Little John’s galvanized steel homes are a landlord’s worst nightmare

TikTok’s favorite builder can make a home out of a windowsill with eco-friendly wood veneer and some screws borrowed from his aunt.

July 01, 2024
Little John’s galvanized steel homes are a landlord’s worst nightmare Illustration by Cady Siregar / Images via @homedesign369  


After 20 years of hard work, Little John is still having a hard time finding affordable housing in the big city. Like the most young adults, he’s been royally fucked by a combination of stagnant wages, high inflation rates, and rapidly rising rental costs in pricy markets like Shanghai and New York City. The odds are already stacked against him, but TikTok’s favorite fictional building contractor — in garish teal and pink florals — is still determined to join a shrinking class of young homeowners, even if his entire life savings buys him two safety straps attached to a door on a zero square meter ledge. He has big dreams of having a place to call his own and is determined to make it work, regardless of structural integrity, area measurements, or what his landlord, HOA board, or the rest of the co-op has to say about his “unhinged home designs.”

Over the last month, Little John has become TikTok’s ultimate handyman thanks to his knack for transforming increasingly cramped and bizarre places into functional homes, which he documents in a series of build videos. At times, the brazen builder can also be a 3D-rendered terror, his “make it work” attitude bordering on entitlement, with enough audacity to ignore city building codes, the laws of physics, and his next door neighbors. All he needs is some galvanized square steel, eco-friendly wood veneers, and expansion screws borrowed from his aunts to magically transform a windowsill into a “cozy” studio or construct a tower of claustrophobic prison cells for his one billion children, who, sometimes, can get a bouncy toilet. There’s something inspiring about his tiny home creativity and the fact that if he can make barely-there studio work, you can too! You just have to be okay with having a pet eagle, training for years to become a human sledgehammer, and some unsanitary set-ups that require making food on top of his toilet.

Every remodel always starts with the same robotic voice talking about Little John buying a tiny coffin room for a couple million dollars, before he experiences an understandable depressive episode. Eventually though, our scrupulous saver is fed up and decides to go full HGTV remodel, transforming winding corridors into spa bathtubs and constructing custom toilet lifts to carry him up to his lofted bedroom. And while you never know what crazy organizational hack he’ll come with, just that he’ll be using his preferred building material and, typically, jamming to either some metronomic chill house or Crazy Donkey’s “Morsmordre (莫斯莫多),” or some type of remix.


While there’s no arguing Little John is the best in the game, his ability to “be bold” has inspired other 3D designers like Liam, Little Trump, and Alice to enter the game. And as his “galvanized steel and eco-friendly wood veneers” builds have become more daring, so has his follower count. In fact, a recent wave of POV videos, memes, and Minecraft recreations have even inspired countless humans to think about revamping a decrepit desert chimney, as well as potentially monopolizing a public bathroom or making arrangements for a sewer bachelor pad.

It’s unclear who’s behind the original 3D animations or if it’s the work of some wacky content farm, seeing as how there are several anonymous accounts dedicated to posting Little John content, including @modern.home365 and @dy02449xjp. The most prominent Little John account, however, is probably @homedesign369, which is presumably run by the two men, who appeared in a sponsored post for a rose-shaped ambient light in February.

While The FADER’s requests for comment from these accounts have gone unanswered, according to Know Your Meme, @homedesign369 was the first to mention “galvanized steel” last December. Shortly afterwards, @modern.home365 popped up with a few seemingly earnest videos about interior decorating trends before beginning to post increasingly unhinged content. There’s also @dy02449xjp, which entered the chat in January, when the owner of the account suddenly pivoted from random rom-com clips and mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II to Little John renovation content. But the ultimate clout-chasing account is probably @mcp.design365, Which initially began as an account that began by posting manifestations and healing frequencies before a run of videos about the coldest city in the world and, at last, Little John’s makeshift car apartment.

On the surface, Little John’s stories about soft pillows and squat toilets radiate naively peppy Bob the Builder energy and the infinite home decor possibilities provided by The Sims’ “rosebud” cheat code. As the popularity of other “crazy house” accounts like @lifehourly and Zillow Gone Wild’s new TV show proves, there’s a growing fascination with odd, surrealist houses. There’s also our fascination with eco-friendly tiny homes, whether you use the booming market, the huge YouTube channels, or the increasing number of “prefab” homes on Amazon as a metric, with millions tuning in for tours and dreaming up how to Marie Kondo their way into a minimalist, Little John lifestyle.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons we find Little John’s creations so fascinating and bizarrely entertaining. Judging by the amount of time Little John spends crying in his tiny triangle room, it does seem like we share some of the similar worries over sustainability, financial stability, and the skyrocketing home costs. Except Little John has the benefit of the complete suspension of reality, where he’s able to overcome his housing woes with a little D.I.Y. know-how.

In a way, we live vicariously through Little John impossible fixes inside a fictional universe that acts as a painfully real parody of the real world. We’re a generation that’s been forced to put their lives on hold because of how financially fucked we are, with the number of moving back in with their parents rising 87% over the last two decades and Gen Z “experiencing exceptionally high poverty rates,” according to the most recent analysis of the U.S. Census. And, unlike Little John, most of us aren’t financially stable enough to have kids, let alone be sued by our landlords for destruction of property, when we’re already struggling with credit card debt and a difficult job market. So, in my personal opinion, there’s something depressingly funny and oddly satisfying about what Little John can get away with, especially when everyone exists inside a (virtual) Panopticon, scrolling through TikTok from inside an 800-square foot apartment split between five other people.

Little John’s galvanized steel homes are a landlord’s worst nightmare