As the story of the theft of our house has made it to more corners of the internet, the story has become less accurate with every news outlet it hits. I want to clarify a couple points.
Why Did We Even Want a Tiny House?
The main reason we wanted a tiny house was:
So we could build it with cash and be mortgage-free when it’s done, giving us the ability to save massive amounts of money.
There were other smaller reasons, such as the desire to have a space designed by us, completely for us. We also liked that if we ever got tired of a place (after a couple years), we could just move it somewhere else.
To be completely clear, although we are not global warming deniers, our initial motivation to build this house had almost nothing to do with environmentalism. I admit that I don’t know everything about the environment, but I’ve read enough on climate change to know that if we as a planet at least attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change, it can only result in a positive change for everyone. (See Hippie Wastefulness section below)
Price of Materials
I wrote in my first post that we probably put about $35,000 in parts into this tiny house. I told the first reporter I spoke to that it was $25-35,000, but they went with the $35,000 – likely because I wrote it myself.
Since writing that, I’ve tried to go over all the expenses in my mind, and it’s incredibly likely I put out too high of a number as that initial estimate. I tracked all of my purchases with myLowes, and I’ll be going through every single one of those purchases and adding it to the initial spreadsheet I created, to find out exactly how much I’ve spent on this house.
I’m guessing the number will be closer to, or less than, $25,000 – but give me a couple days, and I’ll actually add it all up to see what the grand total is.
Duration of Theft
Some people have been surprised that it “only took 24 hours to recover the house.” We reported the house stolen on December 20, 2015, and it was recovered on January 2, 2015. It was gone for about two weeks.
Why We’re “Quitting”
The Police are just about finished with their investigation, but it’s not clear yet if anyone in the neighborhood our house was stolen from will be arrested. I’ve spoken with other people from the same neighborhood who’ve said they have also had multiple thefts over the past couple years. We can’t continue to build up our Tiny House just to have it vandalized or stolen from on a regular basis.
As Jessica said in her blog post, over the past 2.5 years, we’ve realized that everything we’ve been working towards has been put off by the building of this house. Meeting with friends, having a garden, having a lower electric bill – all of these things can be accomplished in shared housing (apartment).
We don’t have it in us to find another location (and do all the proper vetting) to put our house at now, so I’ll simply be finishing it out while it’s stored at a secure storage facility. We’re not quitting the Tiny lifestyle, we’re just not going to live in this house right now any more.
Why it has Taken 2.5 Years So Far
Although the commentary has been 99% supportive, I’ve received criticism at the 2.5 years it’s taken to get the build as far as it is now. For the past three years, I have been building my business from scratch. I’m an entrepreneur with a specialty in web development and e-commerce business management. I have had to juggle multiple jobs while building this house, and it was often difficult to make the decision between working toward another gig or going out to the house to work on it.
I’m not playing the victim at all, with regard to my employment. I love being self-employed, and I love the challenges these three years have brought me. It’s been incredibly difficult to build my business up to a sustainable level, but I have, and I got a damn large portion of a Tiny House built during that time too.
There have been multiple-month long periods during this process where we made no progress because I had to earn more money. If we had all the money we needed and at least half of each week free, I might have been able to finish it in 6-9 months.
I fully accept that the building stage of a Tiny House is incredibly wasteful. Any new construction is incredibly wasteful. Living 40 minutes from a major city will likely cause you to drive more than you normally would, which is also wasteful (although I am self-employed, and I work from home). So yes, I fully understand how wasteful this build has been thus far.
I also bought the majority of my materials from Lowe’s or Amazon. I’ve read that I made an amateur move by doing that, but I haven’t gotten any recommendations of where I should have gone, and I still don’t know. I only used those sources because I know them.
Our end goal is to live somewhere in a big city with fantastic public transportation, where we don’t need a car. The residents of New York are some of the most environmentally friendly people in the US – even if they don’t want to be – because of all the shared housing, public transit, etc. We will eventually live in a city like that (anywhere in the world) so that we can get rid of our car and have shared walls for more efficient heating/cooling.
I try to be as eco-responsible as I can, which is nowhere near perfect. I drive a diesel car that gets 48mpg, so I use less fuel. Does it still burn fuel? Sure does. I am still contributing to pollution, but I’m doing my best to contribute less.
The Future of the Tiny House
Edit: Our plan now is to sell the tiny house in its current condition. I’ll have another post up soon with more details (about the house, and explaining why we’re selling).
At this point, my plan is to continue building the house until it’s completely finished. No, that two-tone paint scheme was not planned – it’s just not finished being painted yet. Once it’s finished, perhaps the neighborhood our property is in will be safe again, and we can put it back there (assuming arrests have been made).
If that doesn’t work out, perhaps we’ll find another place to put it, where we can rent it out on Airbnb. We also might just sell it when it’s completely finished. The thing about tiny houses is, they’re incredibly customized to the person who designed them, so this design might not work for someone else.
The main point is, we don’t know what the future of our Tiny House is. The only thing I do know is, it will not go to waste.
I was recently told that one of my defining factors is that I go into things being consciously incompetent. I had no idea how to build a house before I started this, and now I have a much better idea. Learning new things is my number one, favorite hobby. I didn’t know how to change the oil in my car before I did. Same with brakes, suspension, fuel injectors, thermostat, on and on. I didn’t know how to set up an Ubuntu email server before I did it.
I always want to learn how to do more and more things, and the simple fact that I always start out consciously incompetent explains completely why I probably spent more money than I should have for the parts on this Tiny House. Even if I did, though, I did it to learn how to do something, and that’s what makes me happy.
I will try to answer some of the comments on this post, so please post any questions you have.