As soon as Matt turned 16, he started building his tiny house. It took him exactly two years to start and finish it, but he’s proud to now have built it and paid for all of the materials himself.
So this is the story of how Matt Ryan built his very own tiny house for less than $8,000. Imagine having started your adult life with an affordable tiny home like this? What a game-changer, right? Learn how he made it happen below. Matt’s tiny house is 8.5-ft. wide, 34-ft. long, and the ceilings are 11-ft. high. See how you like the layout of his tiny house below!
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He Built A Tiny Home With A Bedroom For Under $8k
He started by acquiring an old construction office trailer and tearing it down to the metal frame, so he could build a tiny house on it. It’s hard work to build a tiny house. It took Matt two years to do it while finishing high school and working part-time jobs.
To save money on the project, Matt dumpster dove around Nashville to score recycled and unwanted materials. As you can imagine, this ended up saving him a lot of money on the build.
It’s pretty awesome because Matt’s tiny house started in Nashville, but he ended up moving it to Florida where he’s living in it now.
Matt’s tiny house features a spacious main-floor bedroom design. It really doesn’t even look like you’re in a tiny house on wheels, right?
Below is a shot of the bathroom, but be sure to watch Matt’s full video tour (below) so you can see it all and get the complete story behind this incredible young man and his tiny house.
An interesting fact, his shower is built using roofing material! Have you ever seen that before?
VIDEO – 16 Year Old Builds $8k Tiny House
Our big thanks to Matt Ryan for sharing!🙏
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Sometime comes a talented teenager, with good ideas and feeling of independence, creating something useful for himself. Very well done Matt.
Y’all must pardon me, please. Frankly, I’m fascinated by the tiny house idea; lots of variations and, just maybe, tho i’m not fully convinced, lots of places to put’m.
Was Matt required to obtain some kind of local permit, and have the construction process inspected at certain phases? How did he transport it to Florida? Did he buy a truck? Did he buy the lot where it is now located? Or month to month rent, or lease? Is he near good and services? Or must he drive 2 hrs each way for a dentist appt? How does he support himself in Florida?Far too many unanswered questions, furz I’m concerned….
Some of your questions are reasonable, but it is no one’s business but his own how he supports himself. The young man did a remarkable job building a beautiful home, show some respect for that.
I don’t know about a few of your questions, but I do believe in the video that he mentioned his family owned land there in Pensacola. That is most likely where he parked the tiny house.
Steveinsandiego, if you watch his video above he will answer a lot of your questions. Most places don’t require an inspection or permit for a tiny house on wheels because it is not considered a permanent structure. He doesn’t say how he transported it but I imagine it could be towed with a one ton pickup truck like a Ford F350 or a Chevy 3500. From Nashville he would have to travel down I-65 through Alabama down to Mobile, AL and then double back on I-10 to Pensacola if he wanted to stay on the interstate. He mentions in the video that he has family with land down around Pensacola. If he is outside Pensacola he is probably 20-30 minutes from the dentist, grocery stores, college, etc. He mentions that he is going to nursing school and worked two jobs while he was in high school. He may be working while attending college.
He did a great job!
Wow! Great job. I think your parents would be proud of you. Enjoy your pretty well designed house. You are an inspiration for me and for other youngsters. 👍🏼😘
Love this!! Good job 🙂
Love it!!! Great job! You are a inspiration to many. Including me! A middle aged wanna be Tiny a House owner. 😊
Matt, you are an inspiration to me, and remind me of myself at 16 (now 61) as I have the same contrary will. When people said something couldn’t be done, I would find a way – ‘never take “no” for a negative answer’ is my motto! Your stubborn streak has served you well! You certainly have what it takes to get through nursing school which isn’t easy, but you’re not afraid of hard things. I retired last month and will soon build my tiny house. Yours is stunning, and well thought out in every way! Very well done Matt!
What Teresa said! You’re going to accomplish whatever you set your mind to in life. You’re off to an amazing start! Being determined and hard-headed will serve you well.
