If you thought saving up the money to buy a home was easy, well, you’re wrong. It can take years to do that. Which is why some people build their own homes (with the help of others, of course) to save money. But who would have thought that one can build his own home for just $1500? Well, 13-year-old Luke Thill proved that it’s possible to do so without having to take out a mortgage. In fact, he’s done it all by himself in his parent’s backyard! You can check out Luke’s impressive story here, and maybe learn some tips on how to build your own home, too.


Like we mentioned, Luke Thill can proudly say that he did it all by himself. Of course, he didn’t do it overnight. And, needless to say, a feat of this magnitude needed a lot of planning, which the 8th grader from Dubuque, Iowa, masterfully did. Indeed, Luke had to take on more than a few odd jobs just to earn the cash to create his own 89-square-foot “starter home.” And based on what he’s been able to accomplish here, it’s pretty obvious that he did not let anything, even the prospect of bankruptcy, stand in his way.


Every time Luke is asked about what inspired him to do such a thing, his simple answer was that he was inspired by a few Youtube videos he’s seen about tiny home building. He thought that it would be such a cool idea to create one for himself—one that had awesome flooring. “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..” Luke said for an interview with ABC news. “I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own.”


Luke also shared that it was also boredom that motivated him to create his own home. He said that he wanted to have something to do. He recalls that during one summer vacation, while people his age locked themselves in their rooms to play video games, he was outside, thinking whether he should start his dream of building his own home. Eventually, and after careful planning, he decided to do it. It took a long time to finish because there weren’t any online classes that he could take to guide him, but he said that in the end, it was all worth it.


Once Luke had all his plans drawn out and had been able to collect the requisite amount of funds for his project, the next thing he had to do was ask permission from his parents. Needless to say, Luke’s parents immediately acquiesced, seeing Luke was determined to see his project come to fruition. How can they say no?—after all, Luke had all his investment money ready to start the build. It was also definitely a good thing that the Thill family lived in a sizable 4-acre property that had more than enough extra space for Luke to build his own home in it.


Luke’s parents were happy about Luke wanting to get into this project all by himself, but nevertheless, Greg, Luke’s dad, wanted to lay down some ground rules before Luke started. Greg wanted Luke to raise the money and build the house on his own. Greg told his son that he shouldn’t expect anyone to take care of his house for him—after all, it will be his so he needed to be responsible for it. We’re not sure if this meant that Luke needed to pay for his own electricity bill, but he was certainly content to follow his dad to a tee.


For an interview with ABC News, Luke’s dad shared that he wanted to instill some discipline in Luke, as far as the home-building project was concerned. “We said, ‘If you’re that serious we have to set some ground rules,’” Greg told ABC News. “We told him he had to have the financial responsibility of it, raise the money and choose the materials and stay in the budget.” Luke’s parents were all in favor of him getting on with the project, but they wanted to be more than just his financial advisor, they wanted their son to learn some important lessons along the way.


In an interview with ABC News, Luke’s father shared that he wanted to instill in Luke some discipline about housing construction projects. “We said, ‘If you take this seriously, we have to make some basic rules.” Greg told ABC News. “We told him that he must take financial responsibility for this, raise funds, select materials and stay in the budget.” Luke’s parents all supported him to continue the project, but they not only wanted to be his financial adviser, but also I hope my son will learn some important lessons in this process.


Greg fully expected the construction project to be a blessing to Luke, in terms of the many life lessons he can take away from it, which will better serve him later on in life than a finance degree could. It’s not every day that a 13-year-old kid will decide to go through the tedious process of building his own home. While most kids play video games and surf the net for useless things, Luke chose another route and decided to do something useful. Greg was proud of his son for not being like the other kids who have to be scared into doing something useful.


One thing Luke’s parents could also be proud of was the way in which Luke planned the whole thing. Since Luke needed money to buy the materials he’d be using for his construction project, he took on a number of odd jobs to be able to cover his expenses. Luke mowed the lawn of a few of his neighbors and raised a good amount of money online for his project. And, to Luke’s credit, it all worked out rather well. Indeed, there was a lot of planning that went into this project, and while some plans didn’t really pan out, some worked better than expected.


It was also fantastic for Luke’s parents to see that Luke wasn’t just hardworking, he was also a brilliant strategist. He was able to enter into unique working arrangements with others, doing work for them in exchange for them doing work on his house. In one such arrangement, Luke cleaned the garage of his electrician neighbor in exchange for the latter working on the electrical wiring of his house. In another, Luke cut someone’s lawn in exchange for some carpets that he wanted to add to the flooring of his house. Luke, incredibly, was able to do all that—at the young age of 13.


