Growing up, University of Texas at Austin junior Joel Weber, 25, loved tree houses and had a fascination with “living small.” After spending some time living in Central America, he became even more fascinated with the concept.
He saw how small and simple the people there lived, and that it was more about community.
So when he transferred to UT, he felt that everything fell into place to make his plan a reality. He decided to ditch the dorm scene and opted for a 145-square-foot space instead.
Using concepts and skills he learned while studying, the design major created the floor plan and built the property for an estimated $20,000 total thanks in part to donations, hard work, and help from friends and family.
“I had spent some time in an apartment, but I wanted to feel ownership and invest in something that was mine,”
A family friend offered him a small space on his property, and he began building his house atop an 18-foot flatbed trailer — an important feature that allows him to move it around.
He has a main bed loft for himself, as well as one for guests. There’s a reading area, a bench that extends to a cot, an ottoman, a coffee table, stairs to his bed that double as storage, a desk and a mini pantry.
While he doesn’t have a bathroom yet — he uses the guest house on the property for that — that’s his next project, along with putting in solar panels and a rain water collector, as being environmentally friendly is extremely important to him.
Not everyone understands why a college student would want to forgo the traditional dorm or apartment life for one in such a tiny space, but Weber would rather challenge himself creatively than live a life saddled with debt.
“I thought about a travel trailer but wanted something more homelike, he said. “I couldn’t afford a normal home so I just took the leap and went for a tiny home that I felt fit my life and sustainable desires.”
Many people have also criticized the estimated $20,000 that has been reported, but Weber wanted to set the record straight.
“I took my life savings that was created by pulling money that I earned into an account every month since I was in high school and invested it into this home,” he said. “The rest was donated by amazing friends, family who believed in me and my project! Labor was donated by amazing craftsman (a huge savings off the $20k) and the rest was funded by me working my butt off while in school full-time.
“I didn’t build this for publicity. I built it to inspire people,” he continued. “If they can do this more cheaply or better, by all means go change the world people!”
Originally posted 2015-09-09 09:16:23.