Luke Thill built a small house in his parent’s backyard at 13 years of age. The middle school student raised $1,500 by mowing lawns and helping neighbors build an 89-square-foot tiny house in the backyard of his family’s home in Dubuque, Iowa. 

What led him to pursue this project, and where did it lead him? Read on to find out.

Falling through a YouTube wormhole

Luke was browsing YouTube when he came across a video about a tiny house. He went into a YouTube spiral and watched virtually every video about building tiny houses. After getting obsessed with them, he decided to make his own. 

Getting a go-ahead from the parents

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Luke’s parents, Greg and Angie Thill, saw the passion in their son’s eyes and gave him the green light to build a tiny home on their four-acre property. But this wasn’t without any ground rules. Luke was entrusted with the financial responsibility of building the house, raising funds, and choosing the materials. 

Starting construction

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Construction on the house began in June 2016. Luke’s dad helped build the house’s structure, his mom helped in furnishing the interiors, and he also got some help from his sister and twin brother. 

He didn’t just purchase all his materials; Luke bartered his services with friends and family who contributed reclaimed materials and offered their skills. Luke cleaned his neighbor’s garage, and the neighbor, an electrician, taught him how to wire the house. Another guy from Luke’s Cub Scout days guided him on installing a carpet in exchange for mowing his apartment buildings.

Creating a cool crib

Aside from the impressiveness of the house, the interiors are also pretty neat. The home features a TV, seating area, mini refrigerator, and a fold-up dining table. Luke’s friends also find his house incredible and often hang out there. 

Persevering against the odds

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For a kid his age, Luke is very driven. His dad recalls times when the project got stalled because he needed more funds for the next phase. He wouldn’t give up and kept working.

After completing the construction, Luke was invited to speak at a tiny home conference in Iowa. He even documented his construction journey on YouTube, hoping to inspire other kids not to let their age stop them from pursuing their dreams. 

Being an inspiration

When Luke first watched the tiny home construction videos, he couldn’t find anyone younger than 14 to guide him. So, he took it upon himself to be that person and started documenting the whole process and putting it on YouTube. His work has inspired many kids younger than him to build their own tiny houses. 

What’s next?

Luke’s next project is to help his brother, Cole, build a teardrop trailer. After that, he plans to build another house. In the future, he aspires to make a bigger house and live in it full-time. 

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