Building an A-Frame Structure

Reference Number: KB-00452 Last Updated: 12-24-2013 06:58 AM

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional, Architectural, Suite, Interiors, Essentials, and Landscape & Deck covers


I want to build an A-Frame house but can't seem to get my roof to build right, how do I do that?


The trick to making an A-frame house, is to get the roof planes right first and then working on the rooms inside. For this example, we will walk you through creating a basic A-Frame structure.


To build a structure

  1. Select File> New Plan  to create a new, blank plan file using the Default style template.

  2. Use the Straight Exterior Wall  tool to draw a basic 30'x40' rectangular structure.

    Remember to draw your walls in a clockwise fashion so that the exterior part of the wall is correctly facing outward.

  3. On Floor 1, use the Select Objects  tool to select one of the 30' exterior walls.

  4. Choose the Open Object  edit tool to display the Wall Specification dialog.

  5. Go to the Roof tab.

  6. Place a checkmark on Full Gable Wall in the Roof Options section.

  7. Click OK to apply this change.

  8. Use the same procedure to change the opposite 30' wall to be a Full Gable wall.

Once you have created a fully enclosed structure, you are ready to create a second floor.


To create a second floor

  1. Select the Build menu and choose Build New Floor .

  2. In the New Floor dialog, select Derive new 2nd Floor plan from the 1st Floor plan.

  3. Click OK to build the second floor.

Now that we have the second floor created, we are ready to have the roof build the roof at the appropriate pitch.


To set the roof pitch

  1. Select Build> Roof> Build Roof  to display the Build Roof dialog.

  2. On the Build tab, increase the steepness of the Pitch (in 12).

    For the purposes of this example, change the pitch to 22"

  3. Click OK to rebuild the roof using the new pitch.

Now that we have both of the opposing walls on our first and second floors set to Full Gable, so that they will not generate the automatic ­hip roof that Home Designer would create by default, and we have our roof pitch set, we are ready to continue making modifications to create our A-Frame structure.


To specify attic space

  1. Once these two walls have been set as Full Gable, use the Select Objects  tool to highlight the room on Floor 2.

  2. Click on the Open Object  edit tool to open the Room Specification dialog.

  3. On the General tab, change the Room Type to be Attic.


    Note: Rooms defined as Attic are ignored by Home Designer's automatic roof generator.

  4. Click OK to apply this change and exit the Room Specification dialog.

Now that we have the second floor defined so that it will not automatically generate a roof over it, we can continue with modifying the first floor. To get the roof planes to go all the way to the ground we first need to make our walls shorter.


To make roof planes go all the way to the ground

  1. Return to Floor 1.

  2. On the first floor, use the Select Objects  tool to highlight the room.

  3. Click on the Open Object  edit tool to open the Room Specification dialog.

  4. On the General tab, lower the Ceiling Height (B).

    For the purposes of this example, we will change the Ceiling Height to be 6".

  5. Go to the Structure tab and uncheck the option for Ceiling Over This Room.

    You may receive a Warning message that indicates there is a floor platform above this room.  If so, click OK and then unselect Ceiling Over This Room again.

  6. Click the OK button to save these changes and exit the Room Specification dialog.

  7. Finally, take a 3D Camera  view to see the results.

Now that we can see we have created the type of style we want, and do not want any changes we make in the rest of the design to affect our roof, we need to turn off the automatic generation of our roof planes.

Note: The Home Designer Essentials version of the program already requires that the Build Roof dialog needs to be activated each time a change is made to a roof, so does not have the Auto Rebuild Roofs option.

To turn off auto rebuild roof and readjust the walls

  1. Select Build> Roof> Build Roof  to display the Build Roof dialog again.

  2. Uncheck Auto Rebuild Roofs and click OK.

    Unchecking Auto Rebuild Roofs ensure that, now that we have the roof how we want it, it will not regenerate.

  3. Now that roofs will not regenerate, return to the floor plan view.

  4. Use the Select Objects  tool to select the room on the first floor again, and click on the Open Object  edit tool to display the Room Specification dialog.

  5. Place a checkmark in the Default box next to Ceiling Height, and click OK.

    In Home Designer version 7 and prior, placing a D, which stands for default, in the Ceiling Height box will return it to its default value.

If you look inside the attic room on the second floor you will notice that you still have a lot of usable space. Lets convert some of that attic space to living space.


To make the attic space usable living space

  1. Click on the Select Object  tool, click on the second floor room and then click the Open Object  tool to bring up the Room specification dialog.

  2. On the General tab lets change the Room Type back to Unspecified.

  3. If you take a Camera view from the outside you will notice that the floor goes out beyond the roof planes. We'll want to fix that. So, we create some walls that outline where the roof planes intersect the second story floor and mark the extra as attic space so the program will not show it.

    You'll notice in the above image, I've set the interior walls to the very edge of where the roof planes intersect the floor. You can also pull these walls in further and make a knee wall to butt cabinets against or other furniture.  

  4. Now we have a 2 story A-Frame house with a small attic in the peak. You are now ready to continue customizing your A-Frame plan by adding interior walls, fixtures, furniture, etc.