Luke Thill acquired a home at the age of 13.
The middle schooler in Dubuque, Iowa, had finished constructing an 89-square-foot tiny house in the backyard of his parents’ house. Starting at the age of 11, he worked on the project for a year and a half with a budget of $1,500 that he had earned by performing neighborhood chores.
Luke’s trip had just begun, and that was just the beginning.
Luke Thill, now 17 years old, has built a teardrop camper with his brother Cole, adding to their growing collection of tiny homes. Luke told Insider that he intends to make tiny living a way of life.
Building the little dwelling was “a huge experience,” Luke told Insider. It unquestionably altered my life.
For Luke, the 2016 summer was going to be a dull one. When the 11-year-old was looking for projects to work on because he had no plans for the near future, he stumbled upon the small home movement on YouTube.
He decided to construct his own modest cottage after being persuaded.
Luke and his father calculated how much he would need to build a straightforward little house before they started, and they came up with $1,500.
Like many young people, Luke began saving by taking on odd jobs around his neighborhood.
It all began with the straightforward notion that Luke would spend one summer earning money by mowing lawns and performing small tasks for his grandparents and neighbors.
He started constructing his future little house not long after that.
Luke claimed to have expertise with little home improvement tasks, but this was by far his biggest undertaking to date.
Most of the building materials used for the house, according to Luke, were recovered, and windows and doors, in particular, were donated by friends, neighbors, and family members in order to keep expenses down.
With some assistance from his parents, Luke took approximately a year and a half to finish the build. His mother helped with the interior design while his father helped with the construction. By the time Luke turned 13 in the fall of 2017, he had his own little house.
Luke claimed he never intended to live in the little house permanently, which allowed him to forego installing plumbing, which would have been costly, time-consuming, and difficult to do.
The house was intended to serve as a getaway and a gathering spot for friends.
The plain design of the house illustrates this. It contains a living room space with a drop-down dining table, a tiny kitchen with a micro fridge, an electric burner, and a countertop. Additionally, there is a ladder that ascends to a lofted area where Luke spends some nights sleeping and hosts guests for movie evenings.
Luke even hosted his family’s Thanksgiving dinner one year.
Luke was ready to begin a new project after finishing the tiny house.
Cole, his twin brother, had begun constructing a teardrop camper from the ground up as part of his own project at the time.
Luke stepped in to assist the project about halfway through. By the time they were both 14, the brothers had spent about $2,500 on the 36-square-foot teardrop camper, according to Luke.
Luke claimed that compared to creating a tiny house, this endeavor was surprisingly more difficult and detailed.
Luke responded, “You really have to get things right. “You don’t want anything to fall apart if you’re driving down the highway at 75 mph.”
Luke and his brother have had the chance to reunite thanks to the camper. Luke claimed the pair have gone on more than 50 camping trips around Iowa and neighboring states since finishing the construction in 2018.
Luke made significant changes to the teardrop camper in 2020. He redone the camper’s woodwork, installed new cabinets, and stained the interior.
Luke’s major takeaway was the importance of a sense of community.
Luke claimed that his early experience building a little house gave him a number of valuable life lessons, such as the importance of hard work and financial responsibility.
But Luke claimed that one of the most important lessons he discovered was the value of belonging to a group. Luke claimed that he relied on his neighbors for support while he was building. He would, for instance, swap items with a neighbor or exchange electrical assistance for cleaning the garage.
“A straightforward project in my backyard brought the neighborhood and community together,” he remarked.
Luke stated that he is prepared for the upcoming endeavor now that the camper is finished. He claimed that as a junior in high school, he also prioritizes hanging out with friends, working, and completing his assignments.
While he’s now concentrating on high school, Luke said compact living would continue to play a significant role in his future. Even creating a bigger little house to live in when he goes to college has crossed his mind.