Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A-Frame Elevations and Sketches

I'm uploading a few of our design drawings that people have requested. A front and rear framing elevation (note we ended up moving the windows in the final project), a foundation sketch, and a sketch of the mending plates that we used to join the top and bottoms of the rafters. The drawings are rather basic (I'm not an architect) but they were acceptable for our permit inspector.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Finished Product!

Well it's certainly been awhile since I've posted anything on this blog... that's simply because we've been so busy enjoying our A-frame almost every weekend! This will probably be my last post, since the project is all done now, but I am still happy to answer questions for those of you that are tackling a similar project.

Many people have asked me what was the most important "lesson learned" during this project... I have to say that there were really two key lessons we learned: 1. this project will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you plan, and 2. If you commit to doing this, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish, and endlessly delighted with the results.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This is Starting to Look Like a Cabin

With the windows installed and the the Typar wrap on, our piles of wood seemed to finally transform into something resembling a cabin.

Framing the A-Frame

Once the "A's" were all up, it was time to frame-up the cabin.

The first and most critical part was to install the roof decking. The roof decking is a key structural part of the A-Frame because it ties all of the rafters together and makes the structure very rigid... you may have noticed that there is no ridge beam. Only after the roof deck is on should you even think about taking down all of the support bracing.

Next was the rough-in framing of the gable ends. Saved again by help from another brother and sister-in-law with extensive building experience. These gable ends were framed so perfectly that we didn't even use one shim on any of the windows - everything was perfectly square and level! Nice work Dona & Terry!

And finally, the gable sheathing... a no-brainer for the most part, just time consuming.


Now that we're "land-owners" we made sure to hang-up our No Trespassing signs. After-all this is our property and we can't just have anyone tromping through looking at our stuff, right? It seems these signs are of little use though, because the darn locals just keep snooping around whenever we're gone.

Makin the "A's"

Lesson # 1 when building a cabin... it's going to cost twice as much and take twice as long as you plan. Certainly, if money wasn't an object, someone would have built our cabin for us while we sat around watching and drinking champagne.

Likewise, with full-time jobs, and our work-time limited to only weekends, our 3 month completion date was repeatedly extended, one month at a time. Building the "A's" is a great example of a time-gobbler. The plan was to fabricate 17 of the little buggers in one day and stand them up the next... after all, it's just a 60 degree cut off the bottom and a few bolts right? Only took 20 minutes in the driveway, remember? Four days later... we were on "A" # 10 and had stood-up only six. Two days later all were built and the bottoms stood upright. Two more days after that all of the top "a's" were finally up. That's 8 days, or 4 weekends, or one month (however you want to look at it), for a 2-day project.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law was there and made a template on the ground to make sure each "A" was exactly the same as the last. Without the template there s no way to ensue that the "A's" will be the proper height or fit on the deck. Even a slight deviation of 1 or 2 degrees will throw a 24' board askew from the others and make life really difficult. Looking back, I'm certain that this attention to detail is the key to the sucess of the entire project - thanks Uncle Steve!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Foundation

For cost and convenience, we opted for concrete pilings and box beams for our foundation. The concrete pilings are 4' deep by 12" wide and were poured in less than an hour.

The box beams are basically doubled-up 2x12s and are incredibly heavy-duty. They are bolted to the concrete pilings with 1/2 inch anchors.

We used 2x10 green-treated for the joists and capped the whole thing off with 5/8 treated plywood.

Other than some lattice, which will be installed later, we opted to leave the underside open for air-flow and to prevent moisture damage underneath the cabin.

All of this is ours?

Our cabin is being built in far-Northern Wisconsin, a beautiful land of pristine lakes and deep wilderness. Seasonal tourism is the basis of the area's economy and we felt an obligation to support the local businesses and buy our materials locally. So I sent my material list to both local lumber yards for quotes fully intending to buy from either one. Unfortunately, both local price quotes were more than double Menard's quote and we ended up buying from the big M. The economy of scale is truly amazing when you realize that Menards can ship materials 90 miles further at half the cost - impressive indeed.

Anyhow, our single-page spreadsheet full of materials translated into an entire flat-bed semi, which rolled down our unpaved, un-named, and un-mapped little road around noon

Getting Started

The A-Frame design is intended to be sturdy and simple. On paper, it certainly seems to be a simple task... bolt a few pieces of lumber together, in the shape of an "A" and stand them up.

Unfortunately, the building inspector required heavy 2x10 douglas fir lumber (we had planned to use 2x6 pine) and we questioned whether we could even do this without a crane. Given the size of our "A" (24' x 24') we opted for two piece construction figuring a full 24' truss would be too heavy to stand up. Our heavily wooded hilltop site would not allow for even a scissor-lift to be brought-in.

We decided that a practice run was in order, so we pieced together a lower truss in our driveway. The trial truss went wogether easily and we stood-up our "lower A" with no problems... as you can see, we were pretty pleased.