This 13 Year Old Built His Own Tiny Home For Just $1,500, And So Can You

Published on 02/27/2019
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Many people dream of the day that they can finally be the proud owner of a home in the future. However, have you ever considered building your own? If you think you can’t do it, you might reconsider when you learn about this 13-year-old boy. Luke Thill built a tiny home for only $1,500! We know it sounds too good to be true, but this is exactly what happened to this teenager. Read on to learn more about the journey of this young man who decided to make his very own home! Get ready to be inspired – and maybe a little jealous!

13 Year Old Luke Thill Builds Own Home For Just 1500.JPG

13 Year Old Luke Thill Builds Own Home For Just 1500.JPG

My Own Two Hands

8th grade student Luke Thill hails from Dubuque, Iowa. Isn’t it impressive that he came up with the idea to construct a “structure” measuring 89 square foot? He calls it a “starter home”, which is pretty accurate. Among other things the project involved, he had to make some money to buy materials. As you can see, the young man had his heart set on completing the project!

My Own Two Hands

My Own Two Hands

His Inspiration

So how did he come up with his plan? “I was just on YouTube looking around and came across a tiny house idea and then that spiraled into looking at almost every YouTube video there is, it felt like,” he explained to ABC News.”I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own.”

His Inspiration

His Inspiration

No Ordinary Kid

There was to the story than that, however. He decided to start building a tiny home since he was bored out of his mind during the summer vacation! Some kids would have no problem keeping themselves occupied. However, Luke was not the type of person to use the PlayStation for hours on end.

No Ordinary Kid

No Ordinary Kid

Permission

Before he could get to work, however, there was one thing he first needed to do. Luke needed to get permission from his parents, of course! Greg and Angie Thill could tell that their young son was serious about the project. This must be the reason why they gave Luke the all-clear signal to go build a tiny home on the four-acre property they owned.

Permission

Permission

Dad’s Rules

However, they made sure to set some rules before Luke began working on it. Greg told his son that he would have to raise money, build it, and own it all by himself. That sounds rather difficult, doesn’t it? As you might have guessed, Luke was not deterred by these rules. With his determination, he was able to overcome any obstacle he faced.

Dads Rules

Dad’s Rules

Ground Rules

During an interview with ABC News back in October 2017, Greg Thill said, “We said, ‘If you’re that serious we have to set some ground rules.’” He added, “We told him he had to have the financial responsibility of it, raise the money and choose the materials and stay in the budget.”

Ground Rules

Ground Rules

Housing 101

But don’t worry, this does not mean Greg Thill made sure to watch over his son. However, he wanted the teenager to learn things by himself as well. Some of these lessons include talking to grown-ups, sticking to the budget, making important financial decisions, wiring a home, and framing a structure. In our opinion, every young person should learn to do these things!

Housing 101

Housing 101

Life 101

“It was a chance for a kid to do something more than play video games or sports,” explained Greg. “It teaches life lessons.” Don’t you think this is excellent parenting? Nowadays, kids often have direct access to the digital world. Therefore, it is incredibly important to remind them to live in the moment.

Life 101

Life 101

Honor Thy Neighbor

When Luke started the project, his first task was to raise money. He did this by raising funds online, using reclaimed materials, mowing lawns, and bartering with other people. It is easy to see that he planned the construction with great detail. Although he later abandoned some ideas, other plans proved to be successful.

Honor Thy Neighbor

Honor Thy Neighbor

Rolling Up His Sleeves

You will definitely be impressed with Luke’s bartering skills. He did not only clean out a neighbor’s garage for help wiring the house, but he also cut the lawn of another acquaintance in exchange of bedroom carpeting. There is not a doubt in our minds that all his hard work has paid off.

Rolling Up His Sleeves

Rolling Up His Sleeves

Proud Papa

We are glad to hear that his father is proud of his determination and accomplishments. “He’s a very driven kid for his age,” his father said. “There were times the project got stalled out and he had to earn more money for the next phase. He wouldn’t let it go and kept working at it.”

