Luke Thill bought a house when he was 13 years old.
In the backyard of his parent’s home in Dubuque, Iowa, the middle school student had completed building an 89-square-foot tiny house. He began working on the project when he was 11 years old and finished it a year and a half later with a budget of $1,500 that he had acquired via doing household tasks.
Luke’s journey had only just begun, and that was just the start.
The now-17-year-old Luke Thill and his brother Cole have added a teardrop camper to their expanding collection of tiny houses. Luke stated to Insider that he wants to adopt a tiny-living lifestyle.
According to Luke, building the little home was “a huge experience.” That without a doubt changed how I lived.
Luke expected his summer of 2016 to be uninteresting. The 11-year-old came upon the small home movement on YouTube while searching for tasks to complete because he didn’t have any immediate plans.
He was convinced and decided to build his own little cottage.
When they started, Luke and his father evaluated how much it would cost to build a simple modest house and came up with $1,500.
Luke started saving as many young people do by taking on odd jobs in his community.
Everything started off as a simple plan for Luke to work one summer mowing lawns and doing odd jobs for his grandparents and neighbors to earn money.
Soon after that, he began building his future tiny house.
Although Luke claimed to be skilled at few home improvement projects, this was by far his largest project to date.
According to Luke, the majority of the building supplies used to construct the home were salvaged, and in order to reduce costs, windows, and doors in particular were donated by friends,
Luke took around a year and a half to complete the project, with help from his parents. As his father assisted with the building, his mother assisted with interior design. In the fall of 2017, Luke turned 13 and already had a little home.
Luke was able to avoid installing plumbing, which would have been expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to do, by claiming he never meant to reside in the small house permanently.
The house was meant to be a retreat and a meeting place for friends.
This is demonstrated by the house’s simple architecture. It has a small kitchen with a countertop, a microwave, and a drop-down dining table as well as a living room area. In addition, a ladder leads up to a lofted space where Luke occasionally sleeps and hosts visitors for movie nights.
One Thanksgiving, Luke even hosted his family’s meal.
Luke had finished the tiny house and was eager to start something new.
Cole, his twin brother, was working on his own project at the time, building a teardrop camper from the ground up.
Around halfway through the endeavor, Luke joined to help. According to Luke, the brothers bought the 36-square-foot teardrop camper when they were both 14 years old for roughly $2,500
Luke remarked that this project was surprisingly harder and more complex than building a little cottage.
You really need to get things perfect, Luke said, “If you’re going down the highway at 75 mph, you don’t want anything to come apart.”
The camper gave Luke and his brother the opportunity to get back together. Since finishing the construction in 2018, Luke stated the couple has taken more than 50 camping trips throughout Iowa and its adjacent states.
In 2020, Luke made considerable adjustments to the teardrop camper. He refinished the internal woodwork, put in new cabinets, and replaced the woodwork on the camper.
Luke learned the value of a strong feeling of community.
Luke asserted that his early experience building a little house taught him many important life lessons, including the value of perseverance and fiscal responsibility.
But Luke insisted that one of the most crucial lessons he learned was the value of group affiliation. According to Luke, he needed assistance from his neighbors while he was building. For instance, he would trade goods with a neighbor or offer electrical help in exchange for garage cleaning.
He said, “A little project in my backyard brought the community and neighborhood together.”
Now that the camper is built, Luke said he is ready for the following endeavor. As a junior in high school, he asserted that he also values working, spending time with friends, and finishing his tasks.
Luke remarked that although he is currently focusing on high school, small-space living would continue to be important to him in the future. When he goes to college, he may even consider building a larger version of his current residence.