Everyone has a dream of owning their own house. However, building a house or even owning one is not cheap at all. People save for years before they are able to build or buy their own house. But that's not what the talented 13-year old Luke Thill wanted. He showed the world that you could build your own home even with limited resources, and what he did is truly unimaginable. Let us take you on the journey of how young Luke built his tiny home, completely by himself, for just $1,500 (yeah, it is as unbelievable as it looks). Get ready to feel inspired and motivated.
Small Hands, Heavy Work
One can say that "how on earth a young boy got the idea of building his own 89-square-foot home?" Believe it or not, this young guy refers to the structure as his "starter home." Yeah, he is destined for BIG things.
Luke was bored of summer break and wanted to do something fun. So, he did one thing that every boy of his age does nowadays. He turned to the Internet in search of interesting DIY projects. As an energetic boy, he was certain that he wanted to do something interesting instead of just sitting around.
So, what inspired Luke to do something different? Well, he decided that he was not going to spend his summer break feeling bored and sitting in the house for hours doing nothing.
He told ABC News, “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 added, "I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own home."
Not Just An Ordinary Kid By Any Means
As a kid who is always finding ways to keep himself occupied, Luke wasn't going to spend his summer break complaining (just like most other kids) or playing PlayStation.
He decided that he wanted to build his own home and he knew that his age wouldn't come in his way.
Getting Permission Was The Easy Part
As Luke had the monumental task ahead of him to build his home, first he needed to ask for his parents' permission and it seemed like a small task.
His parents, Greg and Angie Thill, had already recognized their son's potential and they didn't take much time to give him a green signal. They gave him permission to build his home on the family's four-acre property.
Not Forgetting Dad Rules
Luke's dad gave him full permission to start working on his project. But he laid a few simple rules for his son to follow. Luke had to raise the money on his own and build his home completely by himself. Greg Thill told ABC News, We said, ‘If you’re that serious we have to set some ground rules. We told him he had to have the financial responsibility of it, raise the money and choose the materials and stay in the budget.”
As a kid who is planning on building his home, these rules weren't harsh next to his determination. He knew what he wanted to achieve it and he was ready to follow all the rules.
Learning On His Own
Greg Thill’s excitement didn't tempt him to help his son in a lot of things. It is because he wanted his son to learn a lot all on his own.
It included everything from framing a structure, dealing with adults, wiring the home, and making financial decisions so that everything remains within the budget.
Important Life Lessons
Luke’s father knew that the experience of building a home without much help from others would be a great learning curve for his son.
“It was a chance for a kid to do something more than play video games or sports,” Greg said. “It teaches life lessons.”
First Thing First: Earn Money
Luke and his father had to set a budget of $1,500 for the house. To get that sum of money was the first task. It may sound like little money to others, but it was still a huge sum to little Luke.
So, he started to raise money by mowing lawns, using reclaimed materials, and getting some online help as well. As it was Luke's first big project, there were a few extra hands to help him out.
Work Hard Dream Big
Luke could've easily called off his plan of building a home, but he remained persistent. He rolled up his sleeves and started working whatever task that came his way.
He cut the lawn of Scout leader so that he'd be able to add a carpet in the loft bedroom and cleaned the garage of his electrician neighbor so he would in return help in wiring Luke's house.
What Luke achieved at such a young age has made his dad incredibly proud. “He’s a very driven kid for his age,” said Luke’s dad."
After all, Luke stayed determined even when the project got stalled due to problems with money or the execution of plans.
It would've been almost impossible for Luke to build his home in just $1,500 without adapting minimalism.
He recycled leftover siding from his grandma's house and used the front door which was given to him by his uncle's friend. “I liked the minimalism,” Luke said. “And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.”
Luke didn't have to buy a new door and then his uncle's friend came in with old windows as well.
It is because he just didn't want Luke to have a house without any windows. No one likes nosy neighbors, right?
Recycled and Reused
The philosophy of tiny house advocates a simplistic lifestyle and using recycled items. You have no idea how many useful items we throw in the junk every day.
Luke's house is made of almost 75% of recycled materials. Going to recycled materials was not just economical, but it was environmentally friendly as well.
Luke's home has a small deck outside and has a pretty stable floor plan. The used sliding is made of half vinyl and half cedar shakes.
