13-year-old boy builds himself a home for $1,500

When we were 13-years-old, there were few things we actually cared about. Yep, we were the stereotypical teenager with the stereotypical life. We’d (unwillingly) get out of bed in the morning – okay, our moms would actually pull us out of bed – we would chomp down some of our favorite chocolate-covered cereal (because breakfast is the most important meal of the day, y’all), we’d go to school, pretend to be interested in algebra, and countdown down the minutes until we could play football with our friends at recess and make sure our Tamagotchi hadn’t died in the process.

Yuh-huh, we had a pretty tough time of it, and it was made even more testing when we had the lives of the Simpson family in our hands when we got home – because they needed to Hit & Run their way around Springfield and made it back home safely, after all (anyone else obsessed with that game?) To finish off our day and replenish our stocks, we just HAD to eat a full plate of Turkey Twizzlers and Potato Smiley Faces. It was a tough life, but someone had to do it.

However, it’s fair to say our childhood was pretty different to this 13-year old. In today’s day and age, it’s almost impossible for anyone under the age of 30 to get onto the housing ladder. Instead, it’s a few decades of renting, and making epic Pinterest boards about how you’d decorate your dream home if you ever won the lottery or magically got a promotion that paid 10x what you’re earning at the moment. Nevertheless, it is a good feeling to be able to plan your future and secure yourself a home. You know you’ll have somewhere of your own to rest your head in the evening, you know you’ll have somewhere to raise your kids, and you know you’ll have somewhere you can invest in. Of course, this is all a load of poppycock for the average Millennial – because we buy waaaaaay too many sandwiches and avocados to be able to afford a house! Pffft.


But there’s one boy who is smashing the stereotype of the average youngster. Instead of saving up for a few decades to afford his dream house, this 13-year-old decided to take matters into his own hands (quite literally) and build his own house. Yep, this story will put all of you potential home owners to shame, because this is the kid who built his own home for just $1,500…

A DIY project

For most people, getting onto the housing ladder starts with a mortgage consultation, and moving into your new home. However, there are some people who want something of their own. Instead of moving into an old house that has had previous occupants (ew, cooties), these people get their hands dirty and start their DIY project: operation-build-a-house. Building a house from scratch isn’t easy, but if you’ve got the right frame of mind (and the right building frames), even a 13-year-old teenager can do it!

Getting the cash together

The teenager in question is Luke Thill, from Dubuque in Iowa. This 13-year-old teen was feeling pretty underwhelmed with his video games and TV series that he decided to build his own house. Unfortunately, his $10-a-week allowance just didn’t cover the tools and materials needed to build his dream home. So, he needed to get some cash together and asked his parents for a little help. Although they offered him some of the cash, they didn’t offer Luke a helping hand – he needed to do this for himself.

Helping out the neighborhood

Before too long, the news of Luke’s project became common knowledge in the neighborhood, and Luke knew he could use this to advantage. To raise the rest of the money to start his project, Luke offered his grass-cutting, car washing, cleaning and errand running skills to those who lived in the neighborhood in exchange for money. He also used his business savvy mind to offer an exchange. He offered cleaning services in exchange for their expertise during the building project – a kind of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ kinda deal. Smart.

Ecologically friendly

Although it took him a year to raise the $1,500 target needed to build his dream home, Luke had finally filled up his piggy bank. This meant he could start gathering the materials he would need – but Luke had a few specifications. He wanted to make his house ecologically friendly and tried to use recycled materials whenever possible. In fact, 75% of his building materials were recycled, and he even asked his neighbors to donate any unwanted building supplies. One neighbor kindly donated him a front door!

Making a name for himself

After trawling the neighborhood, working for money and asking for favors, it’s no surprise that people began to wonder what Luke was up to. After hearing his plan, many neighbors, friends and family members were intrigued to see his project get underway. In fact, he had soon made such a name for himself he was in high-demand. To make sure his fans were kept up to date with his home renovations, Luke decided to set up his own YouTube channel and film his progress.

Was he in trouble?

