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Thread: A-Frames and Alaska

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    Hi all,

    I am bouncing around an idea to build an A-Frame house/cabin. What are some concerns you see with such a design? This house/cabin will be located in the interior. Thanks for the insight....

    Ron

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    I don't see any Ron. However if you insulate the ceiling, I would not sheetrock it. I had a ceiling to do at my place and I did the cost difference between sheetrock and tongue & grove. Materials were less with SR, but the labor to hang it (min. 2 people), joint, sand, prime, paint compared to TG, I went with the TG spruce from SERPA in Kenny Lake.

    I cut the end of each board at 30 degrees, Used a nail gun to nail it in place. Don't fill the nail holes until you put on one coat of polyurethane. Then as I was polying the second coat, I used a pine crayon filler, wiped it smooth, then poly. If you put the filler in before the first coat, it spreads out leaving a smear where the holes are and you have to sand everything. Or if room allows, poly first coat laying down flat.

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    you can blind nail t&g so there is no need to fill holes..just angle the nails through the tongue side... also it is a MUST to climatize your t &g to let it dry before putting it up to prevent seems from opening up should you go that route.. adn when you do dry it you will want to put some wood between every couple of courses to let air flow around..

    dont see any issues with an a frame as long as you like the design

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Correct but the ends of the boards where they overlap should be nailed. I laid my stuff out for over a week before installing it. I am at a home in Texas right now where they did not do that to the flooring. 1/4" gaps at the ends of some boards now. Sad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    Correct but the ends of the boards where they overlap should be nailed. I laid my stuff out for over a week before installing it. I am at a home in Texas right now where they did not do that to the flooring. 1/4" gaps at the ends of some boards now. Sad.
    I'm with ya there Dave... it is always sad to see how bad some folks can make something so nice look..

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    I will never drywall again..... I had to get that off my chest. I would think that an a frame would be perfect based on snow load. I was thinking metal roof, 2x12 everything and wood on the inside. Small loft in the back for storage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrassLakeRon View Post
    I will never drywall again..... I had to get that off my chest. I would think that an a frame would be perfect based on snow load. I was thinking metal roof, 2x12 everything and wood on the inside. Small loft in the back for storage.


    Boy Ron I sure wish I could say that about drywall...I really really do.....but unfortunitely it is part of my buisness.. I have always been fond of a frames for cabins for that exact reason and the 2x12 s are a great way to go,I have seen one or two done with tgi's or bci's(depending on where you are) but personally if I can I prefer the 2x12

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    Sorry about that. I drywalled my current house. I wish I could have had the money to call someone. It looks fine, but my lungs were a wreck for weeks. I had two masks..... Wood I can do... Drywall needs an expert so I bow low
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    I went through this phase where all I bought was books on traditional trades like post n beam, stone masonry, log smithing and log scribing, cordwood masonry.....kinda stuff like that.

    There was one decent book that alot of us have probably read: Building the Alaska Log Cabin. The author liked roofs with less pitch, said they keep the heat better. He also advocated single story dwellings.

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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    I have never known anyone living in an A frame to enjoy the design, and having lived in one myself I know firsthand why I didn't enjoy it. Claustrophobic in the extreme and a huge amount of wasted space up against the 'walls'. What a pain in the butt on so many levels. maybe for a main room, chalet style, it's kind if cute, but certainly not for the entirety of a cabin. Plus you can't get on the roof to have a stable spot to stand to clean your chimney.

    I think you'll forever be regretting it. It's just not that much work and materials to frame walls, even very well insulated walls.Take a shortcut now and fight the results for decades, or spend the time and money to do it right now and enjoy it for decades.

    Did you look into the cold climate housing research center Ron? I mentioned it on your other thread, highly recommended to check out their wall designs if you want a proven warm structure.

    Snowload is just not a make or break issue, especially in the interior, it's so easy to build with it in mind to where it never needs shoveling, no need to go with an A frame pitch or even close.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrassLakeRon View Post
    Hi all,

    I am bouncing around an idea to build an A-Frame house/cabin. What are some concerns you see with such a design? This house/cabin will be located in the interior. Thanks for the insight....

