Teen Built Dream Tiny House From Scratch Using Reclaimed Materials

Apr 01, 2021 by apost team

At just 21 years old, Tom Lear is a homeowner. At his young age, he is living debt-free in a tiny village outside of Bristol, U.K., in the house of his dreams. How did he manage that? He decided to turn his dream into a reality and began building a tiny house three years ago in 2017 when he was just 17.

Since he had just begun his carpentry apprenticeship at the time, he figured he would be able to build his own house from scratch.

His idea of building the hut was to keep it all stress-free and modest; that is why he went for recycled materials and stuck to a budget. He loves that he does not need to spend his hard-earned money on rent, too. In the video below, Lear describes it as, “Just a simple life; all you got is once you’ve built it. It’s just yours then and there.”

Lear’s beautiful English-style tiny house is built on his grandfather’s property, which allows him an impressive parking lot. For a start, he had the land and a trailer, which helped to motivate him as well. He maintained the traditional rustic English feel with a window atop the sidings.

The front of the house is made of larch wood, which Lear got for a bargain from a local lumberyard. The doors and windows are from a site that sells second-hand materials, and the back and front sidings he used fence panels.

He used old planks bought from a scaffolding company and scrap pieces of wood he got from work for the deck.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-) 

Lear is a carpenter by trade now, and he says that there was a big learning curve when it came to building the house. The electricity and plumbing, for instance, pushed him out of his comfort zone. “The hardest bit was the roof definitely because I’ve no experience in cutting tin, laying all that and making sure it’s waterproof,” he explains.

The minute you enter Lear’s home, your eyes are likely drawn to a picture featuring spectacular lake scenery. Lear says, "I really wanted to bring the outside in.” On the side is a tiny foldable work counter that he uses for work and meals. Lear used a lot of reclaimed timber around his house, mostly ripped out from old homes.

He sanded and varnished the wood before reusing to give his house a beautiful clean look. His kitchen boasts a fully functional countertop and essential appliances, such as the stove, fridge and toaster. There is a tiny bathroom opposite the countertops with a fancy chemical toilet equipped with an electric water flush. The shower room is made of corrugated sheet iron walls, copper taps and pipes that accentuate the simple and rustic farmhouse-inspired bathroom.

“The only thing I miss about living in a normal house is the space,” Lear told The Sun in a Feb. 2021 interview.

"As I have a lot of things which simply wouldn’t fit in my new home. We couldn’t even fit in a door for the bathroom so I use a shower curtain.”

To save even more space, Lear put a standard second-hand couch on wheels, though he plans to build one with storage in the future. The tiny house also boasts a cozy fireplace in the corner, along with a wall-mounted television for movie nights.


The Tiny House Craze

A ladder can be lowered to take you up to Lear’s small-but-homey bedroom with a double mattress. Lear started working on his dream home at age 18 while earning £4 ($5.50) per hour, and look at where he is now. He set his mind to it, made plans and used what was at his disposal, completing the entire project for around £6,000 (or $8,250). And today, after multiple media outlets have picked his story up, Lear is an active member of the growing tiny house movement.

According to the Financial Times, the tiny house movement got its start in the 1970s. But it wasn’t until 2008 — when the global financial crisis struck — that it really grew in popularity. During that period of particular economic peril, younger people started building compact, affordable homes, especially in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.

It didn’t take long for the media to catch onto the tiny house phenomenon once it started to spread. Today there are a variety of television shows from Netflix’s “Tiny House Nation” to Discovery's “Tiny House Hunters” that have mainstreamed the idea, and creators like Lear post their content online.

Social media, as the Financial Times notes, has therefore been incredibly important for the movement. Lear himself has an active Instagram account with more than 2,000 followers. What’s more, there are more than 2 million posts associated with the #tinyhouse tag on Instagram.

Bryce Langston, a tiny house enthusiast and popular YouTuber, has been a key player in the movement, too. His YouTube channel, “Living Big In A Tiny House,” has nearly 4 million subscribers.

A Global Phenomenon

“We are starting to see the movement take off as a global phenomenon,” Langston told the Financial Times in May 2020. “Our show is very popular in places like India and the Philippines. We’re seeing growth from all over the place.”

Langston started his own tiny house project nearly a decade ago. Why, you might ask? The rents were just too high in Auckland, New Zealand, and Langston wanted a more affordable alternative. In his interview with the Financial Times, he added that it’s appealing to have a “safe” space that “can’t be taken away from you.” When you own your property and home outright, you don’t have to worry about landlords or paying off a massive mortgage, for example. Tiny houses also fosters a sort of anti-consumerism, Langston told the publication.

“The movement stands in opposition to (consumerism), and encourages us to find happiness in a deeper place,” Langston said.

As for 21-year-old Lear, the reason he built his tiny home was more simple.

“I just didn’t want to get caught in the rent cycle,” he explained.

Today, Lear continues to update the many fans he’s gathered on Instagram and YouTube with more videos and photos of his tiny house. In April 2020, the young carpenter posted a tutorial explaining how he built his miniature sofa bed.

While the initial investment had to be time-consuming, Lear told the Financial Times that, at the end of the day, his tiny house gives him more freedom to spend time (and money) on the hobbies he’s genuinely passionate about, like skiing, traveling and hiking.

What do you think of this inspiring story? Would you live in a tiny house? Let us know, and pass this video on to your friends and family members to brighten their day. 

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