This Unique Story Is About A Determined 13-Year-Old Boy Who Raises $1,500 To Construct His Own Tiny House
Luke Thill certainly is not your average 13-year-old boy. Like most teenagers his age, all they are interested in is chilling with their pals and purchasing the newest and coolest toy or device. Luke had different motivations such as building a tiny home in his parents’ backyard.
A self-motivated Luke raised the necessary funds for his tiny home project and involved his neighbors, friends, and family. That’s extremely impressive! Enjoy this wonderful story that centers on Luke Thill’s dream of building his very own tiny house.
A Little Bit About Luke Thill
A determined middle schooler, Luke Thill is a self-starter from Iowa. He came up with the plan to not do what all his other friends were doing. Instead, Luke had it in his mind that he would construct a tiny house from scratch.
Luke drew the inspiration from watching tiny house videos on YouTube. The more videos he watched, the more the idea grew on him to want to do it himself! His obsession grew so much to the point that he chose to build his own.
His Project Hinged On One Condition
Luke’s loving parents, Greg and Angie Thill, recognized that their son had a plan and would stop at nothing to fulfill it. Despite Luke being 13, they trusted him to follow through on his mission. With his parents’ blessing, they allowed him to build the tiny house in their backyard on their own property. There was only one particular condition that would enable Luke to build on his parent’s property. They told him that he had to come up with the money himself (because they obviously wouldn’t) which surely would be a challenge.
This news would not set Luke back at all. His parents shared with Luke that it was his responsibility to bear the financial burden of the tiny home project. Even his dad said to him: “If you’re that serious we have to set some ground rules.” Luke valiantly proceeded.
Luke Came Up With $1,500
Nothing would deter Luke from raising the money for his tiny home project. So, like any self-motivated teen, he mowed some lawns in his neighborhood and also traded a few personal items with his sister and twin brother’s assistance.
In order to meet the goal of his construction budget, Luke put together a tiny fundraiser. In addition to raising the money, he also performed landscape work and scraped money together in any way that he possibly could.
He Proved He Was Financially Responsible
Middle school kids are probably not the most financially responsible and would most likely spend all their money in one go. Luke, however, wasn’t like other kids. He showed enormous restraint when it came to the money he raised.
Impressively, Luke saved his money by putting it into a savings account so it would be harder dip into and spend. Tell us — do you know of any 13-year-olds who possess that amount of responsible thinking? The answer is probably “no.”
And So It Begins...!
It was in June 2016 when Luke began building the tiny house. Since doing this required assistance, he got the help of his dad to do a lot of the construction. His mom also did her fair share, too, by giving him advice on the interior design.
Also, Luke’s siblings helped him out. They taught Luke the valuable business of trading with his friends and family in exchange for reclaimed materials and their valuable time. It’s really great how everybody pitched in to help! Even Luke’s neighbor taught him how to wire the house. Luckily, his neighbor was an electrician.
Building The Tiny Home Was A Big Challenge
The time-consuming process of building the tiny home wasn’t easy nor short. Although Luke had the much needed help of family, friends, and neighbors, it was still very difficult. In addition to that, Luke’s incredible work ethic also came in handy.
All in all, Luke spent a year and a half building the perfect tiny home. That’s a long time for a teenager to spend investing their time, energy, and effort into something! Luke continued to be persistent in his journey and possessed remarkable determination to get him through everything.
Recycling Was Important
Luke is very big on recycling and wanted to make sure that as many materials were recycled as possible. A friend of a friend offered a front door. His grandma brought some siding. Using recycled objects kept his costs down to $1,500.
Many of the materials that make up his tiny house are reused or recycled from other people that got involved in the project. Luke is obviously motivated for his age. But he might be even more resourceful!
The Final Product
When all was said and done the house measured at 89 square feet and 10 feet tall. It is a tiny house indeed! The home is complete with a fridge, a microwave, a T.V., and a video game console.
The electricity is all hooked up, but there isn’t plumbing just yet. Good thing his parents house is only a few feet away. When the home was finished he was proud to gather everyone in the backyard and give them a tour of the finished product.
Luke’s Pride In His Project
The 13-year-old was naturally proud of his incredible project. He explained, “Seeing everything come together was very satisfying. There were some very challenging times throughout the build but I never wanted to quit”.
He isn’t the only one with a passion for tiny homes. The concept has gained popularity in recent years. There are even shows based around the concept of minimalism and tiny home design.
The Love For Tiny Homes
Luke is not the only one to fall in love with the concept of tiny homes. They kind of had a surge of popularity online in recent years. When people started posting their own tiny homes on YouTube, they only grew in popularity.
They encourage a lifestyle of minimalism and purpose. Everything has its place and there’s no room for anything that is not absolutely necessary. It promotes a lifestyle of cleanliness because there really isn’t room for any mess.
He Made His Parents Very Proud
Luke’s parents acknowledge how proud they are of their son for committing to such a project and following it through. His dad mentioned that Luke is extremely driven for a kid of his age.
He mentioned that in times when the project would be stalled and he would have to find ways to continue raising money along the way. He never gave up and kept working until the project was something he could be proud of.
Luke Loves His Space
Luke is obviously so proud of the space he has created for himself. He introduced minimalistic elements that he had seen in YouTube videos. The dining table folds into the wall to save space.
This leaves room for what he calls the “Hangout zone”. He likes to use the space to do homework in some peace and quiet or just spend time alone playing video games or watching T.V.
