A-frame house
There is something charming about sloping roofs: this is what residents of an A-frame house appreciate. In this type of house there are only straight gable walls, the rest is dominated by slopes – even on the ground floor.

Two roofs, one ridge, and the A-frame house is complete. Side walls? There are none. The A-frame house is a rare building form in which the gable roof almost extends to the ground. As the name suggests, the house consists only of a gable roof. The two front sides of an A-frame house form the typical triangular gable shape. These are often fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a lot of natural light and, depending on the location, offer a beautiful view. A-frame houses usually have one to two floors. Thanks to the Tiny House movement, these nature-oriented triangular houses are popular again.

Nurdachhaus Eingang Naturvillan
This unique A-frame house by Naturvillan offers spacious and light-flooded living spaces. Source: Naturvillan

What is an A-frame house?

The simple construction of A-frame houses can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Originally, this type of building was found in rural areas as a hut or cottage. In the 1960s and 1970s, the style became very popular in the USA as holiday homes. One of the most famous and modern A-frame houses at the time was designed by American architect R.M. Schindler in 1934 for a snowy site at Lake Arrowhead, California.

With the open floor plan, the use of plywood and a glazed gable end, Schindler's design was 20 years ahead of its time. Many young architects in Northern California went on to further develop this triangular building type. They designed models with closed or open gable walls, added dormers or skylights, or combined the framework of the classic A-frame to create cross-gabled or T-shaped variants.

A-frame house Radc Lorenz Riethmueller Winter
In winter, an A-frame house offers fast snow removal and efficient thermal insulation. Source: RADC
A-frame house surface switch
Gira F100 switch in the A-frame house by architect Lorenz Riethmüller: Modern aesthetics and intelligent functionality combined. Source: Gira

Advantages of A-frame houses

  1. Timeless style – the A-frame structure creates a cosy interior with sloping walls and plenty of space for individual touches.

  2. The simple design means less planning and therefore lower building costs.

  3. Timber homes have a pleasant indoor climate and good insulation values. This means that the building does not heat up too quickly in the summer, and the warmth stays inside during winter.

  4. The two elongated roof surfaces expose the house to intense solar radiation, reducing heating costs in winter.

  5. The large roof areas provide space for solar panels.

  6. Natural light: Large windows in the gable ends not only offer panoramic views but also let in plenty of natural light. If windows are integrated into both front sides, you are able to ventilate the house from one side to the other.

  7. A large roof overhang on one side creates an integrated, rain-protected terrace.

Rustic wooden A-frame house: The natural beauty of a cosy home. Source: Lorenz Riethmüller

Disadvantages of A-frame houses

  1. Because the steeply pitched roof creates sharp interior angles, A-frame houses are smaller than conventional houses. This limits the space with sufficient standing height.

  2. The slopes in the house make hanging pictures or placing furniture complicated.

  3. The construction often contradicts the building regulations and is not approved everywhere (eaves height, etc.).

  4. The calculated living space is smaller: For example, parts of rooms with a ceiling height of less than one metre are not counted as living space. Parts of rooms with a height of more than one metre but less than two metres are counted as half the living space.

What does an A-frame house cost?

Compared to a standard house, an A-frame house is a budget-friendly option. Since the house consists almost entirely of roofing, the planning effort and consequently the costs are greatly reduced. Some suppliers already offer fully furnished A-frame houses, with furniture adapted to the roof's pitch.

The cost of such a turnkey ready house can be expected to be in the region of 2000 euros per square metre. Additionally, you have to consider the land price, which can vary considerably from region to region. The low energy consumption of A-frame houses and the use of renewable energy source can also reduce costs.

Living in an A-frame house: The fascinating A-shape

A-frame houses are still mostly built using timber construction. These are usually standardised prefab house systems that can be planned in detail and assembled quickly on site. Like a rafter roof, an A-frame house consists of several A-frames. These can be built and joined together in almost any size, while the equilateral triangle is typically 60 degrees. This design can be used for anything – from a tiny house to a large luxury holiday home.

A-frame house Naturvillan Marcus Eliasson
A-frame house Naturvillan Marcus Eliasson

The A-frame house, with its high roofs and large glass windows, offers a bright and open sense of living. Source: Naturvillan

Floor plan of an A-frame house: Unusual but with a special flair

Living under the slope can mean living with the charm of sloping surfaces and living with the charm of beams and the like. Thanks to its unique shape, the A-frame house offers plenty of space inside. The high ceilings and natural materials give the interior a warm and cosy atmosphere, while also feeling open and spacious.

The kitchen, dining and living areas are mostly at ground level. Here, the focus is on the connection to nature. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in light and connect the interior to the natural surroundings. If a gallery is included, the living space can open up into the gable. As the house is mostly a timber-frame construction, the natural building material is also the dominant element inside. The bedrooms are located under the gable on the upper floor. Sometimes there is a third level at the top, where sleeping can take place.

A-frame house Naturvillan Marcus Eliasson Kitchen
The kitchen of the Naturvillan A-frame house has a warm and inviting atmosphere. Source: Naturvillan
A-frame house Naturvillan Marcus Eliasson bedroom
This bedroom offers relaxation and comfort in a bright ambience. Source: Naturvillan

Sophisticated design up to the gable

Critics find fault with the fact that the A-frame house's interior is characterised only by its slopes. Although this limits the design possibilities inside the house, it also allows for creative solutions: Open beams or visible staircases, for example, create a modern loft feel.

With custom-made furniture, you can make the most of any slope. For example, bunk beds under the slope create a wonderfully cosy bed for the night and make the most of the space available. If the bed is placed under a skylight, and it's a starry night, you can fall counting shooting stars instead of sheep. With a sense for the overall design, you can create great living environments of the highest quality.

Tent-roof houses as a special form of A-frame houses

The A-frame house is a special type of A-frame house: It consists entirely of roofs that reach down to the ground. The building has four roofs, all with the same pitch, and the peaks all touch each other.

A tent roof has no ridge. One of the most characteristic features is symmetry. This is why this type of building is also called a pyramid house. One of the most famous buildings of this type is the glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris.

A-frame house from above Naturvillan
Retreat into nature: The A-frame house is becoming a popular choice for relaxing getaways in the midst of nature. Source: Naturvillan

The A-frame house holiday trend

In Scandinavia, these houses are often used as holiday homes on the beach. Here, this type of building is called a Finn cottage or Finland house. There are often entire holiday villages built in this style. This type of roof is particularly popular in ski resorts, as the snow easily slides off the building.

If the house is located in warmer regions, the main living space on the ground floor remains cool because the warm air rises to the top of the building. In Germany, the A-frame house is typically found in the lakeland of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania, the Harz Mountains, Thuringia, or the Ore Mountains.


An A-frame house is largely a matter of taste. It is particularly suitable as a charming holiday or a single person's home. Because of their rural and traditional appearance, A-frame houses are popular with people who appreciate a lifestyle close to nature.