Sixteen-year-old Austin Hay of Santa Rosa, Calif., has been sleeping in a work-in-progress 130 square foot "tiny home" in his parents' backyard for months. The project came about because "like every teenager, I want to move out," says Hay.

Hay learned basic construction skills in woodshop during his first two years of high school, and has applied those skills to roughing out a fully functional, self-contained home that sits atop a conventional trailer. He says it's "plenty of space" and hopes to live in the home after college.

Showing an unusual level of awareness of the roots of America's current fiscal crisis, Hay said that "I don't think bigger is better — too many chores […] plus, there's no mortgage on it. Living small means less bills." If only more of the country had the common sense of a 16-year-old.

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Hay estimates the total cost for the home is $12,000; most of the materials were acquired at salvage yards. The completed home will include a shower, composting toilet, bed loft, and a kitchen with camper stove. Hay says his hope for the future is that cities will change their building codes so that he doesn't have to continue to claim that he is "camping out" in the tiny home.