• UO Journal: How to Build an A-Frame Cabin

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    This time of year, it doesn’t get much cozier than bundling up in an A-frame cabin, especially if it’s one you’ve built yourself. Portland photographer and outdoorsman Carey Quinton Haider shows us how to do just that. From leveling a foundation to building a roof, to decorating the inside of your brand new A-shaped abode, Carey’s step-by-step breakdown will give you all the know-how you need to put a put a roof overhead.
    Words and photos by Carey Quinton Haider 

    1. Removal
    When building you want to make sure you remove all rubbish from the ground. For the A-frame build you see here a tree was removed as well as sticker bushes and weeds. After the cabin is built, plants and a garden will be added. 

    2. Labor of Love 
    In order to have a cabin sit flat on the ground you must dig a level foundation. If it’s not level, your bed will be lopsided and the cabin could eventually fall over from a good wind storm. My A-frame was built on a 25 degree incline, which meant 13 hours of digging on a 12x16 square. In 90° summer heat, chopping through tree roots and sticker bushes was a labor of love.

    3. Foundations 
    A foundation starts with placing concrete blocks on the ground in 4x4 squares to support the weight of the cabin and weight inside. Next you start nailing together your foundation: 2x6 boards in a maze that fits into all of the blocks. Pressure treated wood is what you will want to use so you do not have to worry about rot. In Oregon, it rains a lot so keeping your building rot free is important. On top of this wood frame goes plywood to create your base floor. When finished, this will look like a deck.

    4. A Little Help 
    The frame for your roof is next. You start with building a square all around your deck with 2x6 boards as a platform for your roof peaks to sit on. Our building is a 12x16. After doing the math, that adds up to roughly 33°. I say “roughly” because boards are never quite straight and the deck has a little play in being perfectly square. You will need a few friends to help with this part. Cut your boards on each end and nail them together then lift them up one by one. It helps to nail up supports to hold them as well until the actual plywood roof goes on. This is the bones of what will start to look like an A-frame.

    5. Roof Overhead 
    Next you will sheet the roof with plywood. This is pretty straightforward. You will need two people to do this since the sheets are 4x8 and heavy. Once the roof is covered, you cover the plywood with tar paper then roofing to keep it waterproof. 

    6. Door and a Window
    The front and back walls are also made of plywood. A door and window were put in with framing which is creating 2x4 boxes around the shape of them then surrounding them with supports.

    7. North to South 
    Salvaged pine flooring was nailed in next. This is a simple process of filling your floor north to south.

    8. Curb Appeal 
    For a welcoming look, decorate the front of your A-frame. I salvaged wood off of old fences in Portland that I was given for free. I used this to skin the front of the home again using the 33° angle on the edge to meet up with the roofline. Build a deck with free salvaged wood. A little paint and your favorite belongings put around make this house a home.

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