Austin Hay is a high school student in California. Over the last year or so, he’s spent his spare time acquiring materials and building a 130-square-foot house on wheels. He expects to finish in November, and then the 16-year-old will own his first home with zero debt.
Many of Austin’s materials were recycled and deeply discounted, found at scrapyards and donated by friends. Interior fixtures and finishes in particular cost him next to nothing. The framing looks like new dimensional lumber, so he didn’t skimp on the structural elements. In all, he estimates the project will cost $12,000… which makes his new house cheaper than a new car.
Austin credits his dad, who general-contracted their family’s big house a few years before the little house got going, with teaching him how to build. He says of the work, “My favorite part of my house is that it is mine and has my blood, sweat and hard work put into it.” You can read an inhabitat interview with him here.
I find Austin’s skill and dedication very impressive, but he’s not the only one: just look at 18-year-old Carson who spent his last summer vacation building Colin’s house and has similar plans this time around. You don’t need any special experience to build a house, just some guidance from a seasoned carpenter. And with dedication and a little ingenuity, you can do it with salvaged materials and save heaps of money.
Thanks to Eileen Turner!