Luke Didn’t Move In
Despite the fact that Luke spent a year and a half on the build, he didn’t actually want to move into the home. You would think a young teenager would want to spend every possible second in this home away from home, but Luke saw it as more of a space to spend time with friends or have some alone time.
Luke said, “The tiny house was always meant to be a space to have friends over and to entertain people. I have had many friends over and we watch movies, cook food, hangout, or play games”.
He Hosted Thanksgiving For The Family In His New Home
The tight quarters of the 89 square foot home did not stop the Thill family from gathering for special occasions. Luke hosted Thanksgiving at his place! Luckily, it’s in the family’s backyard so no one had to travel too far.
The family of 5 and the dog all fit into the space and Luke explained that they “had everything a normal Thanksgiving dinner would have”.
The Biggest Lesson Luke Learned From The Tiny House Project
While Luke learned many things from his time spent on this project, he explained that his main takeaway was the value of community. The way his neighbors joined to help him make his dreams come true taught him this valuable lesson.
Among these important lessons was also the value of money and determination. Leaning on his neighbors showed Luke how one small project could bring together an entire group of people.
He Was Invited To Speak At The Tiny Home Conference
The Tiny Home Conference in Iowa invited Luke to come speak! He also recorded his construction experience on YouTube because he hopes it will inspire other kids to work hard to achieve their dreams, whatever they might be.
When he first watched videos about tiny homes he could not find anyone younger than 14. He stated, “If no one is out there, I might as well do it so I started documenting the whole process and putting it on YouTube.”
He’s An Inspiration
Since Luke’s story went viral and many people have seen his YouTube videos documenting the experience, he has inspired tons of other kids to do the same.
Luke explained that a lot of kids have reached out to him showing pictures of their own tiny homes. He notes that some of these kids are even younger than him! He’s happy to see his project has influenced other kids to work hard as well.
What’s Next For Luke?
Luke won’t be starting on another tiny house just yet. Right now he’s happy with the one he has. He actually is going to be helping his brother build a teardrop trailer. After that he is on to even bigger and better things.
He said, “In a couple of years I want to build a bigger house and stay in it full-time”. We’re not sure if that house will fit in his parents’ backyard. But, Luke hasn’t stopped building yet!
Luke’s Trailer Project With His Brother
Now that Luke has some experience with building projects, he shares the wealth with his brother. The two teamed up to make a trailer that costs a steep $2,500, but Luke explains that it’s worth it!
Luke stated, “Both projects hold great meaning to me because they each have their own set of challenges and successes”. He and his brother Cole have taken the trailer on more than 50 camping trips across the country since they finished the build in 2018! So, they’re certainly getting their fair use out of the project.
Comparing The Projects
For Luke, the trailer project posed new challenges than his original tiny house project. He explained that he was surprised at how much more intricate this project was than his last.
“You really have to get things right”, he explained. “If you’re going 75 miles an hour down the highway, you don’t want anything to fall apart”. Naturally, the added element of making the trailer road-safe posed a new (but welcome) challenge for the kid.
The Benefit Of Gaining A Following
As Luke continued to share more about his projects on his social media accounts, he started to gain a hefty following. This likely helped when it came to gathering resources. For the first build he was on his own with the help of some neighbors.
Now, he had thousands of people tuned in and interested to see what he would do next. That made his reach much wider and he was likely able to garner a lot more support in subsequent projects.
Major Renovations To The Camper
In 2020, about 2 years after the brothers originally completed the trailer, Luke decided to do some major renovations to improve the project.
He replaced the original cabinets, stained the entire interior, and redid the camper’s trimming. These are no easy tasks, but Luke is motivated to make each project perfect.
Luke Has More Plans Outside Of Building
While Luke has a special place in his heart for his building projects, he surprisingly does not want to go to school for architecture or engineering. Rather, he “want[s] to work in a field that helps people”.
Luke even considered studying to become a paramedic! He appreciates all that his projects have taught him and will continue to do more projects, but building isn’t his only ambition!
Sharing His Projects Online
Luke has continued to share his project and progress on his Youtube channel. He gained a following there that is interested in keeping up with the changes he makes to his projects as well as what he will build next.
He also answers questions regarding his builds and aims to inspire other kids to build projects of their own! He now has over 70,000 subscribers who stay in the know on his tiny home and other projects.
He’s Already Inspired Others
In a Youtube video that Luke posted in April of 2020, he explained that his mother’s coworker’s son was inspired to make his own tiny house. Luke spent time on the phone with discussing plans and giving advice for the build.
This is one of many ways that Luke has inspired other people to do their own builds and take control of their own projects.
He Explores Other Tiny Homes
He also explores other tiny home builds on his YouTube channel to gain more inspiration and show people the opportunities that tiny houses provide. He shows how different people build their own homes and the interesting features they have.
In one such tour, he interviews a tiny home builder and his unique build which featured its own hot tub!
He’s All Grown Up!
Luke is no longer a thirteen year old kid, but is a young man now. He, his brother, and his friends have chronicled theri camping trips in the teardrop trailer. They’ve gone to many different places in Iowa and in other states!
They’ve taken the camper on lake trips, camping trips, and more! Friends and family alike can share in the fun of the camper. His parents have a motor home as well because, of course, not everyone can fit in the trailer.
What Will Luke Do Next?
Anyone who has heard about Luke’s unique story and has followed along with the projects he completed after the original tiny house is likely wondering what he will do next!
While he hasn’t posted any recent updates on his Youtube channel, we think he’ll return with inspiration and a plan for a new project. This won’t be the last of Luke Thill’s incredible building endeavors!