This 13-Year-Old Boy Built His Own House

The Tiny House

While scrolling the net, he found a “Tiny House” instructional YouTube video. Luke decided that he too wanted to build his own house in his family’s backyard. He set his mind to it and was determined to get the job done, and not only that, it was going to be impressive.

Can He Build It?

Taking on a huge project such as building your own house is not an easy task. Knowing that he would need a number of different recourses to get the project started, he did what most kids never do, he asked his parents. What did they think about his somewhat unconventional idea?

Getting Started

Luke’s parents were supportive of the idea and thought it was a great way to get him out of the house during the summer and do something productive. Many kids simply spend their summers on the couch watching TV or playing video games. But He was going to have to work for the tools and equipment that he needed.

Recycled and Reused

Well, Luke was cleaning out those garages anyways and found loads of materials he could use. A family friend even had an old front door laying around that they were more than happy to part with. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure after all.

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Not Afraid to Ask for Help

Apart from offering his services for money, he also worked in exchange for assistance in his project. There is only so much you can learn from a DIY video after all. And there are certain things, like wiring a house for electricity, for example, that call for an expert.

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Keeping ‘em Updated

Word of Luke’s tiny house project spread like wildfire and pretty soon he was being asked for updates on the progress daily. While he was thrilled people were excited, he also didn’t want to answer the same question multiple times a day.

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Media Attention

One fateful day when Luke was in school he was called into the principal’s office. Such an event can be stressful for anyone! Not knowing whether he was in trouble, he headed down to see the principal. But turned out that he wasn’t in trouble at all. His video had gained a big media following and the local newspaper wanted to interview him.

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Getting to Work

Luke had gathered enough materials to start the actual building process. Through all of his odd jobs around the neighborhood and some savings, he pulled together a total of $1,500 for his tiny house project. For someone so young that is pretty impressive.

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A Creative Countertop

Luke decided to get creative with his DIY skills and set out to create a beautiful countertop using broken pieces of stained glass and glaze. He watched the YouTube video on how the process worked and felt fairly confident that he would be able to create a cheap and interesting countertop. Sadly the experiment ended in disaster. After arranging the shards of colored glass in the positions he wanted he added the glaze. But the liquid ended up leaking through the mold he used. Let’s just say that it was quite the mess to clean up. It didn’t discourage Luke from finishing his project, however.


Luke’s tiny house became so popular and was reported across the country. So much so that a representative from TinyFest Midwest contacted him. TinyFest is a festival that celebrates and promotes tiny houses. He was asked to give a speech at the event! The timing couldn’t have been better. Luke had just recently earned his Boy Scout merit badge for public speaking. What a great opportunity to put that skill to use. Luke is even featured on the TinyFest website as a speaker. But how did his project turn out?

Is it Fully Livable?

Luke’s hard labor certainly paid off and he was nearing completion. The house even had electricity! But what about the plumbing you ask… Every house needs running water and a bathroom. That, unfortunately, was a bit more than the 13-year-old could handle. He tried to think up numerous ways to create a plumbing infrastructure but they all just turned out to be far too great a task. The tiny house was in his parent’s backyard so he would just have to make do with using the restroom in the family house. Also, there is no A/C…

Tiny House


Once the house was completed Luke made a video tour and uploaded it to his YouTube channel. The video quickly went viral and has almost 7.5 million views! Wow. At the moment his channel has over 16,000 subscribers who tune in to his videos. Luke’s tour video has received hundreds of comments. Almost all overwhelmingly positive. Many commenters voiced their support, saying that Luke has helped inspire them to be more active and take on a project. Others shared their own experiences about what they were doing when they were Luke’s age.

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A Place To Call His Own

Ok, so you’re probably thinking the house looks decent from the outside but asking what could possibly be inside and is it livable. The answer is yes! Prepare to be impressed. The tiny home includes a kitchen, living area, dining area and a separate bedroom.Well, technically the living and dining area are a two in one setup, but there is a fold-down table which distinguishes each purpose. The bedroom is located in the upstairs loft separated from the rest of the house, allowing for some privacy.

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Fit For a King

When it was all said and done the tiny house measured a full 89 square feet. The kitchen is equipped with a small fridge, an electric stove top, and bottled water. Luke even laid floor linoleum on the walls to give it a tiled look.

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A Leisurely Lounge

The living room, though it is small, is decked out with a couch and a TV. Sounds like every teenager’s dream. Luke’s parents deemed the tiny house acceptable as well. They even allow him to sleep in it a couple times a week.

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Luke, still only 13 at the time, made the front page! Both the Des Moines Register and the Telegraph Herald wrote up articles about Luke and the tiny house he built and headlined him in their newspapers. The 2007-08 financial crisis also led a growing number of people to search for more affordable and eco-friendly living solutions. Besides building tiny homes from scratch, another option becoming increasingly popular is to convert existing garages into small homes.

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Inspiration and Admiration

When asked why he decided to build the tiny house, apart from summer boredom, Luke said something very un-teenager-like. He stated that he “wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.” We don’t think those words have ever been uttered by a 13-year-old. The house is super environmentally friendly and made with all natural materials.

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Family Values

Inspired by his younger brother, older brother Cole has also taken on an impressive DIY project. A teardrop camper, which is a lot like just a tinier tiny house on wheels. Between the two, the brothers are set for home and travel.

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Life Lessons

Luke stated that the tiny house he built was really a practice tiny house. He will use all the skills he learned from the process of making the first house to help him build a larger and more efficient tiny house in the future.

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Tiny Houses Everywhere

Like Luke, people all over the world find inspiration in the Tiny House Movement. The movement advocates simple living in small houses, much like Luke’s. Though there’s no official definition or measurements as to what constitutes as a tiny house, most structures meant for human habitation under 500 square feet usually fit the bill.

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The Birth of the Movement

Architect and best-selling author Sarah Susanka is credited for inspiring the birth of the recent phenomenon of the Tiny House Movement with her book, The Not So Big House, released in 1997. Susanka’s aim was to encourage people to “build better, not bigger.”

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Why the Trend Caught On

With housing prices increasing all over the world, moving to a simpler, more efficient living becomes attractive to a growing number of people. 2005’s Hurricane Katrina also had an effect, after designer Marianne Cusato created 308 square feet residential shelters named ‘Katrina Cottages,’ generating worldwide interest. The 2007-08 financial crisis also led a growing number of people to search for more affordable and eco-friendly living solutions. Besides building tiny homes from scratch, another option becoming increasingly popular is to convert existing garages into small homes.

Life in a Tiny House

Living in a tiny house isn’t as easy as it seems. Though people who live in small homes save money and can pride themselves on greener living, there are many drawbacks they need to cope with, such as the obvious lack of living and storage space.

Besides the lack of space to spread their legs in, tiny homeowners say it’s hard to find a building spot for these unusual structures since they’re not always built to code. With the lack of plumbing infrastructure in his own tiny home, Luke Thill can definitely relate.