Proud Papa

Proud Papa

Luke Thill – The Minimalist

When it comes to building his house, Luke did not only stick to doing odd jobs for help. He also recycled. Luke got leftover siding from his grandmother and used a front door donated by a friend of his uncle. “I liked the minimalism,” Luke once said. “And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.”

Minimalism

Luke Thill – The Minimalist

Windows

The friend of his uncle offered more than just the door, however. After some time, he returned and gave Luke some old windows. This must be very convenient. After all, all homes have windows. Now all he needs to do is buy blinds to block out any peeping toms!

Windows

Windows

Werk

As a matter of fact, Luke’s tiny home is made of approximately 75% recycled objects. The windows have mostly been recycled as well. We bet you cannot say the same thing for yourself. You might think that it will cost a lot to make an environment-friendly home on a budget, but Luke proved all of us wrong.

Werk

Werk

Dimensions

How big is Luke’s tiny home? Well, it measures 10 feet long and 5 ½ feet wide. However, it is worth noting that it has a loft and a small outdoor deck as well. The siding is half vinyl and half cedar shakes as well. Clearly, a lot of planning went into the floor plan.

Dimensions

Dimensions

Come On In!

If you go inside the tiny home, you will find a kitchen area that comes equipped with a counter. There are also shelving that will take you to the back sitting area. In this area, you will see a flip-down table, a wall-mounted television, and a big ottoman.

Come On In

Come On In

It’s A Shed

Are you curious about what the loft looks like? You have to use a ladder to see the sleeping area. Greg Thill has informed reporters that it is actually considered a “glorified shed” by city code standards.

Its A Shed

It’s A Shed

Hard Work Pays Off

Apparently, Luke received some negative reception from schoolmates, though he decided not to let the negativity get to him. It seems like this teenager was not going to let anything get in the way of his dreams!

Hard Work Pays Off1

Hard Work Pays Off

News Spread

Soon enough, the entire town knew what he was cooking up. This is not at all surprising since the town boasted a population of 58,000 people. Whenever people saw Luke, they asked him for updates about his housebuilding project. Eventually, he decided it would be easier to keep everyone in the know by making a YouTube channel. Soon, the videos attracted the attention of the media as well.

News Spread

News Spread

An Example

“I couldn’t find anyone younger than 14,” he said in reference to the tiny home videos on the website. Luke continued, “I thought if no one is out there, I might as well do it so I started documenting the whole process and putting it on YouTube.”

An Example

An Example

An Inspiration

Needless to say, his decision to launch his own YouTube channel had been the right choice. He said, “Now lots of kids have messaged me and showed pictures of their tiny houses that they’re building and they’re even younger than me.”

An Inspiration

An Inspiration

Come On Down

In one of his videos, he talked about how he was asked to go to the principal’s office. This was new to him since he was a good student who got good grades. He was understandably nervous. “I don’t go there very often,” he explained. “I’ve never gone there for anything bad.”

Come On Down

Come On Down

You’re A Star

However, there was actually no reason for him to get all worked up. The principal only wanted to talk to him since a reporter wanted to do a story about the project! How cool is that? He was only 13 years old and yet journalists were knocking on his door already.

Youre A Star

You’re A Star

Quite The Mess

Luke Thill has confessed that one of the most challenging parts of the journey had been figuring out how to overcome disappointment. A perfect example of such a moment was what he referred to as a “counter-top fail”. He was using broken colored glass for a lacquer surface. Sadly, he discovered it was “too watery” when he poured it. It ended up running all over the place!

Quite The Mess

Quite The Mess

Learning From His Mistakes

Luke did not give up after making this mistake, however. He decided to make the most out of the situation instead. The lacquer already created some sort of bond that held the counter and the wall together. What he did was to attach a counter surface over the lacquer surface that he messed up. It came with a hinge that provided him with lift-top storage space. Awesome! Nice thinking, Luke.