The beautiful little home is 5½ feet wide and 10 feet long. Is it livable? Keep on reading to find it out.
Welcome In My Humble Abode
When Luke finally completed his project, he welcomed everyone to take a look inside his newly built house.
There is a small kitchen area with a counter and a sitting area with a large ottoman, a mounted TV, and a flip-down table.
Technically, It's A Shed
Although it is a small home for Luke that has a ladder that leads to an upstairs loft, it is not a home (technically).
Luke's father told reporters that according to the city codes it is a "glorified shed."
Once Luke completed the home, he made a video tour of the house and uploaded it to his YouTube channel.
As expected, the video went viral and got millions of views. There are hundreds of comments on the video of people praising his efforts.
Hard Work Always Pays Off
There was negative feedback from some people at school, but Luke didn't care a lot about it.
He kept on working hard to make his dream home and the final result astounded everyone, even those who criticized him.
In a town with a population of about 58,000 people, the news about the incredible young boy spread like wildfire. Everyone was eager to see the project of a 13-year-old boy.
That's why Luke created a YouTube channel to show the world the progress of his project. His channel got media attention in no time.
An Exceptional Case
When Luke started watching videos of people constructing tiny homes, he noticed that there was no one younger than him.
“I couldn’t find anyone younger than 14. 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."
Inspiration for Others
Luke created a YouTube channel to show everyone how he was building his tiny house. He didn't know that his little project could inspire so many young children out there.
“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,” he said.
Getting Nervous for Another Reason
In one of the videos which Luke uploaded on his YouTube channel, he tells about how he was called down to the principal's office. As he is a student with good grades, he became nervous because he couldn’t think of any reason behind it.
To his surprise, the principal wanted to appreciate his efforts. There was a reporter in the office who wanted to cover Luke's story. It was cool news for a 13-year-old to hear that the paper wanted to do a story on him.
He Had To Take Care of A Lot of Mess
One of the things Luke learned from his experience is how to overcome disappointment.
He recalls his counter-top fail when he used broke colored glass and poured the lacquer on it but it ran all over everything.
"Small" Home But "Big" Lessons
Luke had to overcome a lot of failures that could've easily shattered the confidence of even an adult, let alone a young boy.
He did not give up and learned from his mistakes. Just like Alfred said in Batman that "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
Is The House Livable?
One look at the house can make you shout, "I wanna live in it." It has electricity, running water, and a bathroom.
However, there is no A/C or plumbing. The reason behind no plumbing is that the house is built in the backyard of Luke’s parents. Nevertheless, the house is truly livable.
A Multitalented Boy
Luke is not only a talented builder, but he is also a good chef. Okay, you can't call him a cook just because he knows how to make an egg, but still it is pretty impressive.
That's why he proudly posted a video of his "first meal" in his new house on his YouTube page.
As Luke's home became more popular (thanks to his YouTube page), he was contacted by a representative from TinyFest Midwest – a festival that promotes and celebrates tiny houses.
He was asked to give a speech and he delivered an inspiring speech in front of special guests.
A Perfect Home
When Luke completed working on his home, it measured a full 89 square feet. The home is equipped with an electric stovetop, a small fridge, and a separate bedroom.
There is a storage area under the marble countertop in the kitchen. It is a perfect home to live in, especially for a young boy.
It took about a year for Luke to complete his tiny home. But it wasn't just a project for him as he also wanted to live in it.
He not only sleeps a few nights a week in his new home but also does his homework there. It is like a little "man cave' for little Luke.
A Great Hanging Out Place
Although the house is small, it has a massive backyard, which is perfect for parties.
Luke's friends gather there to have fun parties and the backyard is capable of hosting great cookouts as well.
Worthy Front Page News
Many people have made tiny homes ever since Sarah Susanka, famous architect and bestselling author, started the Tiny House Movement with her book The Not So Big House in 1997. But why Luke got so much attention?
Well, it was big news because just a 13-year-old boy did something that many people are unable to do in their entire lives. Luke's story made the front page of Des Moines Register and the Telegraph Herald.
Good Morning America Interview
As the news spread all over the country about a young boy who built his tiny home, it didn't take long before Good Morning America approached Luke's parents for the interview.
They wanted to interview him and take a tour of his tiny house. That's not it. Luke was also contacted by a house designer. He couldn't believe his luck.