Needless to say, Greg is one proud dad. It’s rare that a kid this young can be this motivated and disciplined. Luke’s parents know that they’ve pretty much hit the lottery with Luke. He was definitely a unique kid, especially when compared to his peers and other kids his age, who would typically surf the net and use their parents’ credit cards with wild abandon. “He’s a very driven kid for his age,” Greg said. “There were times the project got stalled out and he had to earn more money for the next phase. He wouldn’t let it go and kept working at it.”


Luke didn’t merely do odd jobs and work for people in exchange for them making a contribution to his house, he also had the mind to recycle old material just to cut back on expenses. Indeed, he used some of the leftover material from his grandmother’s house to create the siding of his house project. He also used an old door that the friend of his uncle gave him, so he wouldn’t have to buy one. “I liked the minimalism,” Luke said for an interview. “And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.”


The friend of Luke’s uncle was so inspired by Luke’s construction project that he decided to contribute more than just the door. It turns out that he had a few unused windows lying in his house which he found under some old roofing materials, and since he had no need for them just yet, he decided to give them to Luke, who he thought would be needing it more than he would. And the windows happened to fit perfectly in Luke’s well-constructed house. It only required a few adjustments to the window sill, which Luke was able to do with ease.


One thing so remarkable about Luke’s home is that it’s been constructed from recycled material. From the flooring to the siding, to… well a lot more else—it’s all recycled material! Indeed, nearly 75% of the house was made from recycled material, which of course includes more than just the material he’s been able to get from his uncle’s friend. To be sure, not many people can say this about their homes, but Luke can, which makes him an absolute swell guy. This was one of the main reasons why he was able to keep the costs so low.


If you think the house is more than a little tiny for one to comfortably live in, well, you’re definitely wrong. Luke, with the help of his dad, did a good job in maximizing the floor plan. The house’s interior space is a good 5.5 feet in width and 10 feet in length. Not only that, it features a loft, as well as a small deck outside in which guests can unwind. Two people can definitely live in relative comfort inside the house, especially because the interior feels cozy and comfortable. Thankfully, Luke also has access to electricity, water, and Wifi!


Anyone who enters the house will immediately notice that it is quite well appointed. Luke deserves all the credit for designing it as such. He doesn’t merely have a kitchen in it, he also has a sizable counter over which to prepare food. There is also an abundance of storage space so the place doesn’t get cluttered. Luke also ingeniously installed a table that can be flipped over when not in use to avoid taking up space. The interior of the house also features a wall-mounted TV, for when Luke wants to relax and binge on a show or two.


The small and well-appointed house even features a loft, where there’s a mattress for sleeping in. The addition of a loft is a great idea especially for a tiny home since it is a small, extra space that is tucked above where a small bed that can accommodate an extra person or two can be placed. A loft can also have other uses including a work area, a reading nook, or another private area for relaxing. Also, adding a loft to your tiny home, to the degree that you can, is a great way for you to get more out of your square footage.


Luke worked really hard. And it was all to see his dream of owning his own house fulfilled. Many doubted him, even a few of his friends did, and, boy, did he prove them wrong. Some doubters in Luke’s own school didn’t infrequently express their doubts to Luke’s face, but that didn’t stop Luke, or even make him doubt for a minute because he believed in himself, and it didn’t matter what anyone’s credit score was. The fact that Luke was able to complete his project despite all the difficulty and the doubt thrown at him is what makes him so inspiring.


Word of Luke’s accomplishment went around in no time. And it wasn’t a surprise that it did. After all, almost anyone who sees what Luke did will be naturally compelled to share it, just on account of how awesome it is. So, naturally, the people who’ve encountered Luke or have heard about him and what he was doing were more than happy to share it with others, to the degree that they could, either through social media or word of mouth. Since interest in his project became so high, Luke decided to create a Youtube channel and share to the world his progress.


Luke shared that in all his time watching people build tiny homes on TV or on Youtube, he was never able to encounter someone who was as young as he is. “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,” Luke said. Indeed, Luke is perhaps the youngest tiny home builder on Youtube, or on any other platform for that matter. While most kids his age were busy playing video games, Luke was busy fixing the flooring of his home.