    Ron
    Quote Originally Posted by GrassLakeRon View Post
    I will never drywall again..... I had to get that off my chest. I would think that an a frame would be perfect based on snow load. I was thinking metal roof, 2x12 everything and wood on the inside. Small loft in the back for storage.
    Plenty of good advice already, especially on the point of getting as much education as you can absorb from the resources offered be the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. There's much to learn about constructing an energy efficient building in our climate. Snow load needs to be engineered for, sure, but it's not going to be your most significant concern here in the interior. Snow load here is much less a concern than where you hail from now.
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    I downloaded and read every article from the u of a on this topic. Just wanted some ideas in design before I settled on one design. I live, rather our current bedroom, is on the second floor of a cape cod with a 12/12 pitch. I know the wall issue first hand. I actually don't mind it. The space issue is not on the list because I live in a small house. When the boys go, with their stuff, we won't have much left. My bedroom is 400 sq/ft which seems about perfect for a cabin. Most of it right now is empty. I live small and simple and would like to stay that way. Thanks for all the advice.
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    To get a 400sqft living space aframe you could build 800sqft cabin.A modified aframe coming down to at least four foot walls will serve you much better.No matter how big you build it you will never have enough storage space for up here.
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    One thing to remember- If you're in a high-wind location, anchor that sucker well. Two folks I know failed to do so, and their A-frames tipped over like garbage cans in winds that caused no problems for the other cabins around them. It seems counter-intuitive to fail to put a reasonable foundation under them, but I guess it happens more often than I realized.

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    What would be the best foundation? I have read post anchored down several feet. Are there any real good maps showing permafrost areas. Real good ones. I have seen the normal ones and its a crap shoot. My other general questions deal with concrete.
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    I don't know anyone that has ever lived long term in an A-frame ever say they enjoyed it. If you build one, make sure you get it far enough off the ground that the majority of the snow can go away when it slides off. They usually are not cheaper to construct and you only get two ends to put windows in. Tons of wasted space. I could go on and on.
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    I'm in agreement with the A-frame neah sayers and don't have a lot of useful info to add just my experience. I remember years back that I wanted to have an A frame cabin as it was cute and all that and turned my crank. Well I have had one for over 20 years. It was built almost 50 years ago using logs. It is now used as my office. It has 400 plus sq ft on the main level, about 260 sq ft on the second level and a cement blocked basement adding another 400+ sq ft giving close to 1000+ sq ft of space. But alot of that is not useful. Put furniture along the slanted walls it shrinks it fast as I lose almost 2 feet of cabin width for that say book case as compared to conventional straight walls, Shelving brackets have to be modified, pictures are fun to hang, etc. The lack of windows makes it depressing at times. So a dozen years ago when I was lucky enough to pick up 20 remote (not road accessible) acreas in the Alaska range thru the staking program I decided to build my self a cabin to use as a second home. I knew that I would NOT use the A frame design as I couldn't see any real pluses to it but only negatives. Oh my A frame is cute and is unique but that is about it!

    Snow load is not a real big concern in the Interior as it is elsewhere and I learned that I do want the snow to stay on the roof. The 16 x 24 cabin was built with a low pitch and has windows on all sides! And roof & chimney maintenace is much easier. It is close to the same deminsions as the A frame but it feels much bigger even though it is only one level. A basement would have been nice but all materials had to be packed in by me by 4 whlr.

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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Ok, so I'm not feeling the love for the A-Frame..... Tell me about concrete in the area? Basements? Slabs? Yes, No? Issues?

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrassLakeRon View Post
    Ok, so I'm not feeling the love for the A-Frame..... Tell me about concrete in the area? Basements? Slabs? Yes, No? Issues?
    Depends on "the area". If you're on permafrost soils, basements or slabs are a no go. If you're on good soils absent permafrost, basements and slabs are the norm. Radon is an issue in many areas, but mitigation is inexpensive if you're building from scratch.
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    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default A-Frames and Alaska

    I know with permafrost. Any areas around Fairbanks,Tok, Central that doesn't have it.
    "Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science"

    Edwin Hubble

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