Hi, Dana, my point: all the hype about super low- cost living. But most stories I read leave out vital info. I think it’s fair to ask about all costs involved. I bet that, for those who have taken on the tiny house lifestyle, they encountered many more hurdles than they expected, and their new lifestyle is not as gratifying as they hoped. And honestly, I’m convinced that many have somehow avoided the law. You can’t do everything you want anywhere you want anytime you without ANY
legal restraints. All details are necessary, imho.
Steveinsandiego, Please don’t be such a nay sayer. It really brings the whole vibe down when all everyone is doing is congratulating a young man for his grand efforts at his age. There has been much research on Tiny Homes & maybe to answer your questions you need to just do yours by diving into more books, videos, conferences etc.. if it was an easy task to handle he would’ve completed the build in less than 6 months yet instead I am extremely impressed with the style of his Tiny Home n all of the effort n low cost it cost him to build. Have you even watched his YouTube video yet. All regulations on Tiny Homes vary from County to County so even if Matt answered your questions which excuse me to say we’re quite direct & I probably would’ve told you; thank you but “No thanks I did my homework n research n that’s what you need to do as well n it’s rather impolite to ask me such personal questions when half of those are none of your business & please think before asking such things. Would you answer them if the shoes were reversed? I think not. People have to feel safe into today’s world & not attacked by domineering questions into their personal lives. Would’ve he brought the Tiny House with him to college n it’s RV compliant. Then you are allowed to park at certain locations yet again depends on what county & their regulations. Not anyone’s call to make but that county where anyone parks there tiny home.
He did mention already that he dumpster dived for some of his materials Steve. Just like some Tiny House builders repurpose via thrift shops, flea markets heck run down barns falling down. If the material works for you & it makes you happy & it’s free more power to you. Great job Matt. Is your Tiny Hone RV compliant n can I have a copy of your plans soon lol. I’m demolishing a 30’ camper right now to start the build of my Tiny Home. So exciting!!
Steveinsandiego, your post perfectly points out the problem I have with where this country has regressed to. Do you think the great generations of innovators and inventors, the creators of the greatest country on this planet ever gave a rat’s a$$ about permits and inspections and “some how avoiding the law”? Really? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised now that I look at your name. Where you are from about says it all. About the same as Nickinnewyork or Charlieinchicago or Dennisindetroit. I have been an innovator and creator all my life and have been instrumental in building four companies from nothing to great success. But, with the crap restrictions and permits and licenses and fees and regulations in today’s world I don’t see any way I could have done what I did. I’m getting too old to carry on the fight much longer. I’m down to just working at three jobs right now, and really feel sorry for the young generation. I fear they are never going to have the opportunity to be truly creative and actually build stuff. It really warms my heart to see a story like this one and I’m proud of the work Matt did. Thinking we can’t do what we want with our own time, our own property, and our own vision is a total no-starter for me.
hiya, michael, well, i understand what you are saying. but i believe goobermint is not altogether wrong to expect all construction to be safe. for example, if no codes are required, and i build a shoddy little house with badly installed electric and plumbing, then sell the place and it burns down two months later (and no one coould figure out how to turn on the water) how due you direct fault? am i guilty, or is the buyer foolish for not having done his homework? i mean, should auto manufacturing exist without any rules whatsoever for the vehicle coming out of the factory. i’m confident you wouldn’t agree to that. ok, all fer now. L8R!!
I believe, if I may, that what some are saying is:
You mind your business and let others mind their own business. With all due respect.
I got to agree. And honestly the way public schooling is going, these kids really have a hard road to go. I think his home is a dream. I’d love my own place like that. I physically can’t do that type of stuff any more. It really makes my heart happy to see his accomplishments. It reminds me of the Earth Ships or the people who build with earth bags or straw bales. Those possibilities give me a happy.
