A True Inspiration: A 13-Year-Old Boy Raises $1,500 and Builds His Own Tiny Home
Most 13-year-olds want nothing more than to hang out with their friends and buy the next hot toy. Luke Thill definitely stands out from the crowd. This motivated young boy decided he wanted to build himself a tiny house in the backyard of his parents’ home.
He raised the money for the project himself and got neighbors, friends, and family involved to create his very own home. Not bad for a middle school boy! Check out this heartwarming story about Luke Thill and his tiny home.
Who is Luke Thill
Luke Thill is an ambitious middle school student from Iowa who decided he was going to do something different. Some kids ask their parents to build them a treehouse. Luke decided he would build a tiny house of his own.
He explained that he was inspired by watching YouTube videos about tiny houses and the more he watched the more he was fascinated. He said, “I got obsessed with them and decided to build my own”.
His Parents Support the Endeavor
Greg and Angie Thill saw that their son was on a mission. Though he was only 13, they knew he was motivated enough to actually deliver on this project. They decided to give him permission to build the tiny home on their property.
With his parents’ sign off, Luke was thrilled to create his tiny home in his parents backyard. His parents decided to set up some ground rules for this project of his.
Luke could build his tiny home on their property on one condition. He had to raise the money for the project himself. Houses are not cheap to build! And Greg and Angie were not about to foot the bill.
Greg told his son, “If you’re that serious we have to set some ground rules”. They told Luke that he would have to bear the financial responsibility of the project and find a way to raise the money he needed for it. Luke was not deterred!
He Raised $1,500
Luke was determined to make the money he needed for his construction project so he mowed lawns around the neighborhood like so many other kids do to make money. He also traded some of his own personal items with the help of his sister and twin brother.
Finally, as a last effort to meet his budget goal, he organized a small fundraiser. He did some landscape work and basically helped out wherever he could to scrape together the money.
He Showed Great Restraint
Most middle school kids would spend their money the second they get their hands on it. Kids at age 13 don’t typically have all that much restraint. And when they do spend their money, it’s usually on the next big toy.
Luke showed such control in saving up the money. He stated, “I put all that money into a savings account so it was harder to get at and spend”. How many 13-year-olds do you know that could show that kind of restraint?
Luke started construction on his home in June of 2016. Obviously, the kid needed some help to put the house together. His dad helped with much of the construction and his mom added input on the interior furnishings.
His siblings helped teach Luke how to trade some of his own items with friends and family in exchange for reclaimed materials or time. Everyone got involved! In one instance, Luke cleaned a neighbor’s garage who happened to be an electrician. The electrician showed Luke how to wire the house.
It Was No Easy Feat
Even though Luke had an impressive work ethic, he explained that the project was no easy feat. Even with the assistance of his family, friends, and neighbors, he stated that “the process was not short or easy”.
The project took about a year and a half to complete. For a young boy that is basically a lifetime, yet Luke remained consistent and had unwavering determination which helped the project succeed!
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 (source: maison & travaux)
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!