Learning From His Mistakes

Learning From His Mistakes

First Meal

Isn’t it impressive to hear that someone so young can be such a builder and visionary already? He happens to be a chef as well. He also posted a video on YouTube about the “first meal” he had in the tiny home. Breakfast for dinner is the way to go!

First Meal

First Meal

Speech!

Although city code said it was nothing more than a “glorified shed”, the TinyFest people celebrated the tiny home he made. A festival was held in Colfax, Iowa. Isn’t it amazing that they asked Luke Thill to appear as a special guest? Although it was his first speaking engagement after the project became famous, it nonetheless went off without a problem.

Speech

Speech!

Golden Throne

When construction finally wrapped up, Luke would finally have his own place to eat, sleep, and relax in. There was just one small problem, however. There was no toilet inside the tiny home! Plumbing would have cost him a lot of cash and work, things which he simply did not have at the time.

Golden Throne

Golden Throne

Cozy Setup

How long did it take him to finish the construction of the tiny home? The answer to the question is one year. We are glad to hear that he continues to stay in it several times a week. This is where he finishes his homework and entertains friends as well. We are sure that he is proud of it, no matter how long it took him to finish.

Cozy Setup

Cozy Setup

Cookouts And Chills

The home might be smaller than usual, but at least it comes with a huge backyard that is perfect for hosting cookouts and barbeques. He might have to ask permission from his parents first, but that is just how life works when you are a teenager.

Cookouts And Chills

Cookouts And Chills

Read All About It!

His story actually made it to the front page! There were two Iowa newspapers that picked up the story: the Telegraph Herald and the Des Moines Register. Not long after this, local TV stations and other media outlets picked up the story. Even Good Morning America got in touch with him!

Read All About It

Read All About It!

Attention

Among other things, Good Morning America wanted Luke to tour him around the tiny home and interview him about it. After appearing on the show, a house designer reached out to the young man. It was someone he admired a lot!

Attention

Attention

Idol

It was none other than Derek Diedricksen, who is a builder of tiny homes and design book writer. Luke was blown away since this was the man who had been his inspiration during the project. They talked one-on-one and Diedricksen gave Luke some encouragement. You will be thrilled to hear that they remain connected on social media. Like his idol, Derek has since become an inspiration to others.

Idol

Idol

In The Family

Luke’s brother, Cole, decided to follow in his footsteps. However, he chose to make a teardrop camper instead! Like Luke, he also used quite a lot of reclaimed materials and recycled objects. Cole also helped him draw up a budget and then share it on the YouTube channel. Clearly, Cole was a little luckier in the sense that he had an experienced brother who could help him out when the going gets tough!

In The Family

In The Family

But Wait There’s More

The YouTube channel they shared now boats of over 9,000 subscribers. Isn’t that impressive? Aside from this, they feature projects of other people. They do not only focus on theirs. Luke features projects such as his own mother’s renovation of a 1972 camper. You might also remember the video about the wagon owned by a sheepherder!

But Wait Theres More

But Wait There’s More

His Own Space

According to Luke, the new tiny home gives him some much-needed space when he needs alone time. The young home builder explained, I have a twin brother so it gives me the chance to have my own space,” said the confident home builder.

His Own Space

His Own Space

In Total

When he was asked to tour us around the tiny home, Luke mostly talk about how much building this tiny home cost him. He clarified that the overall cost took him around “more like $1,200, but I rounded it up just in case I forgot anything.”

In Total

In Total

Hero

Luke could not have known just how much attention he would receive for the home project he was about to embark on. Nonetheless, he made sure to use of the attention for the better. He said, “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age.” How admirable is that? Good job, Luke! What could this talented young man plan to do in the future?

