Tiny Tuesday: You Gotta Start Somewhere

Real estate agents often describe a small house as a “starter home” – implying, in the truest American tradition, that the owners will get a bigger one as soon as they can afford. Some people do trade up to accommodate kids or absorb a higher income. Others find that small suits their needs, and stay in the “starter home” for most of their adult lives.

And then there’s Luke Thill from Iowa, who built his own starter home but will probably never move into it. Luke lives with his parents and plans to keep that arrangement for a while longer. He’s 13.


Luke Thill and his “starter home.”

According to this Des Moines Register article, Luke bankrolled the whole project himself. He reclaimed 75% of his materials, spent $1500 he earned from lawnmowing and online fundraising, and bartered labor – for example, he cleaned a neighbor’s garage in exchange for the neighbor, an electrician, to help him wire the house.

The 89-square-foot groundbound house has a shed roof and a front deck. Inside is a kitchen with hot plate and refrigerator, a living room with couch and TV, and a sleeping loft. There’s no plumbing, which means the house cannot be a legal dwelling. Nevertheless, Luke uses the structure for homework and entertaining friends, and he sleeps there a couple nights a week. He plans to eventually sell it and use the proceeds to build a larger house on a trailer that he can bring to college. A starter home, indeed.

“Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical. You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead.”
Luke Thill

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