As anyone could have expected, Luke’s choice to chronicle his progress on Youtube seems to have been the right one. “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,” said Luke. It very much seems like a lot of kids were inspired by Luke and have gone on to plan construction projects of their own. After all, there are many lessons that Luke learned in the process of building his home (money management, discipline, hard work, etc.) and these are lessons that other kids can learn as well.


Luke’s followers will remember that in one of his more memorable Youtube videos, he was called to the principal’s office. Luke had no idea why he was being called. He was pretty sure he hadn’t done anything wrong, and was quite certain that his grades were high, so it was a mystery why he was being called into the principal’s office. “I don’t go there very often,” Luke said in the vide. “I’ve never gone there for anything bad.” Luke felt like he needed to speak to an attorney, out of worry, which is what made the video so amusing.


It turns out that Luke had absolutely nothing to worry about, since the principal introduced him to a reporter friend who wanted to report on the story. Luke would eventually be in contact with many people who are interested in his story. A lot of these people who’ve shared his story and made it more popular than it already was were those who’ve either heard about his story from friends, or who’ve come into contact with his videos. After all, there exists a growing interest in tiny homes, given that mortgage rates are high, and some want to cut down on expenses.


In the process of constructing his home, Luke learned many lessons along the way. Included in which are the ones already discussed by Luke’s father, Greg, but some lessons were more terrestrial, and had to do with the actual construction of the furniture. One such example is when Luke tried to construct a counter-top; he used broken glass that had different colors on it to simulate a lacquer surface, Unfortunately, mistakes in putting each element together coupled with his inexperience doing the kind of work resulted in the surface being too watery to be usable. A lot of it even spilled on the flooring.


What’s good about Luke’s attitude is that he was able to take everything, every mistake in stride, and learn from them so he doesn’t commit them again. While most would have thrown their hands in the air and given up, Luke chose to persist and muscle on. He knew he would fail often, to one degree or another, but he also knew that what mattered was how he picked himself up after. Through determination, hard-work, and a ton of research, Luke was able to fix the countertop, and we have to say that it turned out better than expected.


When Luke gets into something, he makes sure to follow through. He doesn’t merely want to settle for mediocrity. He wants to do a good job and do it to such an exceptional degree that he can look at it and feel a frisson of pride. Whether it’s in the construction of his home, or in some new challenge he wants to face like in working the kitchen. Indeed, he made some content for his Youtube channel that showcased his cooking skills. Of course, he’s no expert at it, but given his dedication, we’re sure he will be in the near future.


Since Luke was famous among the tiny home subculture, a festival in Colfax, Iowa that was all about tiny homes invited him to attend as one of their very special guests. It was the first time Luke had to talk in front of a crowd, and while he seemed very nervous at first, he was eventually, to his credit, able to give his speech without any hitch. The festival made Luke and his labor of love even more popular in the tiny home community than they already were, and his story was able to reach even more ears than it previously did.


Luke was unbelievably excited when his home entered the final phase of construction. He now had a whole house to himself. It was a cozy, snug little area where he could sleep, eat, relax, and pretty much do anything he liked. But despite all the features and creature comforts his tiny house provided, there was one thing that Luke wasn’t able to install in his house: a toilet. A toilet, after all, would require a ton of plumbing services or work, which required a ton of money. This is money that Luke simply didn’t have for the time being.


You might be wondering how long it took Luke to complete his tiny home project. Well, it took the good part of a year for him to finish everything, and when he was done, it looked absolutely perfect. And believe us when we tell you that Luke put the house to good use. He sleeps in it regularly, hangs out in it often, and uses the place quite frequently to entertain some of his friends and guests. It’s also a place that he often goes to when he wants some privacy, whether to study or attend online classes, we’re not sure.


Luke’s home may be small, but he’s definitely got a huge backyard. Indeed, he can frequently be found hanging out with a few of his friends, enjoying a cookout of some kind in his home’s backyard, which he shares with his parents, who aren’t infrequently chilling like villains with him, too. These are the moments that Luke says he really enjoys; when they’re just hanging by the house, telling stories about mortgage rates and whatnot, and basically just chilling out. Indeed, many of the plans he was able to implement for his house were borne from chill-out sessions such as these.


Luke became a media sensation. He was already somewhat of an internet celebrity but major news outlets picked up on his story and made him an even bigger local celebrity. And, it was all to be expected, given his story had the perfect combination of being interesting and inspirational. In fact, Luke’s story was featured on the front page of not one but two newspaper magazines, the Des Moines Register and the Telegraph Herald. Soon enough, anyone with a good credit report had heard about Luke. What’s more, Luke’s story was also featured in Good Morning America and other, smaller local news stations.