This young man is biologically 18 years old but, his maturity level is years beyond this young age! Quite frankly, Matt is more mature, has more intrinsic drive, and he is much more independent than most adults three times his age! Not only is his tiny house beautifully done with a practical layout but this HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT completed every square inch of this build himself while also working several part-time jobs so he could pay for the entire project on his own!! If this isn’t initiative, I don’t know what is then!
As a parent of 3 young adults and a HS teacher, I was very disappointed to hear him say that absolutely no one, not his parents, teachers, nor friends supported him through this build. Everyone in his life actually told him that he would never be able to accomplish this goal of building a tiny house. The fact that he not only ignored all of the negative comments but he stuck with the project throughout his last two years of HS in order to complete his tiny house before leaving for college in Florida really shows the character of this young man!
Awesome job Matt!! You truly are a role model for your generation!! I’m in Gainesville and my daughter is a senior @ FSU in Tallahassee. I would love to tour your tiny house (and bring my daughter to introduce her to “tiny living” b/c she thinks I’m kinda nuts for wanting to go this route) perhaps this coming summer, if you have any spare time in your schedule. Enjoy your home! You’ve certainly earned it!!
Melissa Robinson, M.S.ed.
Couldn’t agree more, Melissa!
I so agree Melissa n I didn’t know that no one supported his notion. But then again it’s like the saying that is blank in my mind at the moment lol but basically when you are surrounded by nay sayers it drives the determination in some of us that makes you want to persevere to show them how wrong they all were.
Your home is so nice. It is a labor of love and determination. I’m proud for you and I know you are. Other young people could learn a lot from you. Enjoy!
AWESOME JOB!!! You will be a very valuable addition to healthcare. KEEP Ignoring the Haters & Doubters (like steveinsandiego – Seriously, get OVER yourself, Bub! If you had a tiny fraction of this young man’s ambition & fortitude you would at least take the time to watch the video before spouting off with your lame criticism!) Matt, Kudos to you & We need millions more just like you!! Keep living your best life!
No hater here! i’m frustrated with the dearth of facts. As far as i can tell , the tiny house movement, at least in its infancy (haha, no pun intended) was envisioned to provide safe comfortable quarters for the homeless, and folks who couldn’t buy 1500sf homes. That’s why i’m frustrated with the lack of cost details expended to go from no house to a tiny house (on wheels, no less), apparently permanently parked wherever. I’ve read stories about young-adult students who have built a house on wheels, and live in a glamorous sylvan setting (maybe squatting in a nat’l park?) , attend school online and work from their RV (technically). i think it’s perfectly fair to ask about ALL costs, after all is said and done, including how much it might have cost to move the house from the building site to its final site, the rent or lease for the land, or its purchase price, and how far is the house from goods and services…5 miles, or two hours each way to go to the dentist? all of these must be considered if one is serious about joining in. It appears to me that owners are unwilling to share, bcuz it turned out to be whoppingly more expensive than they imagined.
You can’t possible get away with throwing up a rickety tool shed with a porta-potty, a garden hose and a few other makeshift amenities and situate it where ever you please. All of the building and manufacturing codes are created to protect users.
I am acquainted with ADUs, which have been built in my north san diego county vacation destination city for several years; they’re usually about 600sf. local contractors charge about $200K to build one, and rent usually starts at $2000/month, depending, of course, on location.
Steve, many people actually share that information, there are sites on it, but a lot of it won’t be relevant to other people in other areas and different situation.
Like your state is far more restrictive than say Texas is that has towns like Spur, which accept tiny houses and even THOWs if you are willing to take the wheels off and keep it on a property long term. There’s another town in Texas that is even going to try to apply Appendix Q to THOWs by having them tied down to a foundation and then inspected for compliance.
Situations vary across the country with what’s allowed and how people are managing to work it out. But you’re not going to find all that information in just one interview or article. A lot of it you simply have to do the work yourself and look it up or contact the person you want more information from… and don’t just rely on posting a comment on a article that the person you want answers from may not be reading… If you’re serious about learning then be proactive!
