Steel A-frame houses? …yes they are a thing but they shouldn’t be.
Here the story of why I did not buy one.
There I was, standing in the middle of my land… a beautiful piece of forest just outside town, a land I acquired for a small sum from a dear friend.
My dream was about to come true. I was going to build an A-frame house there. Finally, I’d be living off the grid.
…or so I thought…
As I started to look for an A-frame kit to buy, it appeared evident there was nothing like that on the market.
I was disappointed.
My hands were on my wallet and I was ready to pay anyone who had a solution to offer to fix my problem… but there was no solution.
After a long search, the only A-frame kit I found was from a large company manufacturing steel houses.
I spent a few days pondering the idea of buying that kit.
I confess it was very tempting to get started immediately. However, there were a few things that bothered me about getting a house made out of steel.
Three things to be exact.
1. Energy performance
Steel is a type of metal and, as we all know, metal is an excellent conductor of heat (and electricity).
I spent a good part of my life selling wooden houses and I know how energy propagates from the inside of a house to the outside.
This massive steel skeleton would be a giant trap sucking warmth out of my home and irradiating it to the cold, snow-covered, surroundings.
Why would I want that?
Yes, this could be solved with layers of external insulation… but then the structure would have become way thicker.
Also, as I wanted to live off-grid, energy for me was very important.
I wanted to waste as little as possible.
With a wooden frame, I could have achieved excellent levels of energy performance just by using the space between rafters (for the thickness of the beams).
It all looked very simple. No external insulation required.
2. Environmental concerns
The idea of bringing a few tons of steel in the hearth of my little piece of forest did not really give me a warm feeling.
Actually I was pretty bothered by the thought that, for going to live off-grid, I would have to buy stuff that was produced using a massive amount of electricity (they make steel using induction ovens) delivered with huge power lines… from a gigantic power plant (running on coal) straight to the skeleton of my new-to-be home.
It didn’t feel right.
I know wood. I know the process to go from a tree to a good set of construction beams… and it is not nearly as energy-demanding as producing steel.
On top of that, there is energy in the wood itself.
I know that when I’ll be long gone, someone can take my house apart and use its pieces to warm up his own home… or the forest can simply reclaim it back.
I like the idea that my home is part of something greater than me, that it will survive me.
For someone who has been in the wood-house Industry for 20 years, seeing the price of that steel A-frame kit was a shock.
It was a no-brainer: that thing was (and still is) seriously overpriced.
I could make get the entire structure out of wood and with less money… even if I had to start from scratch.
…and so I did.
This is the story of how the first Avrame house was born (the one you see in the image below).
Today, after building dozens of kit homes for our clients, we manufacture and supply the number one product on the market when it comes to A-frame house kits.
I always kept in mind what was important for me in the very beginning.
At Avrame we strived (and still do) to improve all the three points above:
- energy efficiency
- environment friendliness
If you are serious about building an A-frame home, you should stick with us 🙂