Edit: Our house was recovered!
Second Edit: As it has been almost a year since our house was stolen, I’m sure it’s now safe to give the details of the theft. Our house was stolen by meth heads who had other stolen property where our house was found, including two stolen vehicles, jet skis, big rig trailers, lots of stolen stuff inside the house, and a sawed off shotgun inside (the thief is a convicted felon.)
To this day, there have been no arrests made. We paid about $800 in impound, towing, storage, and security fees, and the thieves have had to pay no price at all. The thief even fled the house when the police arrived (we got to watch him run), and they’ve still made no arrest.
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Ugh. How do I even start a blog post like this?
WARNING: If you’re offended by explicit language, I’d suggest you immediately fuck right off. This is a highly emotional post, so please don’t take the emotion personally, unless you feel like lecturing me on how I should have done something better. In that case – please take it personally.
On December 20, I got a call from the realtor who sold us our piece of property in Spring Branch, TX. I’m not keeping the location secret any more, because we’re not going to live there now. She told me that our neighbor somehow got a hold of her, to let her know that there was a break-in at our property. Also, our “trailer” was gone.
I cannot properly describe how low my heart dropped in my body, except to say that it was the worst panic attack I’ve had in my entire life. My entire body was shaking as our former real estate agent told gave me the neighbor’s phone number. I called her, and she told me about how our “trailer” was stolen the prior night.
This is what we got to see, after the 45 minute drive to our property – a drive that I’ve made at least 20 times each way, at this point. Our house had not even been on the property for a month, and some fucking ass-clown decided to steal it, like it was his all along.
We probably put in about $35,000 into parts alone on the house. Clearing the (now destroyed) land and adding a paver “driveway” for my car cost us $3,100. You can see how they destroyed it while stealing the house. I worked on this house for 2.5 years, while building up my businesses. The resale value on this highly custom house would easily be $55-60,000. I don’t give a fuck what the idiots on tinyhouselistings.com have to say about that – IT’S THE FUCKING VALUE.
I paid about $3,600 for all the windows. I spend around a thousand dollars JUST on the blackout shades and frame mounts for the blackout shades – for the skylights. Not even shades for all the other 8 windows.
We paid $18,500 for the piece of property you see above. We overpaid, but even after the $3,100 of additional land clearing and tree-trimming, we don’t expect to get more than about $5-10,000 for this property now. We just want to off-load the fucking thing as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a huge loss.
How I’ve Felt About Tiny Houses Until Now
I want to preface this by saying that there have been five people in the tiny house community who have been incredibly supportive and amazing to us. Macy Miller, Carissa, Tess, Pix Monaco, and Ryan & Hannah Corson. There might have been a couple more, but I don’t remember them at the moment.
When we started our Tiny House journey by going to the Tumbleweed Workshop in Boulder, CO, Jay Shafer could not have seemed any less interested if he tried. We learned nothing of actual use at the workshop. No electrical, no plumbing – just “This is how you put a wall together”. YouTube can teach me that, thanks. Terrible experience.
I also bought the Large Ofuro Tub plans from the Four Lights Company. They were WROUGHT with errors. When I sent the almost 15 errors to the company and Jay Shafer (via Google Plus) – I got no response for FOUR MONTHS. They finally gave me a refund, but the didn’t mention anything about fixing the plans. I’ve spoken with one other tiny houser who purchased the plans who also had a hell of a time fixing the errors. Good luck to anyone putting that tub together in the future.
Then there was that time Scott Stewart tried to steal $7,300 from us, when we hired him to build our house. He’s since changed the name of his company to “Stewart’s Lumber Wood Product”, likely because my post on his chicanery is a first-page hit for “Slabtown Customs”.
Then you have all the people on TinyHouseTalk and TinyHouseBlog saying shit like, “I’m on disability and I can’t climb into a loft and I WANT A HOUSE FOR FREE, DAMMIT!” Head over to TinyHouseListings, and you’ll see people saying, “THAT HOUSE CAN’T BE WORTH $70,000 – I COULD GET THE PARTS FOR $7,000.” Be my guest, douchenozzle.
