A Tiny House Fire

tiny house fire

About a week ago a friend of Dee Williams, Kim Langston had her nearly completed tiny house burn down. Dee wrote to the tiny house blogging community to see if we could help in any way and to let you know about it.

Dee says: The house was in the construction phase, and while it wasn’t quite complete, it was close enough that she felt certain she’d be living in it by September or October. It was completely destroyed in the fire and Kim didn’t have insurance to cover the loss.

Dee continues: I’ve been so racked by this incident, it is so sad. And its brought up a couple of things for me: one is that I’d like to learn more about what sort of insurance options are out there for little hand-built structures. Houses on wheels or built on the ground. I’ve done some searching and it seems there may be some tools but the loopholes are intense; you aren’t insured, for example, if the structure is on the highway or not insured if you don’t personally own the property where it sits.

If you have insurance, or have heard of an option for these structures, could you please contact me at PAD.DeeWilliams@gmail.com. Once I have information pulled together, I’ll offer it back to our tiny house community so we can all understand what’s available. If we discover that traditional insurance is not available, it may be time to start our own Cooperative such as an organization that will help cover catastrophic loss.

Dee also told us that Kim and her friends are pulling together a Kickstarter or Indigogo fund that will help her pay down the debt she incurred through the fire and maybe even help support the dream of re-building.

If you’d like to help Kim get a jump on those fund raising efforts you can donate money through PayPal. I personally am going to donate and will also report on the official fund raising story when that kicks off.

A lot of you have been asking what caused the fire? I have just found out it was a barn fire behind where the tiny house was being constructed.

Here is a photo of the home before the fire.

tiny house

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Dennis - July 28, 2012 Reply

DAMN That was gonna be a nice one too from the look of it. Very sad.

Mason - July 28, 2012 Reply

Tragic.
If I could ask… what was the cause of the fire?

    VATinyWannabe - July 28, 2012 Reply

    Yes,

    I’m interested as well. I’m sure it’s not pleasant to talk about but there’s potentially a LOT of education in this.

    Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 28, 2012 Reply

    Dee, correct me if Im wrong, but: The large barn/workshop that the tiny house was parked next to (while getting finishing touches) burned. The tiny house caught fire because of that. I don’t know the cause of the barn fire.

    I think about this stuff alot too. Just finished a section on fire risks in my book-in-progress, when I heard about this a day later. I spend many a day thinking about how to head off a fire (part of it is the fact that I keep a wood shop AND a welding rig — an incendiary combination!)

    Kim is an amazing soul, and perhaps we can all learn some things from this event. I am all ears for one….

      Dee Williams - July 29, 2012 Reply

      Abel has it right. The fire started in a nearby barn. The fire investigation is on-going. The little house was caught up in the massive blaze and destroyed along with the barn. Thanks to all of you who have responded! We appreciate the support. Dee

        Jimmie Grimes - August 4, 2012 Reply

        Why would you not be able to insure a tiny house as a mobile home. It qualifies as one because it is on a registered vehicle with plates. I am not an insurance agent, but if the state of Texas says that a broken down mobile home in the middle of the pasture is a motor vehicle because the plates were renewed each year, then I would think that several of the companies would issue insurance to let it travel on the road. It could also be considered an RV which is insurable.

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural - July 28, 2012 Reply

I donated. It’s not much. It was the balance in my PayPal account, but every few bucks adds up. Sorry to hear about it. Very said. What a cute house beforehand. I wish her the best to get it all going again.

jim - July 28, 2012 Reply

Sorry for the loss, I have always been concerned about a safety feature or two being part of the movement but feel this is a timely reminder of my concern. I am a huge fan of the tiny movement and being a building official I would like to offer some safety tips to those who live in these little wonders. 1, Have a working smoke detector in the unit. 2, Concider installing a sky light in the ceiling above the sleeping loft that will open for egress during a fire. 3,Get a fire extiguisher for the loft and lower portion of the unit. My wife and I enjoy all the photos and post and are looking forward to the day that we can build ours.

    Cyndi - July 28, 2012 Reply

    Good points, Jim! I have always though I wouldn’t want a loft sleeping area because of climbing a ladder. I guess, deep down, my unease might also have been the fire aspect!

    So sorry Kim!

    Dragonfly Debb - August 4, 2012 Reply

    @Jim, excellent advice! Escape route from the top of the tiny house and two fire extinquishers plus the alarm. These should be on every Tiny House Check List. Oh, and maybe one of those fold-up ladders in the loft too.