Speaking of San Diego, check out the latest video from Tiny House Expedition for a tour of the first legal THOW community in the nearby area of Mount Laguna. A small mountain town in the Cleveland National Forest, a stop along the Pacific Crest Trail, and about 1-hour from downtown San Diego…
It’s a converted RV Park but it has grandfathered status for extended stays. So people can rent a lot and live there legally full time all year round…
Tiny House Expedition responds to questions, so contact them if you need more information than is in the video…
I am so proud of you, young man! Keep up the good work!
Awesome job!! I see my younger self in you as well. When people told me, “You won’t be able to do that,” my response was, “Watch me.” And I did it. You are going to do great things and go far in this world. Never forget how extraordinary you are.
So true, Kathryn! Love proving the doubters wrong.
Most of my questions arise from having been a residential and commercial real estate appraiser for 26 yrs. I know a few things re: construction requirements and bldg costs ( I’ve been retired 11 yrs so regs and costs have changed😉).
All of a sudden we see a crowd of DIYers apparently taking the law into their own hands, doing whatever they please. Bldg codes have been devised to ensure structures are safe and reliable for habitation, particularly with. Houses on wheels, maybe not so much with permanently situated houses. Hope this helps you understand my comments.
Steve, building codes don’t just exist in a vacuum of no other considerations like dealing with how a property is zoned and regulated. So there’s also a lot of politics and economic leveraging evolved that has corrupted the market over the years. Home owners rights have eroded, there’s too many special interests, not all homes are healthy to live in, the housing growth hasn’t kept up with population growth for decades, there’s too much bureaucracy and it takes too long to make any changes so the housing market doesn’t adapt to changing needs, among many other problems…
So just because people are fighting back doesn’t mean they’re the ones in the wrong or are doing things unsafely… Appendix Q, NOAH, insurance, financing, etc. Many have actually fought to ensure they are safe and the majority of tiny houses can even be said to be over built.
People have been building their own homes for centuries. There are homes built by their original owners that are up to over 200 years old in this country and even older homes in Europe. Many DIY’ers are also people who have experience in the trades or follow the codes to guide them. Options like NOAH not only offer inspections for certification but also guidance to build to code for DIY’ers and we live in a society with the technology to provide a wealth of information on demand… So there’s little reason to be so pessimistic about DIY builds, never mind the majority that are commercially built by professionals.
Regulation and code have their place but the system has to work for the people and the moment it stops doing that then change must happen… and that’s what’s happening…
Regulation and code have their place but the system has to work for the people and the moment it stops doing that then change must happen… and that’s what’s happening…
change should come legally, not illegally.
to repeat, i’m fascinated with the tiny house idea. i’m sad that it has been embraced by only a handful of communities. i’m particularly irritated that cities with homeless folks have not rallied to
develop mini-neighborhoods for them….at least i haven’t seen evidence, except expressions and concerns, including from churches. sure, it’s a different approach, but it ought to be easy to implement. Finding suitable land, tho, appears to be the biggest problem, at least from the articles i have perused. And then one must deal with the nimby factor, unfortunately……sigh and more sigh.
ok, nuff fer now. CUL8R 😉
an aside: i read a story about an architecct who, in 1994, supposedly came up with the idea of using storage container. It went on to explain that he had built a homeless veteran community in las vegas. well, i looked up the address, provided in the story, went on google maps, and used street view to try to find evidence. i couldn’ t come up with anything.
Steve, in a perfect world everything would be done legally but we don’t live in a perfect world. When the system is corrupt, catering to special interests, full of bias and NIMBY’ism, and those most effected have little to no influence to make any changes is when people have no choice but to do what they must in order to survive.
It’s unfortunate but those in power haven’t addressed the problems for decades now, much of the population is unaware of how serious the problem is or don’t want to deal with it, and it is only getting worse and effecting an ever larger percentage of the population.
Examples like you’ve just given on alternative communities that have disappeared are actually examples of how the system is corrupt and broken. Many attempts to offer housing, even for the homeless, gets rejected not because of safety or lack of land or even funding but for things like NIMBY’ism and not being a official solution by the government.
