- Associated Press - Saturday, May 13, 2017

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - At 13 years old, Luke Thill already has his own home away from home.

It’s in the yard outside his house in northern Dubuque.

Luke, a seventh-grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, has spent the past 11 months constructing his own tiny house, the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2q4jPut ) reported.

The project is nearing completion, Thill said. However, he plans to continue adding on to the house even after it’s complete.

Luke said the process has been a learning experience, and he hopes he can inspire others.

“I’m proud of it,” he said. “It shows people that you don’t have to be old to do that kind of stuff.”

The roughly 89-square-foot structure stands in a yard outside Thill’s substantially larger primary home.

Two of the exterior walls are covered with cedar shake siding and the other two have vinyl. A bright orange door opens up to a small kitchen space with a counter that soon will be covered with glass and a lacquer.

The tiny house has shelving space and a pull-down table, along with a ladder that leads up to a carpeted loft with a mattress. An electrical conduit runs from the main house to power the structure.

Thill uses an ottoman on the lower floor as a couch, and a computer monitor mounted on the wall is set up with video streaming capabilities.

“It’s cool to show people that supported me through the build how it turned out,” he said.

Thill took an interest in building his own tiny house after watching YouTube videos about others going through the process. He told his parents about his idea, and they supported him as long as he could find the funding.

He turned to social media to raise awareness about his project and worked with friends of his parents to get materials and assistance with carpentry and electricity. He used money he had saved up from taking care of lawns and launched a GoFundMe campaign that raised about $150.

Thill and his father worked together on framing and paneling, and his mother and siblings also pitched in. Lately, he has been working mostly independently on things like tiling, painting and trim.

Throughout his journey, Thill has posted videos about the process on his YouTube channel. He has more than 300 subscribers, and most of his videos received at least 100 views. One has received more than 10,000.

Greg Thill, Luke’s father, said the project has helped his son learn about working with other people and asking for help, along with skills such as framing, siding and painting.

Greg Thill said he tried to give his son guidance, but he also let him learn on his own. The project has inspired Luke’s brother, Cole, to build a teardrop camper, Greg Thill said.

“As a father, it’s neat to see your kid grow and learn from those experiences,” he said.

Though the house is not quite finished, Luke Thill hopes to have an open house for the project in about the next month, one year after he started to build. He has already begun staying in the house overnight.

“I learned how if you work hard, it really pays off, how to run a company efficiently and make enough money,” he said. “I learned a lot.”


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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