There have been just so many ridiculous people involved with the Tiny House movement that it’s driven me insane. Yes, there are some lovely people involved – a number of you have commented on my YouTube videos and blog posts, and I am very thankful for that; but there is a WAY larger number of self-entitled idiots involved.
Aside from all the assholes involved, I have been incredibly motivated to live in a small footprint, while using as few resources as possible. I know that global warming is destroying the planet, and it’s very likely that we’ll see some devastating effects of it within our lifetime. I was excited to use rain-water catchment, very little electricity, and compost our waste. None of that can happen now.
How I Feel About Tiny Houses Now
Through all the shit we’ve put up with, all of the YouTube comments of, “Your drywall is going to crack,” and “Your walls are not strong enough,” and “That flooring won’t work – just saying”; through all of the hardships I’ve burned through, trying to build up my business while building this house – KILLING myself; through all of the idiots defending Scott Stewart, who tried (and FAILED) to steal $7,300 of our money; through all of this, I knew that if we actually finished the house and lived in it, it would be worth it.
By the way, I’ve also received some incredibly uplifting comments on YouTube, ranging from compliments, to inquiries on how to do what I was doing, etc. Those people are awesome.
But after going through all this shit, AND having our house stolen, I’m done. We’re done. We can’t live in a neighborhood with people who think it’s okay to steal someone’s custom built home, so that neighborhood is out. We don’t have the energy to try and find another spot to build on, so even if the police find our house (which at the moment, they appear to be doing fuck-all), we’re just going to get rid of it. Just to be clear – all of this would be okay, if the last item in the sum wasn’t our house being stolen.
We have such a bad taste in our mouths from this theft that we couldn’t bear to live in a Tiny House now. We really want a dog, and I can imagine leaving the dog in the house while we run an errand, thinking the whole time “Will someone steal the house with the dog inside?” Or what if these crazy crackheads try to steal it while I’m gone and Jessica’s alone? Just can’t do it. And we can’t live anywhere else either, because I spent so long putting my love and effort into this, that I couldn’t possibly build another one.
The online Tiny House Community – with the exception of a small group of wonderful people (maybe even you included!) – is largely a group of miserable human beings who feel overly entitled. I am so sick of their shit.
We’re not slowing down with our plans to live a meaningful life. We won’t be building another tiny house. If our house is retrieved, I’ll be selling it for whatever I can get. I have no idea if the thieves have destroyed it, or if they’re living in it. Perhaps they’re rubbing their own shit on the walls. FUCKERS.
We’re going to move into an apartment that’s much bigger than our tiny house was (650sf), but it’s conveniently located. We’re going to do all the things that this journey was meant to aid us in – we’re going to hang out with our friends more often, get out of the house more often, and relax more often. We have an incredible group of friends and family (but not my crazy fucking family, who I’ve since disowned) in this city, and they’ve all been nothing but incredibly supportive to us during this time.
I was incredibly touched when I saw that a group of people online who don’t even know us, decided to start a GoFundMe campaign, with me and Jessica as the initial recipients. I cried when I saw that. I don’t cry very often, but I cried when I left the site where my house used to be, I cried in between then and now, and I cried when I saw the donation page for us. It’s so incredibly heart-warming to know that people who don’t even know us are willing to donate money to us.
As kind as it is, I don’t want any donations or gifts for our hardship. That money should go to other people who actually can’t afford to get their houses built. Honestly, I would never recommend that anyone build a tiny house on their own, but for those brave enough to go through this hellish work load, more power to you. Suffice it to say, I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to send us monetary gifts, and I’m incredibly stubborn, so I’ll reject it if you do send it. It’s fucked up, but it’s who I am. If you feel as badly as we do about this, please make a donation to the Society of Women Engineers. I got my degree in Electrical Engineering. It’s a fantastic field of study, we need more engineers, and we need more women engineers; so please take the money you would have donated to us, and donate it to a worthy cause that can really make a difference.
