Texas Man Builds Miniature House in Hopes of Avoiding College Debt

Joel Weber's home is 145 square feet.

ByABC News
June 30, 2015, 4:38 PM
Joel Weber, 25, built a tiny house for himself to avoid college debt.
Joel Weber, 25, built a tiny house for himself to avoid college debt.
Joel Weber

— -- Joel Weber said he's determined to incur less college debt by living in the tiny, 145-square-foot house he built, rather than struggling to pay higher rent in his college town of Austin, Texas.

"I wanted a place to call home," Weber told ABC News. "I wanted it to be affordable so I could be debt-free and let it be an investment to give back to the community — not just dumped into rent that I wouldn't get any return on."

Weber, who will begin his junior year at the University of Texas at Austin, said it can cost upwards of $800 a month to live in the area near his school.

PHOTO: The house is complete with two lofts.
The house is complete with two lofts.

In a bid to save himself from further debt, the 25-year-old said it was summer 2014 when he decided that he'd build his own home, rather than stressing over higher costs for an apartment, or on-campus dormitories.

The dwelling, Weber said, took one year to complete and cost an estimated $20,000.

"I saved up quite a bit and what I didn’t have, family, friends, and the community around me donated materials," he said. "I designed it and worked with a carpenter and electrician who both volunteered their time.

"I do landscaping, I house sit, I nanny for someone in the area, and when I have extra money, I can charge people a little less to help them out," Weber added. "It's about being able to give back to these people in my community."

Built on an 18-foot flatbed trailer, the space boasts two lofts, working plumbing, electric, a shower, a propane-powered stove, and a sink Weber crafted from a mango bowl.

PHOTO: Weber said he crafted his sink from a mango bowl.
Weber said he crafted his sink from a mango bowl.

In regards to its size, Weber said he couldn't be more pleased with how his home turned out.

"The smaller my house is, the more I'll be active," he said. "That’s why it fits my lifestyle because it allows me to be on the move, but it's also within my means."

While he's now parked near his hometown in Dallas, Weber said he's thrilled to move his little house to Austin when he starts school in the fall.

"I may live in it forever and I'm cool with that, 145 square feet might not be for everybody, and that's OK," Weber added. "It's more about how I can live simple and still be grateful."