How a 13-year-old built his own tiny house for $1,500

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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.” Money expert Clark Howard loves this attitude!

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.

An eighth-grader built a tiny home for $1,500 — and it’s not a playhouse

Now the teen is becoming a construction guru, snaring a speaking engagement at a recent tiny house festival in Colfax, Iowa.

Luke is also a Youtuber, explaining how he was able to build a livable home for less than a lot of people’s mortgage payment.

In the video, he gives a tour of the mini-home and says the total cost of the structure was really “more like $1,200, but I rounded it up just in case I forgot anything.” The 89-square-foot home has a countertop inside, a bedroom, compartments for a refrigerator, closet space and even plumbing.

Tiny houses are growing in popularity as more people opt for smaller living spaces and hyper-affordability. The tiny homes, typically defined as a dwelling between 100 and 400 square feet, allow homeowners to save big on things such as maintenance costs and utility bills. They also contribute to a smaller carbon footprint.

The homes offer another huge benefit: extreme mobility. If you don’t like where your tiny house is located, you can move it.

Tiny houses cost on average about $23,000, which means nearly 70% of owners have no mortgage. Furthermore, the small houses can be either built on site or shipped to a location. What’s not to love, right? Well, one con is that they can be deadly to relationships. What group of friends is going to want to hang out at your place? And where are they going to fit? There are other pros and cons as well.


Money expert Clark Howard says that the tiny home movement is a great place to start for people looking for affordable residences — but there are other options. The Habitat for Humanity homes he helps build use computer aided design to utilize every inch of available space. This allows them to build 4 bedroom, 2 bath homes with only 1,000 square feet.

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