13-Year-Old Boy Builds His Own Tiny House With a Tiny Budget

Most kids love the long breaks from school, but also, they get bored, they can sleep late, stay up late, game to their heart’s content but at some point, the boredom does kick in.

For one such kid called Luke Thill, the boredom reared its ugly head when on school vacation when he was 12 years old. Just like all kids he searched the internet for something different to do and during this search he came across something that got his attention.

He decided to take on a project that even some adults would be nervous of and he has quite frankly achieved something beyond most people’s dreams of accomplishment and did so by the time he turned 13.

The Beginning

When Luke sets his mind to something, he goes all out to get it done, he combined his cure for boredom with building his own ‘tiny house’. He spent time scrolling through YouTube and discovered the DIY section.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

The tiny-house, or small-house movement, goes against the traditional American dream. Where people typically want a picket fence and 2.5 children, the tiny house allows people to live simply and requires less space.

Making Green

Luke needed money to follow his dreams and there wasn’t any job he wouldn’t take on to save the money he needed to make his dream come true. He mowed lawns, cleared garages and once word got around the neighborhood that Luke was for hire the jobs came rolling in.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

Another Man’s Treasure

As Luke was cleaning garages, he sorted what he could use for his tiny house so kept in with the ethos of the tiny house movement of recycling/upcycling anything he found in the garages and the owners were more than happy to let him take their unwanted items. Luke was even able to get his front door from a family friend!

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Neighborly Assistance

There were some elements of Luke’s tiny house he knew he wouldn’t be able to do such as the electrics, so he made a deal with a local electrician that he would do chores for him in return for the electrician wiring his home, the deal was struck and both parties got what they needed from each other, awesome bargaining skills there Luke.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Full Circle

Overtime Luke came full circle as he started posting updates on the same site, he got his idea from, and interest in what he was doing began to grow, with many questions being asked. He took a lot of time answering questions so Luke decided to make videos as he progressed and it didn’t take long before Luke had a ton of followers.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

The Principal’s Friend

One day when Luke was a school, he had a surprise visitor who was a local reporter and a friend of the school’s principle. The reporter interviewed with Luke and the interest grew beyond even Luke’s wildest dreams.

Credit: @TinyfestEvents/Facebook

Building Up

Once Luke had raised enough money to start his project, he purchased his materials and began to build his tiny house, Luke had managed to save a staggering $1,500 from doing chores in his neighborhood which is an incredible feat for an eighth-grader!

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Luke knew he would have problems ahead with his build but he took that all in his stride and was confident he would beat the issues.

Countertop Conundrum

As we often find doing a DIY project is not as easy as we first thought, not every project turns out the way we hope and this was no different for Luke. Luke wanted to DIY a lacquer countertop with some reclaimed stained glass. It would be a beautiful addition to his house and a real bargain, but it didn’t turn out exactly as he had hoped.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

His mold leaked, which ruined the countertop, this hurdle was one that Luke would still be able to overcome. He was more resilient than that! He could still use it as you will see.

TinyFest Midwest

After the interview he had with the local reporter his story spread across the US like wildfire. His story was picked up by both local and national news channels

Renee McLaughlin, the organizer of TinyFest Midwest, quickly got in touch with Luke. They TinyFest is said to be a festival where you can “see how people are transforming their lives by living tiny!”

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

McLaughlin asked Luke to give a speech at the festival, which he did and it was a success.

The Last Hurdle

There was just one last thing he had to overcome for his tiny house and that was indoor plumbing, but for this project, it was not mean to be, he still uses his family home for this, indoor plumbing will be must for his next tiny home.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Ready, Set, Go!

The summer project soon became a winter project and Luke wanted to test his tiny house out, in winter. It was freezing outside and snowing but the resilient young man had his first-ever night in his new home, he said it was very comfortable and so warm due to the good insulation he had used that he has to open the window as he was too hot.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Tiny House Tour

The day Luke’s tiny house was finished he uploaded a viral tiny house tour video and of all the videos he has posted to date this one has the most views. His followers have continued to grow and he not only has support for his vision from family, friends, and neighbors but from people all over the world that follow him.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

A House of His Own

Luke’s home is just as it says tiny but don’t let that mislead you this home has its own kitchen, bedroom and lounge area. It has a drop-down table for eating, pretty amazing don’t you think.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Full of Surprises

Luke’s tiny house is 89 square feet house. As there is no plumbing in this tiny house Luke keeps bottled water in the small fridge and he also has an electric stove along with outlets, pretty cool.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

The kitchen walls are tiled with linoleum and there are storage areas under the countertop, the same countertop that wasn’t wasted as it holds the silverware.

Teenage Dream

The living room has a couch and a TV just like you would expect to see in any home.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

It’s not Luke’s full-time home he is only allowed to sleep in it a few times a week, he is after all still only 13 and has rules to live by from his parents.

