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College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House for $20k

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This 145 sq. ft. tiny house on wheels was built by a University of Texas design student, Joel Weber, for only $20,000.

Inspired by his childhood love for tree houses Joel decided to go tiny in an effort to live debt free. Thanks to a very small loan for his home he will soon be a debt-free college graduate and a homeowner.

This home was built on a 18-foot flatbed trailer. Joel says he loves the fact that he can move the home anywhere he wants to. It’s currently parked in a family friend’s backyard.

Once you go inside the tiny house to your right is a nice lounge area surrounded by windows. The storage staircase to the sleeping loft triples as a work area and pantry for the kitchen.

The kitchen has enough room for a mini refrigerator and full size oven for home cooking. In the bathroom you’ll see there is a full shower but at the time of this writing the toilet is still currently on Joel’s project to-do list. He currently uses the main house facilities when needed.

In the future Joel hopes to design and build more sustainable tiny homes similar to his own. Please enjoy and re-share below. Thank you!

College Student Builds $20k 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House

College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House-001

Images © Joel Weber via Today

College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House-002 College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House-003 College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House-004 College Student Builds 145 Sq. Ft. Tiny House-005

Images © Joel Weber via Today

Read the original story about Joel Weber’s tiny house on Today.

Learn more: http://www.today.com/money/college-student-builds-tiny-home-graduate-debt-free-t28526

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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    July 8, 2015, 8:23 am

    My Goodness! This man sure has a flair for design: what an utterly comforting and comfortable home that he created for himself. I’d like to meet this young man; he appears to have his head screwed on properly and his priorities in order. 😀

    It’s delightful to see a man’s home look “homey” vs. Spartan or Man Cave with NASCAR posters plastered about the wall.

  • Nancy M.
    July 8, 2015, 9:37 am

    Nice, comfortable, and attractive design. Smart young man! Congratulations go out to him for his practicality and his creativeness! Two thumbs up!

  • Lynnette
    July 8, 2015, 3:26 pm

    That bathroom…AND TUB !!! ♡♡♡

    • Darlene
      November 16, 2016, 2:04 pm

      So ditto 😉

  • Mary J
    July 8, 2015, 4:33 pm

    love this little house, the staircase, the bathtub, the benchseat, everything 🙂

  • LoriLou
    July 8, 2015, 4:39 pm

    Love this set-up. It was going to achieve my “favorite tiny” status but I couldn’t find the washer or clothes closet. So close.

  • Eric Williams
    July 8, 2015, 4:56 pm

    I’ve heard of sleeping like a log….but there actually appears to be a log sleeping in that bed……

    • Gabrielle Paz
      November 16, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Silly rabbit, that’s a bolster pillow, not a log.

  • Eric Williams
    July 8, 2015, 4:57 pm

    That is one seriously cool bathroom!

  • SteveDenver
    July 8, 2015, 5:32 pm

    EXCELLENT DESIGN! This is attractive, loaded with convenience, and considering the average student in the Denver area pays 600-800/mo rent, this is a huge financial savings.

  • Karen
    July 8, 2015, 5:35 pm

    Give this kid an A! Very impressive!

  • Mary Henss
    July 8, 2015, 5:51 pm

    I love the sink and tub..very Zen! The design is outstanding. Love the bench but these old bones need cushions…LOL Way to go!

    • Darlene
      July 8, 2015, 6:10 pm

      Love the total design, the utilization of space!

  • Dominick Bundy
    July 8, 2015, 6:35 pm

    Cleverly done, for the price of what some new cars costs.. You could have a new mortgage free home all of your own..

  • Mike
    July 8, 2015, 6:55 pm

    Small aluminum windows, very smart! The trailer looks a bit under-rated for the load, though it probably doesn’t matter much if he doesn’t move it often. Hope he does get it up off the axle’s though.

    Air conditioner on the roof would be great!

    Very, very nice!!

  • Marcy
    July 8, 2015, 8:33 pm

    I so prefer storage stairs to a ladder. This is the first time I’ve seen someone add the desk area under the storage stairs. Nice idea.

  • July 8, 2015, 10:10 pm

    I love how he did the stairs. Great use of space and terrific desk and storage ideas.

