This amazing 13-year-old built a tiny house for $1,500 and you can too

A 13-year-old boy is making headlines this week after building his own home for $1,500, according to multiple news reports.

Luke Thill of Dubuque, Iowa, cobbled together material from various sources — old siding from his grandmother’s house, a front door from a relative of a friend — and built a bona fide home, complete with a kitchen.

Luke said his motivation came from a need to show some fiscal responsibility. “I liked the minimalism,” he told the Des Moines Register. “And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.” As impressive as that feat is, Luke raised funds for the house via the internet and by bartering his labor. An electrician agreed to help wire the home if the eighth-grader agreed to clean out his garage, according to the Register. Another man agreed to help him lay carpet in his loft bedroom if Luke cut his grass.

Boy builds tiny house
He did, of course, have a little help from his parents, both financially and in the actual building of the house. Still, his dad, Greg Thill, explained that he told his son he would support his idea if he raised the money and built the house himself.

“It was a chance for a kid to do something more than play video games or sports. It teaches life lessons,” Greg Thill said.

Tiny homes less than 500 square feet have piqued the imagination of a nation fighting the American urge for more and bigger in the past decade, said Renee McLaughlin, the organizer of last weekend's TinyFest Midwest, who lives in a smaller home than Thill's.

Her rural Oskaloosa home is 87 square feet.

“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,” said McLaughlin, 48. “It’s not making us happy.” Her fest at the Jasper County Fairgrounds included several tiny homes to tour, a presenter who is 6-foot-8, proving they can fit anyone, and attendees from 18 states, including a family of four who lives in a tiny home.

It was Thill's first speaking engagement after gathering attention and more than 700 subscribers with his YouTube series on the build.

Luke says his home, which is 5½ feet wide and 10 feet long and includes a loft, is made of 75 percent reclaimed materials, including several windows.

He built a small deck outside. The siding is half cedar shakes, half vinyl.

Inside, a small kitchen area with a counter and shelving leads to a back sitting area with a large ottoman for a couch, a flip-down table and a wall-mounted TV.

A ladder leads to an upstairs loft with a mattress. It’s wired for electric but has no plumbing, so Greg Thill says city codes consider it “a glorified shed.”

Luke Thill said he learned how to overcome disappointment. A big moment was his “counter-top fail.” He placed broken colored glass below what was going to be a lacquer surface. But when he poured the lacquer, it was “too watery,” and ran all over. But he made the most of it — the lacquer created a bond that held the counter to the wall.

“Doesn’t have a screw in it,” he said.

He attached a traditional counter surface over the messed-up lacquer surface with a hinge for a lift-top storage space.

He sleeps in it a couple of nights a week, does homework there after school and entertains friends.

“The main purpose is to be my starter home,” he said. “I’m going to save money and expand.” In a couple of years, he hopes to build a larger tiny home on a trailer so he can perhaps haul it to college for cheaper living.

His message at the festival was this: “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age.” There’s also an Iowan on the festival schedule who lives in a tiny home at the age of 80.

To a 13-year-old, it's the future. “Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical,” Luke Thill said. “You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead.”

You can see the pride in his work as he gives a tour of his completed project.

And who knows, maybe Thill will inspire other kids to become interested in budgeting, building, and simple living.

That’s what he’d like to do: “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age,” he said.

Sources : one, two , three