It was Luke’s feature in Good Morning America that catapulted him to new heights. It was a very popular show that a lot of people watched. Many have reached out to Luke and congratulated him on what he’s been able to accomplish when the episode featuring his construction project came out in Good Morning America. Nobody in Luke’s family had expected his celebrity status to rise that much, but they were all thankful for it. In fact, because of that single episode in Good Morning America, Luke had been contacted by one of his idols (who wasn’t a lawyer).


Derek Diedricksen, Luke’s Idol, heard about Luke’s tiny construction project and contacted him to congratulate him on his efforts. Luke was, needless to say, over the moon. Derek Diedricksen, to those who don’t know, is an author and builder of tiny homes. He’s also a master at doing tiny home roof repairs. He is one of Luke’s many idols. Derek, in particular, is one of the inspirations Luke had for creating his own tiny home. The two remain friends on social media and Luke considers the friendship he formed with Derek as one of the highlights of his tiny home journey.


Luke didn’t just inspire kids everywhere to redirect their efforts into something worthwhile, he also managed to inspire his brother Cole who created his own teardrop camper. And Cole’s creation, just like Luke’s, used mostly recycled and reclaimed material. Cole did more than just create a camper, he also put out a Youtube channel just like his brother did where he shared his progress. Of course, Cole was very lucky, because he had Luke, who at this point had more than a little experience in construction projects. Luke helped Cole a lot, as an extra helping hand and a financial advisor of sorts.


Luke and Cole’s Youtube channels have quite a lot of subscribers already, this is apart from the many followers they have on their various social media accounts. Of course, all of that is quite impressive for a bunch of teenagers who aren’t related to Kim Kardashian. Many people, especially budding builders, love watching Luke’s Youtube content, because he doesn’t just feature his own projects, but projects of other people as well. In one particular video, he featured his mom’s renovation of her 1972 camper. And in another, Luke’s mom fixed the flooring on her sheep herder’s wagon.


Luke shared that he’s very happy with his house. He says “I have a twin brother so it gives me the chance to have my own space.” And who, after all, wouldn’t want to have his own space, away from the hustle and bustle of life. It also helps that his house has all the creature comforts that Luke needs, like electricity, Wifi, and a lot more else. Luke happily shares that he’s much more relaxed in his house than anywhere else. There’s just such a good feeling about hanging out in a place that you’ve expended a lot of effort to construct.


One of the most-watched videos Luke had on his channel was when he gave a tour of his home and discussed the costs he incurred during its construction. The “[cost was] more like $1,200, but I rounded it up just in case I forgot anything,” said Luke. Indeed, Luke was able to do something remarkable by capping the cost to just around $1,200. And he did this by using a lot of recycled and reclaimed material for the structure of his house—it was ingenious, really, as well as very inspiring for would-be lawyers and tiny home builders.


In retrospect, there was nothing that could have prepared Luke for all the attention he was getting because of his decision to build his own tiny home. It was totally unexpected, and being a celebrity, to the degree that he now is, was the last thing in his mind when he started out. But, just the same, the chips fell where they did, and Luke has now become an inspiration to many, whether young or old. “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age,” Luke said when talking about why he was inspired to do what he did.


Luke said that his main purpose was to build what he calls a “starter home,” one in which he can live and one which he fully intends to expand after he’s able to save more money. The journey isn’t over for Luke because he fully intends to engage in other projects and perhaps build upon the house he’s already created. The options are endless, he says, because he can go in any direction with his house, like put it on a trailer, or build a new one entirely. In fact he can get into investment planning and construction altogether when he grows up.


Luke, for an interview with ABC, shared: “In a couple of years I want to build a bigger house and stay in it full-time.” And why not? After all, he’s already been able to build. something that was worthy of everyone’s attention, so a bigger house is clearly in the offering. He’s still young, and he still has a long way to go, but what’s certain is that he’s on the right path. Luke definitely has the investment planning and construction industry in his sights, and when he gets older, he will surely be involved with more amazing things.


The best part of the build for Luke was having a lot of bonding moments 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,” Luke said for an interview. Luke was able to bond with his father throughout the investment planning and construction process, as they’ve been able to spend an inordinate amount of time together. Luke knows that even if the whole thing didn’t work out as expected, it still would have been all worth it because of the time he was able to spend with his dad.