Hero

Hero

Upwards and Onwards

“The main purpose is to be my starter home,” he declared. “I’m going to save money and expand.” In only a matter of years, he hopes to build a bigger tiny home that is located on a trailer. If he goes to college, he will no longer have to think about campus housing!

Upwards And Onwards

Upwards And Onwards

Why Not?

During an interview with ABC News, Luke Thill revealed, “In a couple of years I want to build a bigger house and stay in it full-time.” Considering the success of his earlier project, we are sure he can do the same thing when it comes to determination and the like.

Why Not

Why Not?

The Best Part

We bet you will not be able to predict what he liked best about making the tiny home. Apparently it was the way he and his father spent time together. He said, “Me and my dad really bonded through the process…he was really busy but he made sure to spend time with me.” Isn’t that sweet?

The Best Part

The Best Part

Smart Thinking

Luke continues to think ahead. We have no doubt that this young man has a clear idea of what he wants to do in the future. “Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical,” he said. “You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead.”

Smart Thinking

Smart Thinking

Meet Renee McLaughlin

Renee McLaughlin has a story that is similar to Luke Thill. After all, she also made a tiny home of her own. She actually sold a 3,300 square foot home and opted for an 87 square feet tiny home instead. “I think we’ve reached a threshold where this ‘stuff’ is running our lives. We spend all our time working to buy it, clean it and organize it,” she said. “It’s not making us happy.”

Meet Renee McLaughlin1

Meet Renee McLaughlin

The New “In”

Tiny homes are those that are smaller than 500 square feet. More and more, they are becoming popular. Renee McLaughlin also happens to be the TinyFest Midwest organizer who invited Luke to speak at the festival. She adores her tiny home on wheels very much. She is not at all ashamed of her new living arrangement!

The New In

The New “In”

An Affordable Option

Although there were people who thought it was ridiculous, the housing prices make it seem like this is the way to go. “I now own everything outright with no debt,” Renee explained. “I can move around. It’s nice to know I can just go.” Moreover, tiny homes can be just as stylish as a regular home. Just take a look at this one!

An Affordable Option

An Affordable Option

Chuck Em Out

Renee recommends disposing of excess objects that you are holding onto for no good reason. She now shops less and gives away stuff she no longer needs. However, it was not as easy as it might sound. This is especially true when it comes to her clothes and shoes. She explained, “I’m a simple girl, but a girl, nonetheless.”

Chuck Em Out

Chuck Em Out

City limits

We know just how appealing it sounds to make a tiny home of your own! Before you sell your house and start making one, however, know that most infrastructures do not support it. City codes often require houses to be a certain size. In Des Moines, the housing code standard for a house is a width of 24 feet! As you can see, Luke barely made it.

City Limits

City Limits

Let’s Move

The “tiny house movement” is actually more than just an architectural idea. It is also considered to be a social movement. Now that everyone wants to downsize, living in a smaller space with less things should be the way to do it.

Lets Move

Let’s Move

Looking At The Numbers

Doesn’t it sound exciting to live in a tiny home you created yourself? However, you should know that there is still a lot of work to do before it becomes mainstream. A recent survey showed us that only 3,000 homes in the United States fall under the “tiny homes” category. It barely made a dent in the 1.5 million home listings!

Looking At The Numbers

Looking At The Numbers

No Mortgage

Records show that tiny homes cost about $23,000 on average. That is a lot cheaper than a normal home! It also indicates that 70% of tiny homeowners do not have a mortgage. As you might already know, monthly mortgage payments often deal a blow to your finances for two to three decades. With a tiny home, you will no longer need to worry about it.

No Mortgage

No Mortgage

It’s In Our Hands

This young man has shown us that we can change the future when we are armed with determination. The future looks rather grim when you consider the fact that mass consumption will be even worse. It is up to us to look for ways to lower our carbon footprint and save the environment. Small homes might just be the best way to go about this!

Its In Our Hands

It’s In Our Hands

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