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Teen Builds His Own Tiny Home So He Can Move Out Of His Parents’ House
October 22, 2012
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A lot of teenagers probably fantasize about having a home of their own where they can be free to live however they want. But it usually remains a fantasy.

Not for Austin Hay. The Santa Rosa, California teen has been working for the last few years on a 130-square foot "tiny home" in his parents' back yard. He's been living in his new place for about a year and a half.


It all started with a house fire.

Austin's parents' house burned down a few years back, and he watched his father rebuild from scratch, and learned a lot about construction in the process. At the same time, the bigger construction project left a lot of spare materials that Austin could use to build his own place.


But the real reason he started making his own house is pretty standard teenager stuff. He says in the video he was "just trying to get out of the house, you know sneak out and have my own place."


He studied basic construction skills, and put them to work creating a fully functional, self-contained home that sits on top of a conventional trailer.

The plans for the house were donated by Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes - one of Shafer's tiny homes helped inspire Austin's project.


The house is insulated for winter, and includes a kitchen with an oven and stovetop, a loft bedroom, a shower with propane-powered hot water and a composting toilet and even a guest bed. Pretty amazing stuff.


"It feels great every day whenever I accomplish something," Austin says in the video above. "Even just a simple ladder, I'm just like, 'yes, you can actually build something instead of buy it.'"


But another impressive aspect of the project is how little waste Austin generated while creating it. Here are the three and a half cans of garbage he generated while building the space:


And he's planning on mounting the house with solar panels to provide sustainable power. At the moment, the whole house is powered by an extension cord.

Austin plans to drive the house to college when he decides where he'll study. He's registered it as a trailer, so hopefully he'll be able to find a space to park it at whatever school he ends up at.


And if he graduates from that school, he'll start out his adult life with a mortgage-free home. Not many teenagers can look forward to that.

But maybe some other teens will get to experience the freedom of tiny home ownership: Austin's high school and other local schools have asked for his help building their own versions.

The total cost for the house, by the way? $12,000. Austin paid for a lot of it himself - he bought the $2,000 trailer with money he made at summer camp when he was 15 - but he also had help from his parents and grandparents.


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