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Teen Builds His Own Tiny Home and Teardrop Trailer

teardrop trailer being towed

Teen Builds His Own Tiny Home and Teardrop Trailer

What do kids do when they get really bored during the summer? Build a tiny home, of course!

Or at least that’s what teen Luke Thill did. And he didn’t stop after that project was complete. Now 17-years-old, this Iowa native owns two tiny spaces–a tiny home he built with his dad’s help and a custom teardrop trailer built alongside his twin brother.

His tiny home build

While most 13-year-olds are all about playing games and surviving middle school, Luke Thill was putting the finishing touches on his first home. After one and a half years, the middle schooler had completed construction on an 89-square foot tiny home.

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At 11-years old, Luke became fascinated with tiny homes, watching one YouTube video after the next on them. After talking it over with his parents, it was decided that Luke could build a tiny house of his own in the backyard of his parent’s home. There was one major caveat, however. He would be assisted in the build, but he had to fund the project himself. He spent the summer doing odd jobs and earned $1500.

“It started with the simple idea that I spend one summer mowing lawns and doing little projects for neighbors and grandparents to make money,” Luke said. “I knew that it was possible, and I put my heart and soul into budgeting money, planning, and executing my ideas.” 

Luke was able to stay within the $1500 budget for several reasons:

  • His father guided him through the drafting and construction work, and his mom stepped in to assist with the interior design.
  • Many of the materials and parts (like the door and windows) were donated by friends, neighbors, and family members.
  • Instead of hiring and paying professionals, he bartered his services for help. For instance, he cleaned a neighbor’s garage for his electrical expertise.
  • Since Luke never intended to live in the tiny home full-time, he skipped installing costly systems like plumbing, A/C, and heating.

“The tiny house was always meant to be a space to have friends over and to entertain people,” he said. “I have had many friends over, and we watch movies, cook food, hangout, or play games.”

Luke’s tiny home has a kitchenette with a mini-fridge, electric stove, and countertop. The living room area has a bench with a drop-down table. A ladder leads to a bedroom loft.

Big thoughts about his tiny home

Reflecting on the completion of the tiny abode, Luke said, “Seeing everything come together was very satisfying. There were some very challenging times throughout the build, but I never wanted to quit.”

He mentioned that he took away many lessons from this tiny build. He learned the value of money, determination, and the importance of community.

“A simple project in my backyard brought the community and neighborhood together,” he said.

Luke Thill, then 13-years-old, gives a tour of his tiny home in the video below.

Teardrop trailer build

Shortly after completing his tiny home, Luke jumped on board with a second project, helping his twin brother Cole with his custom teardrop trailer build. Renovation of the 36-square-foot teardrop cost about $2,500.

It includes an L-shaped bench that converts into a bed and is able to fit 2 campers comfortably. An outside pull-out galley and manual awning are also part of the setup.  

Luke mentioned that the camper build was a more intricate process than the tiny home.

“You really have to get things right,” Luke said. “If you’re going 75 miles an hour down the highway, you don’t want anything to fall apart.”

The twins completed the build in 2018 when they were 14-years-old. They took the camper on at least 50 trips across Iowa and nearby states before finishing additional renovations like replacing cabinets, staining the interior, and redoing the trim.

Luke and his brother Cole give a tour of their nifty teardrop trailer in the video below. You can watch a series of videos detailing the teardrop creation on Luke’s YouTube channel.

Reflecting on the tiny home and teardrop trailer builds

“Both projects hold great meaning to me because they each had their own set of challenges and successes.” He admitted, “The tiny house will always be my favorite.” 

Luke is currently a junior in high school, and while his focus is on his studies, Luke said this is not the end of his tiny journey.

“Tiny homes and the tiny home community will always be in my life. I have gained so much knowledge and skills from the countless things I have experienced.”

Join a community devoted to all things RVing

If you are in the process of renovating your RV, what better way to learn and grow through the process than through the virtual community of RV enthusiasts at iRV2 forums.  There are many conversations about custom RV projects posted.

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