  • Diana
    July 8, 2015, 10:59 pm

    Great job and lovely tiny house! He did an amazing job on this one. I have seen others for way more cost that weren’t this sweet! Good to see the younger people are doing such wonderful things!

  • Hannah
    July 9, 2015, 12:33 am

    Love the tub. What is it and where can I get one?

  • Kim
    July 9, 2015, 6:48 am

    Love the staircase and bathroom! I have the germ of an idea for a small cabin on my vegetable plot in France and realise I will definitely need stairs if that comes to fruition. This sort of storage stairs would be perfect! Well done, Joel, and thank you, tinyhousetalk gang for sharing.
    PS – are there definitive square footages for micro/tiny/small? When. I have googles it, the measurements vary!

    • Alex
      July 9, 2015, 12:40 pm

      Thanks Kim! To answer your question, no there’s not really a definitive guide for square footage in relation to the word tiny or small because it really depends on people’s various needs/desires for a home *and* how many inhabitants are in it.

  • Meg
    July 9, 2015, 12:26 pm

    Fantastic! Good design, well thought out, and a staircase. I’m loving the bathroom

  • Kelli
    July 9, 2015, 12:37 pm

    This is a great house! I wish I could have had this setup when I was in college… it would have been so preferable to the dorm and I would have had a home to live in for all 4 years. He is really smart and will be grateful for the money he’s not spending on campus or apartment living that he will never get back (or pay interest on). Love the design too… very roomy and comfortable!

  • Susanne
    July 10, 2015, 3:18 am

    Brilliant guy !

  • Lisa
    July 10, 2015, 10:19 pm

    Question: how is it powered? Solar? RV style? Water source?

  • Cheryl Hamilton
    July 11, 2015, 2:40 pm

    I like the fact that his stairs include space for a desk. That is real good use of space.

  • Vitrvarg
    July 11, 2015, 6:47 pm

    Very nice, and no ladders to get to the sleeping loft. Only down side is the treads on the bookcase stairs are thin plywood, they should be beefed up to say 2×12 routed out to form a stiffer tread and rounded over so you don’t cut something if you bark your foot on one. I would have put in a handrail on the outside wall as well.

  • Robbin
    July 13, 2015, 2:39 pm

    I love this design. The staircase and the Tub/Shower are great for this house. And he made his own design(?)!

  • Liz
    July 14, 2015, 11:52 am

    Joel, skip the school and go into business building Tiny Homes. You are absolutely great at this work and it shows. Your home looks SO inviting and comfy. It looks like you have a God-give talent for this type of work.

  • Tim
    July 17, 2015, 7:11 pm

    how is this a good deal? That’s $138/square foot, or more expensive than the majority of housing in this country, which includes land. Plus, while he “can move” it whenever he wants, he will need permission from a land owner to stay, can get kicked out whenever they feel like it, has no permanent address, which reduces credit worthiness and increases other costs and this “home” will still need to be registered in order to be towed across public roads. It would have been better to invest that money into building a tiny home on a small parcel.

  • Richard sullivan
    July 17, 2015, 11:26 pm

    Man that was an awesome job all the way through! God job on design and finish

  • Johnny Walker
    July 18, 2015, 1:57 am

    What? $20,000 for 145 sq ft? That’s not sustainable or affordable. I appreciate small homes and reducing your carbon footprint, but this is asinine. I’m sorry, but realistically you’re just patting yourself on the back, saying “Look how cool I am.”

  • Garrett
    July 18, 2015, 4:38 pm

    very nice tiny house!

    To anyone commenting on price / sq ft: this is the wrong approach – you listen to RE agents too much. Total cost of ownership and having what you need at the right price is the proper way to think about home costs. Price / sq ft is a marketing/sales way of thinking. It justifies buying McMansions with extra space that is wasted due to inefficient design (or simply too much space).

  • Denise
    July 23, 2015, 9:06 am

    Beautifully done; it would be a pleasure to be a student working on homework inside of this.

  • Patty
    August 19, 2015, 1:35 am

    Love the rustic wood and bathroom. Well done!

  • Beverley
    October 16, 2016, 7:02 am

    I wish I had the mindset to live in a tiny home when I was that age. I really like the fact that the house has everything a person needs as especially for the size. The staircase allows for storage and it’s function could be changed as a need arises. I love the design elements. The bathroom is nice and the kitchen is well set up. Great job, you have an eye for detail.

