Living Small

Ingenious Austin student builds his own tiny house and lives debt free

Ingenious Austin student builds his own tiny house and lives debt free

Joel Weber Tarzan tiny home debt-free house UT student 2015
Joel Weber is living debt free in this tiny house. Joel Weber/Facebook

KVUE — A University of Texas student has found a way to live debt-free in Austin, and it involves living in his own tiny home.

Joel Weber, a junior design major, came up with the idea to build the 145-square-foot home in 2014 so he wouldn't have to pay rent in a city known for the high cost of living.

"It's never become okay with me to be able to buy something that I can't actually afford," said Weber. He estimates his tiny home, which is on wheels so it can be mobile, cost around $20,000 to build.

Weber said he didn't pay that much, though. "I saved thousands because I used reclaimed materials, talked to businesses and told them what I was doing and they helped me out."

Inside his abode there is a kitchen complete with a sink, oven, work space for preparing food, and a mini refrigerator.

The bathroom has a sink, toilet, and shower. The tub was a recycled find.

"I repurposed a horse trough because I wanted a certain shape and it's cool because I can wash my laundry if I need to," Weber said.

The stairs up to the loft double as extra seating, a desk, and storage. There are a total of two loft spaces for beds and the couch on the main level can be turned into a third bed.

"I love when my friends can hang out," said Weber. "I want to make them feel comfortable and not like they're in a coffin or something like that."

Weber bartered with an Austin homeowner to park his home in their backyard in exchange for being what he calls a "manny," or professional nanny. It's another way to save on rent while he finishes his degree.


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