Like, for example, just last year Kanye West tried to create a homeless shelter community on his own 300-acre plot of land but was denied because of apparent neighbor complaints of the construction noise, despite the property basically being in the desert and miles to the nearest neighbor, and because they invalidated his original permits after he had already built most of the concrete dome structures… So he had to cancel the project and tear it all down.
Other examples including housing projects that were canceled, even for abandoned and government owned properties, because the neighboring community sued them to prevent it even though the community would have been isolated from the project but mere proximity was the only issue.
Even perfectly good food donated from restaurants can be thrown out simply because those giving it to the homeless don’t have the right type of permit to do so, or aren’t a government entity… Or emergency shelters can be destroyed rather than give people on the streets even a nights reprieve, again because of bureaucracy or NIMBY’ism… Or just massively inefficient as millions get wasted on just the bureaucracy and not what is actually given to those in need…
When nationally, even so called affordable housing developments are exceeding $300K per house, there needs to be a major re-evaluation of how things are being done.
Much of the system just ignores common sense and what actually works in favor of the status quo and catering to special interests… Again, the system has to work for the people and the moment it stops doing that then change must happen… Common sense, practicality, and the rights of the people is what ultimately has to prevail if we hope to ever solve these problems…
In this country, at least, it is the right of the people to choose to remove and replace the system of government if it fails or becomes too corrupt… Like what the residents of Amelia, OH did last year when they voted to dissolve their corrupt local government and start over… It’s the people that actually have the final say on what is legal… The government sometimes has to be reminded of this or it falls on the people to reset the system, provided we don’t forget that’s how it’s actually suppose to work and not the other way around…
yep, i agree with several of the problems you cite. nimbyism is probably one of the more incensed . i dunno whether the nimbies don’t prefer smaller-scaled edifices…well, maybe not, but i bet you they really don’t want formerly homeless folks around their neighborhood, and that is an extremely sad commentary. fwiw, and i may have mentioned this somewhere in one my posts: for about the last 7 years my wife and i have been involved in feeding the homeless at a local rescue mission, one evening a month; we order the food the day before, pick it up the next day, and visit the rescue mission. may be anywhere from 10-30 people present. Thank the Lord we have never run out of food! ergo, i’m very aware of the needs out there; we are not blind, and are grateful that we can help in our small way. figuring out how to contribute sometimes is a problem, and in the case of the tinyhome industry, a big problem.
as for communities for the homeless, a big problem is dough. Many of them want to provide on-site supervisory personnel 24-7, no minor expense. i’m sure other ancillary expenses are required. well, we could go one for hours, couldn’t we? we are preparing to participate in an online maundy thursday service from our church. Happy Easter if we don’t converse til afterwards.
Thanks Steve, and a happy Easter to you and your family as well.
I have always wondered why so many buildings in down town areas sit empty and rotting when they could be turned into apartments. That would totally solve the homeless problem. My vision would be the upper floors would be housing and the bottom floor would be a market and other such shops that the people living there could run as a coop in exchange for their housing. You could maybe even set up a school on one of the floors. California not only has a regular homeless problem but then you add in the fires destroying so many homes. Then you have the rentals being so outrageously expensive. I am in low income housing because I am disabled. I pay less than $300. a month. I can’t even imagine spending thousands a month on rent. Not to mention that new housing is so badly made. Cheap products and cutting corners. I don’t see them ever building anything like they did even a hundred years ago, much less anything that future archiologists would want to discover ala Petra.
I’m always sad when I see big, empty retail buildings around town and think of what a waste that space is!
Great job without being goofy over the top. Only thing I’d do differently is drop the TV down to eye level. Very productive kid who is certain to do great things. WELL-DONE.
