Owning a home is easy once your mortgage or bank loan is approved. But building a home from scratch can be incredibly rewarding. It's why so many people love taking on those do-it-yourself projects. Now some folks might choose to build a tool shed, while others will build a home from the ground up. Fortunately, the internet offers several how-to-videos to help us figure out how to take on such a challenge. In fact, it's so easy that even a 13-year-old can do it.
Just ask Luke Thill, a 13-year-old teen from Dubuque, Iowa. Luke's at that awkward stage where he's got plenty of energy, but not a lot of things to do. So, one summer, he decided to overcome that boredom by building a house in his family's backyard. But as any builder will tell you, the end result will leave you speechless.
Building a house required lots of materials, which meant Luke needed cash, so he asked his parents, and they said yes! His dad, Greg, was excited for his son, who chose to do something other than sit on the couch and play video games all day. But he decided to let Luke do most of the work himself to teach him a valuable life lesson. However, Luke still needed more help.
Everyone in the neighborhood learned what Luke was up to, and that was a good thing. He needed their help to earn more money. So, he cut their lawns, raised cash online, and ran errands for people. In some cases, he offered to clean a family friend's garage in exchange for his help to install wiring in his new home. Luke managed to raise the money to buy his materials, but it took him longer than he expected to start building.
It took a whole year before he raised $1,500 and gathered enough material to start building. He also used recycled materials for 75% of his home. He even helped his neighbors, friends, and loved ones get rid of things they didn't want, like a family friend's front door. He also found some stuff that was usual in his grandmother's garage. Now he was ready to build, and he wanted everyone to watch.
Before long, everyone around town had learned what Luke was up to. Since people kept asking him, the teenager decided to keep them updated by creating a YouTube Channel. That way, people he knew, and even those he didn't would be able to monitor his progress. But his dedication to the project also attracted the attention of the media, which he learned when he got called to the office.
Luke explained in his videos that he's rarely been to the principal's office because he's always been a good kid. But he wasn't in trouble. The principal, who was BFF with the reporter that interviewed Luke, was brought up to speed on the teen's project. But while Luke was humbled by the attention, he had a project to finish and obstacles to overcome.
Luke has had a few setbacks, like when he tried using stained glass and liquid glaze to create his own countertop. It seemed like a good idea at the time. He did all of his research and studied the process on YouTube videos. But when he put what he learned into practice, the glaze leaked through the mold. But while most teens would have just given up, Luke didn't, and his dedication opened the door to an unexpected surprise.
A TinyFest Midwest rep reached out to Luke and invited him to attend a festival that celebrated small living and tiny homes. TinyFest also asked the teen to prepare a speech that talked about all the trials and tribulations of building a tiny home. Fortunately, Luke had just earned a merit badge for public speaking, so he wasn't nervous at all. Besides, the house was nearing completion, which had everything he needed except for one thing.
Construction on Luke's home was finished, and it had just about everything he'd need to eat, sleep, and relax. But there was one the house was missing; a toilet! Unfortunately, adding plumbing to his home was more than he could handle. But that was okay because the house was still awesome. So, once the house was all set up, Luke did a video tour and shared it on YouTube.
It took a year to finish, but Luke now had his very own 89-square-foot house. And you know that they say about a man's home... it's also his castle. But this place had plenty of wow factor like a living room with a couch and TV, a kitchen with an electric griddle, and a lofted bed. It was so cool that his parents let him sleep there a couple of nights a week, and does his homework there too. But his fame was far from over.
Luke's story made the front page of the Des Moines Register and the Telegraph Herald, two major newspapers in Iowa. Eventually, local TV stations and media outlets across the country started sharing his story. Even Good Morning America was interested, so they went to Luke's tiny house to get a tour and interview him. The teenager' mind was blown by all the fame he had gotten, but he was stunned when he was contacted by one designer.
Derek Diedricksen, an author that talks about designing and building tiny homes, reached out to Luke. This excited the teen because Diedricksen was his main inspiration when he took on this project. Being able to speak to him and getting messages of encouragement from him meant a lot to Luke. Eventually, the two became online buddies. But like Diedriksen, Luke became a role model for someone else.
Luke shared that his brother Cole had decided to come up with his own DIY project to build a teardrop camper. Cole would follow the same footsteps as his brother by using recycled and reclaimed materials. Like Luke, he was also on a budget and would share his progress on YouTube. But he had one thing that Luke didn't have, a brother with the knowledge and experience to guide him through the project.
With over 9,000 YouTube Subscribers, Luke and Cole's YouTube channel is growing by leaps and bounds. But the channel does more than focus on their building projects. Luke is also branching out and showcasing other people's DIY projects too. Some of those projects include his mom's renovation project of a 1972 camper and a sheep herder's wagon. In less than no time, Luke has become a building sensation.
Luke had no idea that he'd become so famous when he first came up with the idea of building a tiny house. Originally, he just thought of making a shed-like home, but as his ambition grew, so did the project. For now, he's focusing on school because he wants to go to college. But he also wants to inspire other kids, so that they can discover their true building potential regardless of their age.