Buying a house is something relatively easy to do. Anyone with some money in the bank and a good credit score can do that.
Building one is entirely a different story.
Building a house from scratch is an endurance game. It requires passion, vision and, in most cases, a real necessity.
A-frame houses are relatively easy to build if you buy a construction kit. However, the process requires commitment and good skills.
In this article, I want to make it very simple for you and put in your hands a list of practical steps to follow to make your house happen.
1. Know what you need
The first step would be to pick a model and start to plan with that in mind.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to pick a model if you do not have a crystal clear idea of what you want to do with it and what you need it for.
We stress a lot on the need to create your own vision first. We mean it... that's how you should start.
2. Pick a model and set a figure
Once you know what you want to build, pick a house kit model.
Note we do not recommend to build the house from scratch (that'd be a suicidal mission). You need to start with a ready-made solution, a house kit, which has been designed and tested.
A home kit comes with no surprises.
If you use one of our kits, you can pick your model and get a quote.
The number you get is for the house kit only and, usually, you need to account double that number to get the house finished.
NB: to this number you have to add the cost of the land.
This is just to give you a ballpark figure of the budget you need to have in order to pull this off.
Before you start the project you'll need to get into the fine details of the budget and account for everything you are gonna have to buy to finish up the house (more about this in a moment).
3. Can you afford it?Based on the number you got at step 2, make a quick reality check and see if you can afford to build.
If you don't, not all hope is lost. You can park this idea for a few years and come back to it once your financial situation gets better or choose a smaller model.
4. Pick a land
Needless to say, to build a house you need a piece of land.
If you have it already, good. If you don't, now it is time to go looking for one. See the next points for tips on what to keep in mind.
5. Download drawings
Get the drawings for the particular model you chose and print them out.
You'll need them in the next step when you go seek for preliminary approval.
6. Get a preliminary approval
To build a house you need permission from the Municipality.
It is a good idea to get a preliminary permission BEFORE you make any other move.
If you own a land already, you want to make sure you can build an A-frame house on it.
Despite being a very old type of construction, A-frame houses are seen sometimes as a novelty and they are not welcomed by approval authorities.
One of the biggest obstacles to approval is the slope fo the roof. Make sure your municipality is fine with it and that they are ready to give you approval on the particular piece of land you own.
If you do not own any land yet, you have the luxury to iterate the process until you find a location where they allow you to build your dream home.
Countryside locations tend to have less constrains in terms of what one can build.
7. Plan everything in detail
If you get this far you are in the 1% of people who stand by their desires and take action to shape their reality.
At this point, you need to start planning the works, get a clear idea of all the material and services you need to order and how much it will all cost.
To help you with this, we have two guides:
- the 100 Questions Guide (44 pages), which deals with the mindset of building a home from scratch and teaches you 100+ important things you should pay attention to.
- the Budgeting Guide (30 pages + spreadsheet), which helps you to figure out the total cost for your build.
Both guides are useful tools that can be used to build any type of house (not just A-frames).
Do not be overwhelmed by the homework you have to do in this step. It is totally feasible and we are willing to help.
8. Get your finances straight
With the full budget you prepared, go meet your bank and secure a loan for the construction.
In case you don't need one... congratulations, you can jump to the next step.
Note that banks appreciate details and they'll love the budget you'll prepare using our budgeting guide.
Also, the more detailed the budget, the fewer surprises you'll have to face during construction.
9. Order the kit
Time to order the house kit and to book all the other services you'll need to finish up the house.
If you wonder what those other services would be, the 100 Questions Guide is a good place to start to shed clarity on that.
10. Build the foundation
The foundation must be ready before the kit arrives on your property.
You need to prepare the property of the works, to arrange groundworks and build the foundation properly.
You can find some tips in this article.
11. Assemble the structure
Once you get the kit, you need to put it together on the foundation you already built.
The assembly work can be done by you and your family (or friends) or by local carpenters.
A combination of both will also work. Ultimately it is up to you how to set up this phase of the work.
12. Make it weathertight
Getting the house weatherproof is your number one priority at this point.
With the kit, you'll get the windproofing membrane, the roof cover, the windows. With those components you can quickly close the house, so you can start working "indoor".
13. Install the insulation
Then next thing you want to do is to install the insulation material in the roof and in the front and back walls.
Insulation takes a lot of space. For this reason, it is not delivered with the kit. You have to source it locally.
Insulation shall be installed properly since it has the important function to keep your house warm. There is no room for error here.
14. Install the air-tight layer
The insulation needs to be protected from the inside with a vapor membrane that shields the insulation material from the humid indoor air.
Failure to shield the insulation properly will cause vapor to penetrate into the insulation and to condensate.
Wet insulation loses its thermal properties and, over time, it will rot and generate mold.
Getting the house air-tight is a must.
You should plan to make a door-blower test to check how air-tight you managed to make it.
15. Finish the exteriorOnce the "urgent works" are done, you can close up the facade and eaves and give to the house its final exterior look.
16. Technical installations
Next, you can now start working inside. It is time to take care of:
- eventual fireplace or stove
In any case, those things should be planned well in advance and budgeted to the finest detail.
17. Finish the interiorsInterior finish works are very time-consuming. Plan to spend here most of the time for the construction of the house.
Interior finishing works include:
- closing up everything with wooden boards (or gypsum boards if that's your wish)
- installing stairs
- installing flooring material
- installing window and floor trims
- painting the interiors
- tiling the bathroom and the kitchen
- installing bathroom-ware
- installing kitchen-ware
18. Furnish it up
When you get here, most of the work is done.
It is time to give some personality to your new home.
Buy the stuff you want to have inside and turn the empty space into a cozy nest for your family.
19. Clean up the site
No, you are not done yet.
Outside everything is a mess. You need to clean it up.
Wood scraps, board cuts, wiring, stones...
It usually takes more than one season to clean the site properly... unless you order this as a service.
20. Landscaping works
Once the house is done and the property is cleaned up, you should still have some space in your budget to plant some trees and make your piece of land look like a small paradise.
You made it to the very end of this article and you should now have a better picture of all the steps you need to take to build an A-frame house... or any kind of kit home for that matter.
It is a lot of work and there are a lot of details you should not overlook.
Building a house from scratch is not something you can do without preparation... so make sure you allocate enough time to get proper knowledge.
To learn and try out DIY building, we have released detailed drawings of our smallest house Solo Hobby. It includes list of all materials and tools it is needed to build this house. It is available in our E-store. The link to that can be found here.