December 1, 2023


Carefully Crafted Home

A 27-Year-Old Learned How to Build a Tiny Home From YouTube Videos

  • A 25-year-old built a tiny home using skills learned from YouTube videos after losing his job.
  • It cost him less than $6,000 and he completed the home in four months by using some spare wood.
  • The tiny home has a kitchen, folding tables, solar panels and a mezzanine bedroom. 

In the Cotswolds, a picturesque part of the English countryside, a video producer decided to build a tiny home in his backyard after losing his job.

He launched a YouTube channel as a side-hustle to keep him afloat while looking for another job and documented the process of building his tiny home.

Jacob Harrell, 27, told Insider how he built the tiny home in four months for under £5,000 (about $6,000). He is now seeking planning permission to build more and rent them out as holiday homes. 

YouTube DIY 

A photo of the tiny home. surrounded by snow in the winter.

The French doors on the tiny home were donated by Harrell’s dad.

Jacob Harrell

Harrell says he’s always been a bit of a “do-er”. He used to live on a Dutch barge – a small houseboat – and learned to carry out minor repairs and improvements by watching YouTube videos.

He used to work for CNN’s short documentary platform Great Big Story making videos. For one he built a tiny office in a week.

After being made redundant, he set up a YouTube channel and decided to convert the tiny office into a house.

“The idea came from mostly wanting to try to start a business renting out tiny homes as the idea was popular at the time because of the coronavirus pandemic and people wanted to go on ‘staycations’,” he said. 

Photo of Jacob Harrell building the tiny home.

It took just a week to build the frame.

Jacob Harrell

However, getting planning permission to rent it out proved far more difficult than he had expected.

Recycling wood

“It took a week to build the frame of the office, but it wasn’t fitted out or insulated,” he said. “The frame was essentially a shed on wheels at that point. The tiny home is completely unique – I designed it and built in the furnishings.”

The kitchen was built from scratch, as were the table and chairs, which were made from upcycled timber. The job took four months to complete. “I didn’t grow up doing DIY projects or building work, everything I learnt to do I learnt from YouTube.”

Photo of inside the kitchen

The kitchen cabinets were made using spare wood.

Jacob Harrell

Harrell’s dad donated the back window and French doors from his old house. “I saved lots by making use of spare wood,” he said. “I used recycled timber to build the tiny home and the kitchen cabinet doors were made using leftover cedar wood. The cladding and hut was made using a few leftover boards of timber.”

It cost Harrell less than £5,000 to build his tiny home, which was all for materials as he did all the work himself. It doesn’t have a bathroom, which he plans to put in a separate structure. The home has a little kitchen, folding tables, solar panels and steps to the mezzanine sleeping area.

The tiny home has a woven exterior. Harrell took loads of willow and hazel wood and twisted it to mimic the curved shape of the tiny house, which gave it an elevated look. “It looks at home in its surroundings of woodlands,” he said.

Photo of the tiny home with a view of the kitchen

The kitchen has a table that can be folded onto the wall.

Jacob Harrell

Pros and cons

Harrell said the most rewarding part was being creative and learning new skills. “I’m quite proud of the tiny house – the process of building something with your hands is very rewarding.” 

A photo with a view from the mezzanine bedroom

The mezzanine bedroom has two small windows.

Jacob Harrell

The greatest challenge for Harrell has been getting planning permission to turning it into a holiday rental. “That’s because there are barriers to renting the tiny home out to tourists,” he shared. “The process is complicated because I applied to change the use of land for tourism purposes and to rent out more than one tiny house.”

Harrell advises anyone considering following in his footsteps to be wary: “Building a tiny home is cheaper than buying a house and it gives you freedom – but the legalities of it are very difficult.”