    • Alex
      October 16, 2016, 8:59 am

      Thanks, Beverly!

  • Robbin
    November 15, 2016, 8:13 pm

    Really like this simple design. Normally I don’t like the showers in tiny houses but I really like this one. I also like the stairs. I have been in a tiny home with a ladder. I would have preferred the stairs shown.

    • Natalie
      November 16, 2016, 7:16 am

      Yes the shower/stairs are great! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Lauri
    November 16, 2016, 1:03 pm

    Any chance I could get more information about that bathtub? Is it based around a commercial model or did he build it all himself?

    • Natalie
      November 18, 2016, 7:07 am

      It looks hand-built to me, but I don’t have any additional info. Sorry, Lauri! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Rebecca A Zoll
    November 16, 2016, 1:13 pm

    I think it is a well-thought out plan. I would like some plans or info about building or making the tub/shower area because that looks close to what I want in my own THOW.

    Rebecca A. Zoll

  • jm
    November 17, 2016, 1:09 pm

    Most of real estate is judged by square foot cost. Although it’s not the only factor, it is a pretty good indicator of how much bang for the buck you’re getting. If he can recoup that money by selling after he’s done with school…that’s one thing. Big IF, but in a college town–other students may have the same idea.

    • Natalie
      November 18, 2016, 7:09 am

      I think his thought process was he doesn’t have to sell it necessarily, and instead of throwing away hefty room and board fees every year, he put that money into something that’s at least worth something. — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Susanne
    November 17, 2016, 11:22 pm

    Well done! But I never understand those tiny, TINY
    Bathroom sinks!!!?? Wash your face and water will be
    Everywhere!!!! 🙁

  • Jan
    January 21, 2017, 5:50 pm

    A smart thing to do while you’re still young! Nice design! I especially like the bathroom. Way to go!

    • Natalie
      January 23, 2017, 8:02 am

      Very much so!

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 21, 2017, 7:58 pm

    I have seen this house before. It’s great to see it again. This was a spectacular build for a young man. It’s really pretty and functional, and has unique touches (like the cool tub) that make it his own.

    • Natalie
      January 23, 2017, 7:59 am

      Yes he really did a stellar job.

    January 21, 2017, 8:08 pm

    Great Job….!

  • Susanne
    January 21, 2017, 8:34 pm

    How IS the price per sq ft still high when he built it himself ( assuming no paid labor) and clearly did not use all brand new high end materials????? Plus it’s way under
    200 sq ft even!

    • Natalie
      January 23, 2017, 7:55 am

      I’m afraid building homes just isn’t “cheap.” I think $20K is quite reasonable for a DIY tiny house. $10K is possible, but only with the bare minimum and almost entirely reclaimed materials.

  • Patty
    January 22, 2017, 3:28 am

    I really admire what he has done with the space. The bathroom is so nicely functional and great looking. I love the desk area! A lot of really good ideas! Well done!

    • Natalie
      January 23, 2017, 7:23 am

      It’s a wonderful (and inexpensive!) build.

    January 23, 2017, 12:17 pm

    You impress me Joel! Good job!

  • Betty
    July 12, 2017, 10:39 pm

    This young man did an awesome job, no matter how much he spent. Two thumbs up!!☺

  • Susan Secord
    May 1, 2018, 7:13 pm

    I have a fifth-wheel that needs a total redo, I do live in it as of now. what would you suggest for this? I will have a large amount of money available to me in august for the rehab and I am willing to do this myself and use items that are not new. please help me with some advice

  • Kathy
    May 2, 2018, 4:15 pm

    Great job! You have not only the good financial sense to have done this, but you also have a talent for design. It is masculine without being a “man cave”. It also appears comfortable and homey. Love the tub and the storage stairs. I am curious though, its been something like 3 years since this was first run…..are you still living in it? Are you still loving it? Anything that you have changed in it since you built it?

  • Joe
    July 7, 2018, 5:00 pm

    Definitely better than your typical dorm room. Nice job!

  • Maria
    July 8, 2018, 7:21 am

    Great Job! Would love to see Pictures of the bathroom when finished with toilet.

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