Meeting Your Idol
Luke felt like he was dreaming when he was contacted b Derek Diedricksen, an author and design and building tiny homes.
It is because Diedricksen was the inspiration behind Luke's decision to build his home. He heard words of encouragement from his idol and it meant a lot to him.
It Runs in The Family
Just like Luke, his brother, Cole, built his own teardrop camper by using tons of reclaimed and recycled materials.
Cole had one extra advantage - the expertise and experience of his brother.
That's Not It
The YouTube channel of Luke and Cole has thousands of subscribers and it is still growing. The channel has over 65k followers as of December 2019.
They also upload videos of their mom doing her projects, like the renovation of a 1972 camper.
His Own Space
Luke always wanted to have his own space where he could spend his some alone time.
“I have a twin brother so it gives me the chance to have my own space,” said the impressive builder.
So, when Luke gave a complete tour of his little home, he also mentioned the total expenses on building the house.
Although he spent a total of about $1,200, he said that he rounded it up in case he forgot something.
An Inspiration for Others
When Luke started working on his tiny home, he didn't know that it would get so much attention.
Once all was said and done, he had a message to share. “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age.”
Start of Something Big
Luke has no plans of stopping anytime soon. In fact, he has made big plans for his future.
His main purpose is to expand his starter home. “I’m going to save money and expand,” he said.
No One Can Doubt Him
So when Luke told ABC News that he has plans of building a bigger house and staying in it full-time, everyone knew in their hearts that he is very much capable of doing it.
"I guess if you’ve built a tiny home, you’re probably better equipped to build a large one too," he said.
Luke is not just a builder, but there is also an inventive entrepreneur inside of him.
He even launched his own line of merchandise with T-shirts and sweatshirts, which he designed himself. It looks like a great way to get funds for his upcoming projects.
Luke really enjoyed the entire building home experience, but there was another thing that really made him happy: it was the bonding with his dad.
“Me and my dad really bonded through the process…he was really busy but he made sure to spend time with me,” he said.
The smart Luke is on his way to becoming an advocate of small homes and a minimalistic lifestyle.
“Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical,” said Luke Thill. “You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead.”
People Like Luke Thill
Meet Renee McLaughlin; she also built her tiny home like Luke Thill. But before she did that, she sold her 3,300-square-foot home to live in her new tiny home which is only 87 square
“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
Becoming The Latest Sensation
Tiny homes that are less than 500 square feet are becoming quite popular.
The TinyFest organizer who contacted Luke was Renee McLaughlin. She invited young Luke to be a guest speaker at the festival. She loves her tiny home and cannot imagine living anywhere else.
Affordable and Simple
Although some people made fun of Renee's choice to live in a tiny home, she doesn't mind it at all. “I now own everything outright with no debt. I can move around. It’s nice to know I can just go,” she said.
There is no doubt in saying that tiny homes can save you a lot of money and they can make your life stress-free as well.
Renee advocates for living a simple life and she hopes to inspire others to live a life in which they can get rid of excessive things. She gives away clothes that she doesn't need, she recycles, and she shops less.
She did admit that getting rid of excess clothes and shoes was difficult at first but not anymore. “I’m a simple girl, but a girl, nonetheless,” she said.
It's A Good Idea
Today's "tiny home movement" is not just a great architectural idea but also a way to live a simple life in which you get to save a lot of money.
The movement is definitely a good idea for people who are looking to downsize.
Although the idea of living in a small house is exciting, one cannot deny the fact that it hasn't influenced a large number of people. Still, it is not a bad start.
According to a recent survey, there are just over 3,000 homes in the United States that are listed as "tiny homes." We hope this number grows in the coming years.
There is No Mortgage!
As an average tiny home costs around $23,000 to $25,000, it means that almost 70% of owners of tiny homes don't have to worry about mortgage.
If you want to save money, then a tiny home is a great solution to your problem. After all, a part of your monthly income won't be going to paying off your mortgage.
We Have to Play Our Role
We can learn a lot of things from 13-year-old Luke Thill. We can learn about determination, recycling, and living a simple life.
We can play our part in creating a better world. How can you do it? For starters, it is important to decrease your carbon footprint. Try to recycle and use environmentally friendly products. Try to create a better world for us and for our future generations.