A House Without Walls

We’re crazy.

We like novelty. We are lovers of originality. Curiosities. Art. We want an A-frame house. An impractical, odd-looking, Alpined-out, pokey-pointy, I-Hop looking A-frame house. We’re on more solid ground this year, and we’re starting to think – in a very tentative way – about home loans. Let’s put it this way – If we get our courage up in the next few months, we might visit a few loan specialists.

Anyhow. Back to the A-frame. We’ve actually wanted one all along. When tossing that idea around out loud, I got a lot of negatives back. “You’ll have no vertical walls … the space is inefficient … too expensive … roofs are the most costly part of a house.”

I don’t really think so. You know how it is when you’re talking houses. Suddenly everybody’s a designer. At any rate – I have a suspicion that the naysayers are just plain wrong. I’m finding way too many builders that say A-frames are hands-down, the most cost-efficient of all home styles. After all, the roof is the walls – no wall framing, sheathing, siding. And I’m thinking, easy to heat.

As far as design goes, the odd interior space doesn’t bother me. Part of the whole A-frame milieu. I know some folks might not take to it, but I think it’s pretty neat. I figure you’re either an A-frame person or you’re not. On the outside, the shape fits our building footprint perfectly.

Another big plus is the limited amount of maintenance. Seriously. With the triangular shape and roof lines reaching to the ground, heavy snow loads are no big deal. No painting. No need to wash vinyl siding or take care of wood. And I like the extra living space in the loft. Spiral staircase, most likely. Don’t want to be climbing up a ladder when I’m 70.

The homes pictured here are maybe a little small for our plans. I found a reputable  blueprints/plans company that have stock plans for a 22×33′ house, which is just about exactly the footprint we’d like to build on. Need to get a quote for customizing, speak to bank-type folks and see if we’d be permitted to change a few things … altering windows and finishes and such. Need to check the foundation specs and such with our Codes Supervisor. All this work, and the thing is only a distant consideration!

Below is the front elevation from the actual house plan I’ve been looking at. I’d want it to be a little more Alpine (like the photo at the top of the page) and a little less California 60s Mod. Easy enough though. That’s all just windows and finishes, change the railing, add some verge board.

Generally need to get a handle on it all. It’s a pretty good Winter project, right?

You have a great day too!



Filed under adirondacks

14 responses to “A House Without Walls

  1. I’d like a Hansel & Gretel type A-frame, like a chalet I guess. With that large roof, I’d be thinking solar and catching rainwater.Build an A-frame barn/coop too.

  2. We have some of those around here.
    I think they are cute.
    you guys are going to be living in it so it must be what you want .
    Not what anyone else wants.
    Got any floorplans to look at?

  3. ADKtricollie

    Through the years we have vacationed in several A-frames in the Adirondacks. This is similiar to a small one we stayed in many years ago. Very cozy.


  4. Oh those are so neat! Corky beat me to my question – got any floorplans to look at? I’m so curious how the space inside is used. We didn’t look at any A-frame plans when we were deciding how to build our “cabin”. Share some sample floorplans with us! And hey, the planning part of any project is half the fun so yeah, that will be a wonderful winter “project”.


  6. (how come Corky always lookes PO’d and I always look like I’m up to something nefarious in our avatars???)

  7. They are cute! If you put a metal roof on, you’ll have even less maintenance and the snow will slip right off. But a lot of your heat will probably end up in the peak…a ceiling fan might be needed to push it back to the floor.

    Then there’s always straw-bale…

    (Doncha just love all the advice that flies when people start talking about building? 😉

  8. A-frame could become the new “Adirondack”. Purists may shudder, but like it.

  9. Mere


    I love the interior on this one! very cool!

  10. Mere

    although I guess that photo isnt a true a-frame. I like seeing the exposed beams.

  11. Keith

    I have loved A-frames since I was a kid. There is a cute A-frame on Prospect St in Bloomingdale and there are a bunch of them in the Ausable Acres development in Jay, a good place to take a Sunday drive some time. As you noted “every’body’s a designer.” I’d recommend four foot knee walls over a roof that goes all the way to the floor, the additional construction costs and maintenance would be minimal, but the increase in usable floor space would be significant. A 22′ wide A-frame with a 16/12 roof pitch that starts at the floor level only has 10′ down the middle with an 8′ clearance, but starting on a 4′ knee wall you get a 16′ width with an 8′ clearance, 60% more livable space. And the second floor on a 22′ wide A-frame would barely have a 6′ clearance at the peak. Start with a 4′ knee wall and you get a second floor with almost an 8′ width of 6′ clearance.

  12. themac

    Awesome winter project!! It’s so fun to think about where, when, and how. You could make it solar passive and hopefully gain energy. As the snow slides off the roof and collects on the ground, there are a few things to consider that I didn’t think of when I designed my house: you can’t plant anything fragile there since it’ll get crushed by the snow load. However, snow does have wonderful insulating properties…

    I love Keith’s idea of having a high knee wall. The roof at it’s peak can’t be more than 35 feet though (APA).

  13. All good thoughts – and many I have considered. We actually catch rainwater off the little cabin roof already. With something like this and a low tank – wow. I thought about strawbale or cob, and am actually fairly school in those methods, but, I decided I am in my mid-40s, have a job, and I just don’t want to mess with it. Also, finishing one in a single season up here would be almost impossible. (That, and the fact that I am essentially lazy.) The knee wall is something to think about. There’s one like that in Placid that I’ll take another gander at. I did check on the roof – it’s well below 35′. And guess what – I have the floorplans for this one that I like. I’ll post ’em now!

  14. Practically speaking, home loans are still at extremely low rates of interest. You should check it out sooner rather than later in case you have to prepare in any way. There is no harm in talking to a banker. A good banker will do what it takes to get you the right loan. Good luck!

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