How to Build an A-Frame Small House
Dan Baban bought floor plans for Alexis, a small wooden A-frame house, from the website pinuphouses.com. Thanks to the detailed documentation of the process made by Dan, you can now see what it takes to build your own tiny wooden house. Since we have a substantial number of pictures to discuss, we decided to create a small series about the process of building a tiny house. This is the first chapter, where we will discuss the initial part of the process – the foundations, the construction of the base board for the floor, and the construction of triangular wall structures. Then we will take a look into the interior of the house and at the construction of partitions and finally, we will show you how Dan installed windows and doors into their openings in the walls.
First steps: The Foundations
This house stands on approx. 1m tall ground screws, upon which were installed multiple joists. Ground screws are one of the fastest-built foundations for tiny houses. They are easy to get, but their prices range. Dan, for example, used high-quality zinc-reinforced ground screws which drill quite easily into the ground and you do not need to bother yourself with digging. You can find out more advantages and information about this type of anchoring for your house on page 90 in the book How to Build a Tiny House.
Construction of the Floor Base Board
Once the ground screws are aligned so that they are perfectly even, it is time for multiple joists. The joists were coated with special formula to protect the wood from mould, fungus, and other dangers. On the joists came floor joists on which then came black base boards. The base boards later came in handy as a platform for building triangular wall structures. If you would like to know more, such as what the ideal span for the floor joists is, have a look at page 100-101 in the guidebook, or check out the blog entry dedicated to floor span.
Montage of the triangular wall framing
As the design of the house suggests, if you look at the house from cross section, you will see one large triangle. All the sides of the triangle are of the same length, so construction of the framing is not that difficult. The average procedure is to construct the first frame and then just mimic that for all the others. However, to be able to do so, you will need a large flat and even area, as otherwise you risk inaccuracies which could later cost you having to go through the building process all over again. But this was not Dan’s case and so you can see the perfectly accurate triangles in the pictures below.
If you take a closer look, you can also see the construction of the frames. The side which lays on the platform is formed of two smaller frames which are joined and fastened together by rafters. The rafters are then connected in the roof ridge, which is reinforced by black boards. Some of the a-frames are equipped with collets which will then hold the upstairs floor. The individual frames were then raised, anchored and aligned with temporary bracing.
Building the Roof
The next stage is dedicated to sheathing, in the case of Dan’s a-frame house, it is made of OSB boards. These are here primarily to reinforce the construction. It is the best form of bracing for the frames and they also serve as the base board for the roof covering, for which Dan chose asphalt as the main material. Before the OSB boards were assembled and installed, they were coated with special formula to prolong their lifespan. Once the OSB boards were tempered, hydro-insulation was placed on them. In the pictures below, it is the black film. Once that was done, an asphalt roof-cover was attached.
The bathroom is divided from the rest of the interior of the house with partitions made out of wooden joists and OSB boards. These partitions do not support the house’s structure. They just simply divide the space. In this picture, you can see the timbers which join together the individual A-frames. These are important, as they not only serve as the reinforcing of the entire structure, but also hold a tiny attic where Dan will lay his head.
Doors and Windows
When you are done with the wooden constructions and wall framing, you can install windows and doors. How to create these openings is described in good detail in the book How to build a tiny house. It is advisable, however, to leave the window and door opening for later, as they may get damaged during the building process. Until then, provisional doors and windows can be filled into the openings instead. You can make them from OSB boards and simple joints, it is a matter of only a few minutes’ work. In the pictures below, you can see protective films are still on the windows. These are better kept until the end of the building process as they protect the installed windows and doors.
Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more!
The next episode will be dedicated to water piping, alternative sources of electric power, and other useful technical devices which can save your wallet and your time while leaving mother nature untouched!