Front Page News

Luke ended up on the front page of the Des Moines Register and the Telegraph Herald. Everyone was talking about how he built his tiny house at such a young age.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

Luke even got to be on ABC’s Good Morning America, and people come from all over the nation to tour his little house.

Breaking Stereotypes

Luke isn’t your stereotypical teenager. He found something he wanted to do and he went all out to achieve his dream, he had some help, but overall, he did the work himself.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

He once stated, “I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.” What 13-year-old living with his parents is concerned about mortgage? It’s almost like he has an older soul living inside him. Pretty thoughtful for a young kid.

Problem Solving

No A/C was an issue in the hot weather, not to be beaten Luke purchased some furnace filters and misted them with water and put a fan behind the filters problem solved!

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube


Luke designed some merchandise and released the T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other merchandise. The earnings will hopefully fund his upcoming projects within his tiny house ethos.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube


Luke says he can clean his entire tiny house in around 15 minutes, which if you think about it that usually is about as long as it takes to clean your bathroom in your home, sounds pretty good to me, less time cleaning more time to enjoy life.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Supper Time!

Luke invites his family over for dinner and he serves up what he calls ‘camper stew’ and they have added burritos to create comer stew burritos which go down well, and he has game nights. To avoid unwanted smells from cooking in his tiny home he sets up the stove hot plate next to the window and uses a fan, a tiny house version of an extractor fan.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube


Luke inspired his older brother to start a project of his own, just as Luke did, Cole raised his own funds, but instead of building a tiny house he prefers to be more mobile he renovated a teardrop camper.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Lessons Learned

Luke is very with his first tiny house but admits there are some things he would have done differently and that they are lessons he is taking with him for future projects, an example being the countertop that didn’t work out the way he had hoped and having a smaller light in the bedroom area.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

DIY Family

Angie Thill was inspired by both her sons undertaking their own projects that she decided to have a project of her own, she purchased a 1972 Forester Kayot camper to remodel.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

What’s Next?

Luke’s next tiny house will most definitely be built with indoor plumbing so I can bet Luke is on the lookout for a plumber he can bargain chores with for when that time arrives. Luke plans to start house number two when he turns 15. He wants to collaborate with his fans and with businesses and companies to help him with his planning and funding. He also has plans to sell house number one, in case you’re in the market!

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Movers, Shakers, and Newsmakers

Luke was recognized for his achievements when he was selected as #10 of 2017’s most fascinating people in the annual “Movers, Shakers, and Newsmakers” event held in Dubuque, Iowa. It’s hard not to be recognized when you achieve as much as he has!

Credit: @lukethill/Instagram

A Gentleman and a Scholar

Luke has received lots of advice from his fans but also compliments. One compliment came from Kate R., who gushed that Luke was “superb husband material,” which will be great to put on his college resume when the time comes. But seeing how he’s so bright and knowledgeable with social media and business, he might not need to go to college after all.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Negative Comments

There will always be some trolls on the internet who live to put someone down for what they achieve and this was no different in Luke’s case, sour grapes and jealousy comes to mind.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Business Plan

If you just take a moment to think back to all that Luke has achieved with a budget of £1,500 it’s amazing, so who knows this could develop into a business for Luke.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

An Inspiration to Others

Luke has a big following and it isn’t hard to see why when he inspires so many and a vast range of ages.

Credit: Luke Thill /YouTube

Tiny Houses Growing

The Tiny House Movement has swept across the globe. It’s nothing new, but it’s still growing in popularity.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

Tiny House Roots

The Not So Big House book, written by Sarah Susanka, has pushed forward the idea of tiny houses. Susanka released the book in 1997 and hoped to encourage others to “build better, not bigger.” Her concept is extremely minimalist.

Credit: @SarahSusanka/Facebook

Walden by Henry David Thoreau, written in 1854, is one of the oldest inspirations credited by the movement.

Katrina Cottages

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Marianne Cusato designed small residential shelters, known as “Katrina Cottages”. The houses were 308 square feet and proved that we don’t have to have a huge house to get by. Though designs may vary, the main aesthetic criterion is that Katrina Cottages resemble traditional homes, scaled-down in size to reduce costs and ease construction so that multiple units can be built quickly as needed.

Credit: Evita Ochel/Pixaby

Small and functional

Keep it minimal and simple is the ethos, only have what you need and that is how it works, to be fair tiny living isn’t for everyone but the movement is growing with veterans now being given tiny homes to live in and in some states, it has aided to almost remove the homeless situation.

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook

Good Times

Luke learned so much during his tiny house project and he has talked about this in this YouTube video, titled “The Best Year of My Life.”

Credit: @LukeThill23/Facebook