I love tiny houses…ill build one too
I hope you are reading these comments. You are the kind of rare individual that should give everyone hope and inspiration. I know what it is like to not have anyone believing in you and your dreams. What an incredible strength of will it takes to just do it and push past what everyone else naysays to you. I wish you only the best in all your future and present endeavors. The nursing field is blessed to be getting you. I have no doubt you will always be an honorable person. I could say so much more. I feel so strongly about who you are and thank you so much for showing all of us what is possible! Never give up! Sending you love and respect dear one. Many blessings!!!
Thanks for sharing your story, Matt! I join the many others who have said “well done” to your final outcome. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share it with us.
Never lose the lesson your life has taught us all :
Those who say “you can’t” are victims of their own defeatist mindset, just keep taking the next step and KEEP A SMILE on your face. You will be a blessing to those you care for when you become a NURSE and go even further! This is just the beginning of a successful gift you are giving to people in this country– tough and determined character built by this project molded by compassion for others combined with a set of sharp medical skills. Keep going strong, Matt.
You are so right about people who say you can’t do anything. Those people always defeat themselves in their endeavors. Thanks for speaking my mind!
Matt I hope you keep building and sharing your ideas..Great job!
I have been watching your progress with this tiny home since the first posting when you started. It is an amazing accomplishment for a teen in any society, and you can be very proud of yourself. I am sure this same determination and drive will take you many places and probably many careers before you decide where you want to settle, but I don’t doubt that one day we will see you featured in the Fortune 500 magazine for yet another amazing feat at a young age. Wherever you end up, never forget your family, friends, or your roots. Great job on the tiny house! Your biggest fan.
I am an older guy. I am have been a real estate broker and appraiser for 46 years. I have a close connection to a construction firm in KY. Does anyone know if we are allowed to build a THOW and take it to Florida..not intending to permanently attach it to a lot or to park it in an RV park. Looking to buy a site to park it long term. Thanks for any help and thanks to ALEX….I use this newsletter for my “newspaper” ain KY before we move it?nd entertainment. (Ideas also). Also, can be build it to Florida codes
CORRECTED EMAIL…..I am an older guy. I am have been a real estate broker and appraiser for 46 years. I have a close connection to a construction firm in KY. Does anyone know if we are allowed to build a THOW and take it to Florida..not intending to permanently attach it to a lot or to park it in an RV park. Looking to buy a site to park it long term. Also, can we build it to Florida codes in KY before we move it? Thanks for any help and thanks to ALEX….I use this newsletter for my “newspaper” and entertainment. (Ideas also).
Hi Mike — there are no laws against moving a tiny house across state borders, that said, you’ll have to contact your local town offices in Florida where you plan to park it. The laws are so different everywhere and in every town, and the zoning board is where you need to get the rules for your specific situation. I hope that helps!
Mike, you are familiar with “location, location, location” i’m sure. if you want to settle semi permanently, it seems to me you need to decide on a specific location in florida, whether city or county, and research its applicable building codes. yeah, yeah, too many TH folks figure they can do anything they want anywhere they want without permission fron anyone; c’mon, that ain’t so. building codes are developed to protect people, i.e., builders and buyers. Seems that more and more folks hate ANY government regs imposing on their lives…phfft, ponder the consequences of a world like that. jmhofwiw….. 😉
“building codes are developed to protect people, i.e., builders and buyers” and enrich developers. We even have them over here in New Zealand. UNFORTUNATELY
Matt Ryan’s tiny home is so beautiful inside and out! He is so intelligent and smart to be so young! I wish I had one just like this to live in and could rent out my big home. Shirley Potts
I have the highest regard for young people making a life for themselves! Congratulations on a job well done, Matt! Your parents must be proud. Don’t ever stop succeeding! Love your tiny house.
Good Job young man !! you have gained some skills that no doubt will help you in your life’s journey. If nothing else you can parlay them into a nice side job building tiny homes for other people. Best of luck on your future endeavor’s.
You did such an amazing job! This home is beautiful! Your parents, family and teachers should be very proud of you! Good luck on your Nursing education. You are one that accomplishes what you set your mind on.