I don’t want to answer the obvious troll questions that will be asked, so I will not be enabling comments on this post, or the YouTube video I post. To save you some time, here are the answers to the questions I don’t have the patience to deal with (like the comment seen in the screenshot below):
1) Was your tiny house insured?
No. I had a quote ready to go, and when our house was completely finished (about three weeks from when it was stolen), that quote could have gone into effect. There was no other way to insure it during the construction process. There was no builders insurance available for this type of structure.
2) Did you have a hitch lock / chain the tires / remove the wheels?
No. I pad-locked the chains around the hitch receiver, but a motivated thief would have had bolt cutters and gotten through whatever’s necessary to make the steal. If we removed the wheels, we would have put them in the cabin – which was also broken into during this theft (they broke a window to get in). The tiny house was also not chained to a tree, in case you were wondering.
3) Did you have a GPS tracker in the walls?
What the fuck? NO!
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Edit: I want to acknowledge that I fully understand that more precautions could have been taken to deter this theft. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a hitch lock was, until after the house was stolen and I started researching security for trailers (too late, obviously). The reason I don’t want to hear from other people what I could have done, is because I now know what I could have done (which might have not even prevented the theft), yet I didn’t know before the trailer was stolen. And I feel like shit about it.
So now that those questions are out of the way, there should be no need to blame me or Jessica for our house being stolen. The fault lies completely on the fucktwat that decided to steal it. If you STILL feel inclined to make commentary on this after everything I’ve just said… then I truly feel sorry for you.
We’re still going to live as ethically and responsibly as we possibly can, even without a Tiny House. It’s a shame that new construction is such a toxic, wasteful process, and we ended up only completing the new construction phase of this project, without actually living in the house to offset that at all.
I’m sure I’ll lose some readers due to this project coming to an end. I’ll still be building e-commerce websites, restoring old iPods to audiophile quality, managing flatulence-filtering underwear sales, and aiming for a car-free life.
I’m very sad that I don’t have anything to show for my 2.5 years of learning and construction. I learned how to build a window/door header, how to properly wire a home, how to run plumbing to all necessary outlets. I did about 75% of the taping/floating drywall process. I installed Hardie Plank siding pretty damn well. It nearly drove me crazy, but I did the math and cut out those roof rafters. David and I lifted a heavy-as-fuck, super-expensive Jeld-Wen door up onto the house deck and installed it. It’s such a gorgeous door… 🙁 I spent hours upon hours driving to and from Lowe’s – sometimes three to four round trips per day, just to get all the parts I needed. I spent even more hours in Google SketchUp planning the build, and on YouTube / Google, learning how to do things.
And now, I have absolutely nothing to show for it. I don’t want to be a handyman, so these skills won’t come in handy later in life. I just have absolutely nothing to show the people I care about that I’ve accomplished from this project, all because some one (or people) thought it would be okay to tear that all away from me.
As you can tell from the tone of this post, I’m very obviously still in pain from this. I don’t expect that to ever go completely away, but I’m working at it every day. Thanks for sticking around to read about my Tiny House progress for as long as you have. For all the kind, supportive comments, I’m thankful. For all the people I kept from being scammed by Scott Stewart, I’m grateful. For all the people who have emailed me, mailed me tools, etc (Allen), and taken a genuine interest in this project, I thank you. You definitely made it better, while it lasted.
Don’t let this horrible event discourage you from going out and living your dream, even if that dream is to build a Tiny House. Just lock that shit up as tight as you can, in every fashion you can think of. There’s no such thing as karma, and there are evil people out there, but that’s not going to change any time soon. If you have a true desire to go tiny, make your dream happen. I’m rooting for you.