What is an A-frame house? True to its name, this type of home is shaped like the letter A, with walls that begin near the foundation and slope upward at a slant, meeting to form a triangle.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living in a teepee, an A-frame may be the closest you’ll ever get. Sometimes quirky and quaint, sometimes sleek and modern, these triangle-shaped houses have spiked in popularity of late. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about A-frame homes.
What is an A-frame house? Key characteristics
While its triangular shape is its key characteristic, there are other features that make A-frame homes what they are, both inside and out. They typically include the following features:
- High interior ceilings
- Large windows
- Open floor plans
- Loft spaces
- Deep eaves
- Gables in the front and back
- Wood siding
Where to find A-frame houses
From rustic cabins to modern masterpieces, the A-frame style can be seen across the country and around the world. They’re often the choice for vacation homes or second homes, particularly in snowy areas, as the snow slides easily from the roof.
“Here in the Los Angeles area, we see A-frame homes up in the mountains rather than in the city or the suburbs,” says Kathryn Bishop, a real estate agent in California. “I expect because the big windows in the A-frame are usually so fabulous to enjoy the views.”
While A-frames have existed for centuries, they rose to popularity in the United States during World War II and the years that followed. People had extra income for vacation homes, and A-frames were a popular choice.
Simple and inexpensive, build-your-own kits were sold through department stores and allowed people to construct their own A-frame homes.
You can still buy such kits today. For example, Avrame, a company out of Minnesota, offers kits that start as low as $35,900. You’ll have to provide the foundation, insulation, and a few other pieces, but the kits include most of the basics (e.g., the windows, doors, building accessories, and drawings) to help you put your A-frame home together.
Benefits of an A-frame house
Owen Boller, a real estate agent who covers a two-hour radius around Manhattan, says buyers love A-frame homes for a couple of reasons.
“A-frames have large windows so the natural light pours in,” he explains. Plus, “most desirable A-frames are near a lake or stream and are often built on a few acres of land, making them a private escape.”
John Nations, construction manager for New Pointe Communities in San Diego, says with A-frame homes, “it’s more of a tent, camping, outdoor nostalgic feel for the ‘outdoor’ types of people and families.”
The grandeur of the homes can vary widely though.
“A-frame homes can be ideal for first-time home buyers or investors, but that’s not to say this architectural type is not used in many multimillion-dollar, waterfront homes,” says Brad Cooke, a real estate agent with the Corcoran Group in Palm Beach, FL.
A-frames aren’t for everyone
While they’re a great option for some people, A-frame houses aren’t for all home buyers. For example, Cooke says, since A-frame homes are typically made of wood, they’re not ideal in Florida for two reasons: termites and tropical storms.
Boller says while A-frames are often easy to maintain, they usually cost a little more to heat compared with similar-size homes due to the vaulted ceiling. He says space is also often limited in A-frame homes.
“Some bedrooms have low roofs, and there is often minimal storage,” he says.
The biggest downside to buying an A-frame home, however, may be not being able to find one.
“There are not many A-frames left on the market, due to high demand and low inventory,” Boller says. “The majority of A-frames were built in the late 1900s, and homeowners tend to hold onto them more so than other types of homes. Generally speaking, if a second home in the country is why you are purchasing a home, an A-frame might be a good option … if you can find one.”
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