Although his fame was skyrocketing in the community, Luke was still taken aback when he was called into the Principal’s office one day at school. Luke was never normally the kind of kid to get into trouble, but his mind wandered, and he began to think of all of the things he could be in trouble for. Thankfully, Luke was not in trouble. Instead, the Principal was simply interested in how Luke’s build was going and wanted to be kept up to date on his developments. Luke was touched by the public’s response, but he had a project to finish…

A few setbacks

Considering Luke had never undertaken such a large DIY project, he soon realized that he had a knack for building and designing. However, he did have a few setbacks during his project. One of the most major issues came about when he tried to create his own kitchen workout with stained glass and a liquid glaze. He spent weeks studying the correct way to create a specific effect and how long to leave it to set – but it all went to pot when the glaze started pouring out of the mold. Many people would have given up at this point, but Luke decided to try and try again until he had perfected it.

Tiny Fest Midwest

As he continued on his path to success, more and more people from across the country were learning about this 13-years-olds incredibly achievements. In fact, the news soon reached Tiny Fest Midwest who were interested in having Luke as a spokesperson for their festival. They asked the teen to prepare his own speech, in which he spoke about the ups and downs of creating his own tiny house, and the dedication that goes into it. Luckily, Luke was up for the challenge and wowed his fans with his confident demeanor and his house.

Something missing

After hours of painstakingly planning and constructing his house, Luke had finally finished the outer shell of his tiny little home. With just $1,500 in his pocket, he had managed to create a perfectly formed house that he could eat in, sleep in, and chill out in. However, there was something missing. Unfortunately, Luke did not have any plumbing or toilet facilities in the house because it was too difficult to do himself, so he still needed to go back into his parents’ house when he needed to use the bathroom. It’s still pretty impressive, though!

A man’s home is his castle

After a year of hard work, Luke had completed his goal and created his very own house. With 89-square-foot to his name, Luke had built his own piece of property for next to nothing – something some adults only dream of. The house was decked out in everything Luke could possibly need. He had his very own living room with a comfy couch, he had a small kitchen where he could cook his meals on an electric griddle, and he even had a loft bed he could sleep on whenever he felt like it. In fact, he slept there a few nights a week.

Making headlines

However, Luke’s project didn’t finish when he had stopped building. As his fans saw what he had made, they couldn’t believe it and shared his story on social media. Before too long, the 13-year-old and his house had made the front page headlines in the Telegraph Herald and the Des Moines Register in Iowa. Thanks to this newfound publicity, he became national news and was evening interviewed by Good Morning America. Luke couldn’t believe the reaction he was getting, but he had no idea the best was about to come…

Derek Diedricksen

From a young age, Luke had always been interested in design and architecture and had been inspired to make his tiny house thanks to the work of his favorite designer and author, Derek Diedricksen. After hearing his story on the news, Derek decided to get into contact with Luke and the pair spoke about design and construction, and connected on a professional level. Luke was over the moon to be able to speak to his hero and role model, without realizing that he had become a role model himself.

All in the family

After watching Luke rise to fame and build an impressive structure, his brother Cole had been inspired to make his own creation. Cole wanted to be just like his older brother, but wanted to make something a little different – so decided to build a teardrop camper, made from recycled materials. Like Luke, Cole also raised money through the community and shared his development on Luke’s YouTube channel. He also had a helping hand from the 13-year-old boy who started it all in the first place.

A media sensation

Since the creation of Luke and Cole’s building projects, their YouTube channel has earned a wealth of followers. In fact, they have around 9,000 subscribers! Thanks to their newfound fame, the brothers are now media sensations and have been able to branch out. As well as documenting their own projects, their page now showcases other budding designers and their creations. In fact, they have used the channel to showcase their mom’s renovation projects on their 1972 campervan. How cool is that?!

A real role model

At the start of his project, Luke was just a bored teenager with a dream to do something different. After a couple of years of hard graft, he has since created his very own home for just $1,500 and inspired others to do the same. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s since become a media sensation and become a real role model for teenagers and those wanting to enter into the world of construction. Although she is still focused on his YouTube channel, Luke now focuses most of his attention on school and getting the grades he needs to go to college. Go, Luke!