Luke is surprisingly wise beyond his years, explaining one time that while everyone wants a big home—with a big space in which to luxuriate—he has been able to determine that it isn’t very practical. Luke doesn’t need a finance degree to know what and what is not practical in terms of living space. “Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical,” Luke said. Indeed, Luke argues that living in a tiny home can do wonders for someone’s savings account. “You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead,” Luke said.


Renee McLaughlin (Renee McLaughlin) is also widely known in small family communities. She built her own small family from the ground up and created an enviable living space within 87 square feet. She was so fascinated by the life of a small family that she sold a 3,300 square foot house with the latest home security system and immediately set about building a small family. McLaughlin said in an interview about her previous residence: “I think we have reached the beginning of this’thing’ that makes our lives work. We spent all our time trying to buy, clean and organize it. We are very happy. ”


While many will still be fantasizing about living in a mansion that has all the space they could possibly need, Renee McLaughlin said that tiny homes are also becoming more and more popular. Renee says that tiny homes are the new “in” thing which became something of a social movement. People are simply finding tiny home living, and the philosophy surrounding it, an attractive lifestyle. Which is why Renee organized the TinyFest Midwest, where she invited Luke to speak. The festival features various tiny homes and shares with people how tiny home living and a few money management practices can simplify and change their lives.


Renee said that people used to laugh at her and mock her lifestyle, thinking she’s a flower-power hippie that’s stuck in the 60s. But now, people have started to realize that there exists a lot of perks in tiny home living. Not only is the lifestyle affordable, but it also affords a debt-free life. Plus, it furnishes them with the ability to just leave everything behind and take their home with them wherever without needing the services of a moving company. “I now own everything outright with no debt,” Renee said. “I can move around. It’s nice to know I can just go.”


Renee said that one of the things that makes adopting the tiny home lifestyle a bit difficult for some is their resistance to getting rid of things they think they need but that they actually do not. The degree to which they can do this will determine their success in adapting to the lifestyle. Tiny home living requires that adherents let go of excess things and live only with those which are essential. Despite that, Renee admits that she herself finds the prospect of chucking out old shoes and clothes a difficult one. “I’m a simple girl, but a girl, nonetheless,” Renee said.


Unfortunately, despite all the benefits tiny home living can give to would-be adherents, it is simply the case that some cities don’t have the necessary support structure that makes tiny home living easy. As an example, other cities have city codes that require houses to have certain square footage. This is naturally a problem for people who want to live in tiny homes since a lot of tiny homes are still smaller than what is required by the few city codes. Luckily for Luke Thill, he didn’t have to hire a lawyer, since the house he built just about reached the requirements of Des Moines.


Tiny home living, like we said, is more than just fitting all your stuff in a box and living in a space that’s as big as a small van. It’s a philosophy that many find appealing, because it simplifies their lives, allows them a form of mobility that’s not possible in other kinds of lifestyles. It also allows people to declutter and make decisions that are favorable to the environment. Another thing about tiny home living is that it is affordable—people can redirect their expenses for other things or to other investments that make their lives happy and valuable.


With all those benefits, it’s no wonder that many find the tiny home living lifestyle appealing. And the movement is undoubtedly gaining steam, as more and more are adopting the philosophy of tiny home living. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done; indeed, in a recent survey that was done, it was established that only 3,000 out of every 1.5 Million homes can be classified as ‘tiny homes.’ Needless to say, because mortgages and the costs of maintaining large homes is on the rise, it’s reasonable to assume that that number will still be increasing.


Because tiny homes are so cheap to construct and even cheaper to maintain, more than 70% of tiny homeowners don’t have the need to pay off mortgages. Any homeowner knows that one of the biggest commitments to owning a home is the concomitant mortgage. These mortgages even typically last for 20 to 30 years—it’s a real financial as well as emotional commitment that a homeowner must get into. But the good thing about owning a tiny home is that problems such as these are largely nonexistent. Even if one decidedly mortgaged a tiny home, it definitely won’t be as expensive as a normal-sized home.


This is primarily why Luke Thill is such an important figure. It’s also why we need more people like him to inspire us to change not just the destructive habits to which we’ve been accustomed, but also the way we ultimately see and appreciate our lives and our environment. People like Luke inspire us to find value in lessening our carbon footprint. They show us that, with tiny home and some money management skills, a life that is in perfect equilibrium with the environment is possible. After all, having a purposeful and valuable life doesn’t need to come at the expense of the environment.

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