The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced (and in some cases, ignited) our collective desire to own a home, our own space away from others—and preferably one that reflects our distinct needs and style.
But buying a typical house might seem increasingly out of reach for many people. In addition to a spike in mortgage interest rates and stubbornly high home prices, there’s an overall shortage of properties for sale.
Are you dreaming of turning your A-frame fantasies into reality? Read on for a low-down on how much constructing this trendy home will set you back.
What is an A-frame home?
An A-frame is an iconic triangular-style home that features modern lines, open floor plans, and plenty of light. And their inherently simple structures are relatively inexpensive and easy to build.
“A-frames are a classic style of home dating back hundreds of years,” says Viktor Dub, founder of The DIY Plan and a residential and commercial construction expert. “The style has been enjoying a surge in interest recently because they are less expensive to build, customizable, and often have large windows and exposed beams, which give them a unique look.”
The first step of building an A-frame is buying land
If you want to build an A-frame house, you’ll first need to buy land zoned for residential buildings.
“The cost of land will vary depending on the location and size,” says Richard Kelly, co-founder of Unique Home Guide in Nashville, TN. “A regional piece of land in Ohio will certainly be less than a prime spot in the Smokey Mountains.”
Be sure to check with your local zoning department to see if there are any restrictions on building an A-frame house in the area.
And once you’ve purchased the land, you must go through the (sometimes lengthy and costly) process to obtain a building permit from your local municipality.
Land cost breakdown: An acre of farmland costs $3,800 on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Land Values 2022 Summary.
Procure A-frame floor plans
You don’t necessarily need an architect to blueprint out an A-frame home, mainly because the design of the house is traditionally so simple.
You can either purchase existing plans or have them custom-made to your preferences.
Floor plan cost breakdown: Plans range from $100 to $1,000, depending on how complex or detailed you want your home to be. If you hire an architect, plans can vary wildly in cost, from $2,000 to $20,000.
Go for custom features
If you want to build a home that’s tricked out to its maximum potential and will also re-sell well in the future, install classic A-frame features.
“A-frames are known for great features inside and out,” says Kerry Sherin, a consumer advocate at Austin’s Ownerly, a leading home valuation company. “Some key features you may want to consider adding, if they’re not in your floor plan already, include a high interior ceiling, large windows, loft spaces, deep eaves, and gables in the front and back.”
You may also want to build the home on stilts.
“Like any small house, an A-frame lacks storage,” says Sherin. “You can create storage space between the ground and the lower floor joists by raising the home off its foundation. Then waterproof this storage space by encasing the foundation in concrete.”
Custom cost breakdown: Custom additions will cost between $100 and several thousand, depending on their complexity, says Dub.
Erect an A-frame from a kit
You’ve got a floor plan—now it’s time to build! The best part? If you’re up for rolling up your sleeves—and have at least some rudimentary building skills—You can buy an A-frame kit that matches your floor plan.
“These kits typically include all materials necessary to build an A-frame,” says Joshua Haley, founder of Moving Astute.
Kit cost breakdown: Kits without labor factored in start at $20,000 and vary considerably depending on the home’s size, design complexity, and materials. DEN offers kits, including materials starting around $20,000.
And while it’s easy to go big when choosing a design, keep in mind that the cost of finishing the interior of an A-frame with everything—from electricity to plumbing to light fixtures—will cost the same as a traditional home. So budget carefully.
A-frame bottom line with labor
You’ll save big bucks if you’re willing to spend some sweat equity building your A-frame instead of hiring an entire army of construction workers, plumbers, and electricians.
Estimates vary, but on average, the cost of building an A-frame with minimal hired labor will cost between $100 and $200 per square foot, says Sherin.
“And your square footage costs might reach $300 per square foot or higher if you need to partially or mostly rely on labor,” Sherin notes.
That figure could jump to $400 to $600 if you rely solely on hired labor, adds Sherin.
Bottom line: Soup-to-nuts, construction of an average A-frame will start at $150,000.