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Teen Finishes his own Mortgage-free Tiny House at Age 17

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Over the years we’ve all been watching as Austin Hay began building his own mortgage-free tiny house.

He started when he was a freshman in high school when he was just 15 years old. Austin had only taken one woodworking class before.

Besides that, he had watched his dad build a home so he really didn’t have that much experience with carpentry. Now in his senior year in high school, he’s finishing up his 130-square-foot dream home on wheels.

Kirsten Dirksen of Faircompanies.com has put together yet another video for all of us to enjoy. You’ll get to listen to Austin as he explains all of the features of his tiny home and I’m glad to announce that the house is nearly 100% complete.

“It feels great every day that I accomplish something. Even just a simple ladder,” says Austin.

Using a portable indoor heater, his little house heats up in about an hour during the winter. He plans on using two propane tanks: one for his water heater and the other for the heater.

Throughout the entire project, he’s been collecting the trash generated from it and it’s added up to just three and a half garbage cans of disposal. Not bad when you consider the national average of 8,000 pounds of garbage generated from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home.

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Austin Hay Completes his own Mortgage-free Tiny House at Age 17

I encourage you to watch the complete tour below:


  1. minihousebuilder.com
  2. http://www.minihousebuilder.com/

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More Like This: TinyHouses | 13-Year-Old Teen Builds Debt-free Tiny Home | THOW

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • October 18, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Well done Austin!! You’re such an inspiration to me & many others. I’m planning on attending the Tumbleweed workshop in Orlando this coming January to get some hands on experience & then buy my trailer in February. I’m going to have to go slowly just like you did with plans of finishing by June of 2015, a few months before I semi retire when I turn 50. By then I should also have purchased my land or become a caretaker & live happily ever after in my tiny house. 🙂

    • October 21, 2012, 5:06 pm

      Thanks Jennifer. Hope you enjoy the Orlando workshop with Jay. I may be there too just not 100% sure yet.

  • Cal 20 Sailor
    October 21, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Congratulations, Austin! Fantastic job! It’s really encouraging to see the enthusiasm your work has generated among the visitors, especially your teenage friends. You’re going places, in more ways than one, and you’ve already had a great influence on those around you. The very best of luck to you!

    (PS: Just one cautionary warning–install a carbon-monoxide detector, if you haven’t already, as your water-heater and stove/oven are rated for outdoor use only, particularly the water-heater… If possible, you may want to see if you can vent it to the exterior.)

    • October 21, 2012, 5:06 pm

      Thanks Cal and good call on the oven/water heater set up for his house. Hopefully he’s got a detector already.

  • dana pallessen
    October 21, 2012, 3:21 pm

    great job. if you can do this, you can do anything. you can put curtains across your loft area to keep keep in the lower and save energy. think about what in your “traSH” can be recycled. you could take this to college, if you go and live in it. the college should encourage this. make sure you are wholly self-reliant by then. you can find a tiny washer online. and use a recycling toilet for your waste. empty at an rv dump site or you could empty your humanure type toilet under plants for mulch. check out ReCycle habitat for humanity fotres for a door knob. i don’t know you and i feel so proud. make sure you have a window to open or a carbon dioxide detector.

    • October 21, 2012, 5:07 pm

      Thanks Dana! Great idea to check out habitat for humanity restore for a door knob too.

    • January 6, 2014, 11:23 am

      Nix that dumping a humanure toilet under plants for mulch! Humanure needs to be composted for at least a year.

      Great job! Love it and your gumption!

  • Mike
    October 22, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Looks great! You did a professional job and deserve congratulations! I see you turning this into a business that can provide a niche market with a quality product. I can relate to the process you went through. I too had a house fire and chose to rebuild my home acting as my own contractor. It was one of the best experiences of my life and taught me skills I will have the rest of my life.
    Again, Great Job!

  • jodi
    November 8, 2012, 12:45 am

    This is fantastic, I cant wait to show my 13 year old son this video so that he can be inspired. You have set a very good example for other young men, thank you for sharing!

  • Jeff
    April 16, 2015, 10:09 am

    It would be cool to have an update on how he’s doing, whether he’s still using his TH, what changes he has made/would make now that he’s been in it a while…

  • Christine
    April 16, 2015, 10:13 am

    Wow wow wow
    Your parents and grandparents are so proud of you what an accomplishment enjoy you’re tiny house and don’t ever stop building your dreams! Ever

  • R Schwartz
    April 16, 2015, 2:17 pm

    Super impressed by Austin – his independence, creativity, patience, and sheer chutzpah are remarkable! I love the Tiny House newsletter too. (One note from the English teacher in me: in paragraph 2, Austin, as one person, is a freshman, rather than freshmen – though certainly he has done the work of many on this amazing project!)

  • Libby
    April 16, 2015, 4:12 pm

    Austin is a charming and creative young man. He will be a success in life.

  • Nicole
    April 16, 2015, 7:04 pm

    Your tiny house build is an inspiration, great job! I am planning on downsizing and getting ready to build in a few years, thank you for sharing your story.

  • Kelly Libert
    April 16, 2015, 10:48 pm

    Awesome house. Awesome young man. Loved “jammies and t-shirts”. Grandpa brought tears to my eyes. I would be so proud of him, too.

  • Susanne
    April 20, 2015, 7:16 pm

    What an inspiration!!!!! Alex, PLEASE would you beable to get an update???!!!!! 🙂

    • Dick
      April 16, 2016, 11:41 pm

      I believe Austin is working for Tumbleweed Tiny Homes as a project manager. I saw a LinkedIn profile under that name, and he graduated from Analy H.S. and attended or is attending Santa Rosa Junior College.

  • Gigi
    April 17, 2016, 12:54 am

    Inspirational, Austin. Your family must be very proud. Be proud of yourself, too, and keep on learning!

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