Most teenagers look forward to turning eighteen, so they can finally move out of their parent’s home and live in their own space. But for one teen, that came sooner rather than later when he began building his “starter home” in June 2016.
Luke Thill, then 13 years old, built an 89-square-foot cozy beautiful home right in his parents’ four-acre property in Dubuque, Iowa. Thill spent $1,500 building the small structure from scratch, which he paid for by doing all kinds of jobs for neighbors and friends, including cleaning out garages and cutting lawns!
A teenager standing in front of the tiny home he built from scratch
“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 told ABC News. “I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own.”
“I liked the minimalism. And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage,” he told the Des Moines Register. Thill was able to keep his costs down by using reclaimed materials. He took the leftover siding from his grandma’s house, and he got several windows and a front door gifted by his uncle’s friend.
Luke Thill and his dad, Greg Thill, standing inside the tiny home they’re building
His mother, Angie Thill, helped with the interior furnishings, while his father, Greg Thill, guided him along the way. His twin sister and brother also helped. The project was a family effort, but Thill did most of the work himself, including tasks outside manual labor.
He learned how to frame and wire a home, bargain for labor and other assistance, and make major financial decisions. “It was a chance for a kid to do something more than play video games or sports,” his dad said. “It teaches life lessons.”
Luke Thill working on the construction of his tiny home
In return for cleaning out his garage, an electrician neighbor helped him wire the tiny home. After he mowed at his apartment buildings, a local Scout leader helped Thill install carpet in the bedroom.
Thill managed to cram a seating area, a wall-mounted TV, a mini-refrigerator, a sleeping loft, and a fold-up dining table into the compact space.
He also constructed a little deck outdoors, using half cedar shakes and half vinyl sheeting.