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A-Frame Timber Home Designs

Updated on May 10, 2018
viryabo profile image

Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've had cause to be involved in design & build residential building projects.

When most people think about building their dream home, some may desire to build a home that blends natural and sometimes historic beauty with its environment. A-frame timber homes do just that.

Timber Frame Home, An A-Frame House
Timber Frame Home, An A-Frame House

Traditional Timber Homes

Traditional timber frame houses (Tudor homes) were half-timber(ed) buildings built with a solid wood frame . . . usually oak at the time . . . and other locally available materials like wattle (made from branches and twigs), bricks, and even animal hair mixed with dung, etc… These were used to fill in the gaps between the load bearing timber frames.

Timber was the medieval builder’s main material because trees were abundantly available. At the time, it seemed forests will last forever.

From building a home to furnishing it, wood was used for virtually everything that goes into a homes' construction. It is said that yesterday's timber is the equivalent of today's steel and plastic. Asides the A-frame, wood was extensively used for buildings:

  • Gutters
  • Drains
  • Roof tiles
  • Interior partitions
  • Door and window frames
  • A building's timber frame

The forests supplied the locals with everything they required, from willows to weaves that were found between the timber frame panels. And for the mighty posts, sills, wall plates, and the 'bressummers' of the timber frame itself, oak or any available hardwood was used.

Building Methods

The earliest A-frame homes were erected using pairs of curved timber called 'cruck' and start out looking like the frame of an upturned boat. This design was no coincidence because the timber frame tradition (probably) originated in Normandy and was made popular by sea-faring Vikings who, in the 9th century, beached their broad wooden boats at Northmannia, as the region was called then.

The early A-frame homes were erected using pairs of curved timber called 'cruck' and start out looking like the frame of an upturned boat. This design was no coincidence because the timber frame tradition (probably) originated in Normandy and was made popular by sea-faring Vikings who, in the 9th century, beached their broad wooden boats at Northmannia, as the region was called then.

The Vikings were boat builders and so knew a lot about working with timber. Their main profession was ship building. Vikings knew how to hew hardwood trees with wedges and beetle to form matching uprights for cruck frames.

Once these frames were formed and erected, thatch was used to cover the entire structure, making it resemble a giant teapot cozy! The sides of the building may then be filled with coppiced staves, woven into a wall which was in turn rendered using a mix of whatever was available to them . . . mud, daub, clay, and/or domestic animal dung mixed with animal hair.

Timber frames were valuable material and it has been said that some household occupants will dismantle their timber homes and take the frames and floor boards with them whenever they moved house.

Present Day's A-frame Buildings

Today, timber frame homes are constructed in much simpler ways. The basic structure is a skeleton or inner frame of softwood that is enveloped within other building materials like bricks and mortar, which serves as added support and an outer protection for the building.

A-frame timber houses are familiarly associated with certain regions, especially in colder areas of the world. They invoke the ideal getaway cabin, holiday resort, or mountain home, where the house occupant can be in very close proximity with natural settings. However, this doesn't mean you won’t find these designs in suburban areas, something that may be desired by some people living in the suburbs.

Timber frame residential houses were very popular in the 1960s through to the 1970s. It was like a sudden ‘rave’. People loved the A-frame’s sleek shape and simple but aesthetically pleasing interior layouts with the scenic views from within. They set the standard for dramatic, contemporary vacation homes for the elite and adventurous...

Timber frame homes come under the group of eco-friendly houses today. They are often constructed with cedar or similar wood, with a combination of natural stone that makes it blend beautifully into natural serene settings. You can also take full advantage of a great view of a mountain, lake, wooded area, or even the ocean.

A-shaped homes are named for their steep pitch and the two-sided roof that extends right down from its peak to the building's foundation. Because of this shape, they are a bit limited in interior space and have limited vertical walls. You will find architectural plans of one-and-half or two storeys that offer open and inviting interiors with amazing soaring ceilings.

There are the masonry fireplaces and comfortable half floor lofts, 2 to 4 bedrooms with storage space in the attic (within the roof peak) of the home.

Why Oak Wood Frames are Best

A-Frame house designs are a beautifully rustic but sophisticated choice for those who want to enjoy living a minimalist modern style, but with a country setting.

Compared to timber constructed homes of centuries past, today's softwood timber frame homes are like matchwood. But if you use oak you’ll discover that it is the perfect building material for A-shaped homes.

For instance, one of the qualities it possesses is this . . . with an unfortunate fire incident; an oak beam has a protective layer of charcoal formed around its outer ‘body’ which delays damage to its core.

Compare this with an unprotected steel beam which will buckle under intense heat and subsequently bring the building down, unless it’s been pre-coated with expensive intumescent paint.

Additionally, modern wind tunnel tests have indicated that half-timber(ed) frames are capable of standing up to a tornado's awesome might.

A-Frame House Plans and Blueprints

If you want to build an A-frame house, there are great floor plans and blueprints on-line with a very wide range to choose from.

There is always one that will suit your needs and lifestyle.

Also, if you find one that you really like, but feel like making some change to a particular section or feature it has, it can be custom-altered to suit your requirements.

And for those who've always wanted to self-build their own timber-framed homes from the ground up, there are tremendous savings in both costs and time by purchasing designs, estimates and complete blueprints of timber frame home plans on-line.

You want to build a new house, and you need to view varied designs before making a final decision. What will you do?

See results

© 2011 viryabo


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    • profile image

      timber buildings 

      7 years ago

      Nicely written! I would say that a lot of peoples are not aware that log cabins is one of the best way to meet our requirements for resident and commercial buildings. Wooden houses are really effective and worth living. I remember my stay with grandparents in the log cabins and love them so much. Thanks for writing such a good post.

    • profile image

      David Leeper  

      7 years ago

      What a like the most about historic home is that it remind of the ancient people living ..I'm living in a KB Homes and every now and then i try to modify my home to look it historic

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      When I was younger I thought about building an A frame, now however I am a little old to get into that house building thing at 62. Still the article was interesting and useful.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi, where i mentioned "A Frame House Plans" above will take you where you can link with the actual architects of the various house plans.

      They will love to set up these plans and can modify or get you other designs is you wish.

      Hope this helps. Thanks so much for visiting.


    • profile image

      forest grove boat storage 

      7 years ago

      These look interesting. Would you know if there's an architect who'd be willing to set up these plans for me? Thanks in advance!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Becky, thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Im so glad you find it informative.


    • Becky Puetz profile image


      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Viryabo, You have outdone yourself on this one. There's a wealth of much needed information here about "Traditional Timber Frame Homes" and "Eco friendly A-Frame House Plans Online' This will help so many people with their quest to live more eco friendly and their desire to get back to basics, which is something we all can benefit from. Thanks for a well written, awesome Hub!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hello G.

      Missed you.

      Its been a while, how are you?

      So happy to see you here. Thanks so much for sharing this hub with your sister. You are always so thoughtful G.


    • GPAGE profile image


      7 years ago from California

      viryabo! I just sent this hub to my sister who just spoke about building one of these!

      This is very useful information. Thank you for writing and sharing this here. I hope you are well.....Best, G

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks Cwarden, first for being my 1st visitor, and secondly, for finding this hub informative.

      Sounds like you are planning for a wonderful adventure filled life.

      And A frame timber houses seem just the right choice for a beautiful and scenic mountain environment.

      Thanks for the nice comments.


    • cwarden profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I have been planning to retire to the mountains for many years and just recently started to question why I should wait for retirement since I am able to work from anywhere with a telephone and internet connection. I was actually discussing an A-frame house with my daughter just the other day and began looking for some land. I will be back - THANKS!


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