Teen builds tiny off-grid house using mostly recycled materials

Jesse in his tiny house

It’s time for the stereotype of the lazy, apathetic teenager to die—and the final nail in its coffin has to be the amazing tiny house, built by “Jesse” when he was a teenager.

Jesse loved spending time outdoors in his youth, so he figured the next step was to find a way to live as close to the outdoors as possible. The best way, he decided, would be to build a tiny house nestled in the woods. However, he notes, this was before the “tiny house movement” had even begun. “I didn’t call it a tiny house. I just called it a little cabin. It was years after that that I started hearing people say even the words, ‘the tiny house movement.'”

He built the whole thing by hand, using mostly just a saw and an axe, though he didn’t do it all alone. Like most successful projects, the house was built with help from family, friends, and the community.

Photo by YouTube/Dylan Magaster

Unlike some tiny houses, Jesse’s place doesn’t look unnaturally sparse or prefabricated. It’s lived-in and, while clean, it feels satisfyingly full, with shelves full of books covering every spare wall, a well-stocked kitchen full of carefully arranged jars, and sports gear mounted neatly on the ceiling. A photographer and videographer, Jesse even has an office space with a sizeable computer monitor. He sleeps in a loft above the house’s main space.

Not only is the home cozy, it’s also sustainable. Jesse gets his electricity from solar energy, which he uses to power a twelve-volt chest fridge. He has a composting outhouse, and he even cuts his lawn with a scythe, noting, “It doesn’t use any fuel, except my own. It lets me kind of get tuned in with my body, get some exercise, make some mulch for my garden, keep my area around my house clear.”

Photo by YouTube/Dylan Magaster

As Jesse has discovered, one of the great things about living in the woods is that you don’t have to confine your living space to the indoors. While Jesse’s house is small, he has plenty of room for extra amenities outside. He even has a wood-fired brick oven for making pizza, a luxury uncommon even in houses ten times the size.

But amenities aside, the best part of Jesse’s home is how it allows him to live in harmony with the outdoors. “When I come home from wherever I am at the end of the day, whatever’s going on in that day, I have to get out of my car and walk through the woods to get to my house. And I love that.”