Patty Lynn - July 28, 2012 Reply

Sorry about your loss I know how devestating that can be since my 14×70 mobile home burned to the ground. But you might want to check with Foremost Insurance and check with the Good Sam Club for insurance. Once your home is built have it checked out to make sure all is up to the Code laws in your state for RVs. If it meets the Code specifications for your state as far as plumbing/electrical wiring etc and it’s licensed you should be able to get insurance once it is built. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions-I am a real estate agent in Colorado and also live in a 10 X 55 mobile home so have a working knowledge of what you might need. God bless!

    Robin - August 5, 2012 Reply

    I am also in Colorado, in Colorado Springs, and still in the construction phase of my home. When the Waldo Canyon fire jumped the mountain into the Springs I really had to think about fire destroying everything I’d already spent most of my money on. I’ve been searching for insurance since then. I’ve looked for construction insurance and for insurance for once my home is completed.

    At the time of the fire my home was still jacked up, I was in Salt Lake City and it wasn’t possible to move my home out of the way of the fire. When I returned home it took me three days to get it ready to move – which I did, though it’s back in the same spot now.

    I tried Good Sam Club and USAA (where I have other insurance) and a bunch of others and was turned down by all for both kinds of insurance because the house was not manufactured by a company that builds RVs or motor homes or park models.

    I too am very interested in if anyone has been successful in finding insurance or in creating a group to do insurance for this particular application.

      Anne - August 5, 2012 Reply

      I have heard of no one who could insure a portable wood structure without fudging the truth on its composition, etc… apparently failing to understand that that sort of ‘misinformation’ will make the policy null and void should it ever actually be needed.

      As I said a few days ago, there is a trade off. Best we accept it in the first place, then we are less devastated when something bad happens.

jipsi - July 28, 2012 Reply

As a couple others posted, I’m interested in knowing what CAUSED the fire…?
I ask because, I am a smoker (no apologies or pleas for understanding, it is what it is) and I am ultra-careful about making sure there are no ‘accidents’… I get enough frak for smoking in the first place, I don’t want to die in a fire caused by my own bad habit to top off the irony!
However, there are also other potential danger variables, particular to ‘tiny house living’… using space heaters, for instance. Propane fridge and stove… electric hot plate or camping (kerosene) stove… Any poorly (or unprofessionally) installed wiring could cause even a small short, a spark, and there it goes… highly-condensed living also means many tightly-packed cubby-holes, even a few things in a tiny space can be a cluster-f*** that would – COULD, I mean – be a potential fire hazard…
Just curious as to the details, please, and hoping this is not a ‘sensitive issue’ in this case…?

Sharing details helps others to pay more specific attention to their own habits and house-keeping, and if that helps even ONE other tiny-house dweller to avoid losing all to a fire somewhere down the proverbial road, then it would be well worth it, right?

Jenna - July 28, 2012 Reply

Seems like we need to do a barn raising! If all the monetary and physical resources come together, it would be a great small house community event to all pitch in to get it built in a small amount of time. What do you think?

jipsi - July 28, 2012 Reply

PS: Not to mention the other potential ‘combustible’ situations involved in the construction phase (as Dee’s was)… I would suggest one NEVER ‘store’ the paint/stain/thinner etc. IN the tiny house being built, but ELSEWHERE… same with cloths, brushes, sponges, and other materials used in staining/painting… keeping sawdust and frass swept out completely upon leaving… having a window or vent opened so as to keep heat from building up inside (and these past couple months, throughout the midwest especially, heat has been a major issue for all of us!) but DON’T leave a fan or such on and unsupervised, etc., etc….
Truly a sad loss for Dee. My heart goes out to her…

jipsi - July 28, 2012 Reply

Sorry, I meant Dee’s FRIEND (I KNOW it was not Dee’s tiny house)…

Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 28, 2012 Reply

Electrical wiring and appliance malfunctions cause ALOT of fires. As an electrician AND a tiny house builder, I would hate to see anyone lose a house to this.

If any of you DIYers are doing your own wiring and would like to ask me a question, just drop me an email! Even send me a picture.

I have re-engineered many residential (and sometimes commercial) electrical systems in the town where I live, and it is sobering to see how shaky things often are by the time someone calls an electrician. Whew!

alice h - July 29, 2012 Reply

Just having a fire extinguisher is a good idea but knowing how to actually use it is a really good idea. There are different types, not all good for every fire. If nobody is around when a fire starts they won’t do much good but a little quick action can sometimes save the day. Check out the videos on youtube or wherever. The key point is to aim at the base of the fire, not the higher flames. Have more than one extinguisher available and easily accessible (shoved at the back of a closet full of junk doesn’t count)and if you do sleep on a higher floor make sure you have not just an opening to get out but a way to get to the ground too. It can be a long way down and there is potential for serious injury. Also check the wires on your plugs and adapters regularly. The other day I found bare copper wires (almost touching)on a DVD player adapter right where they come out of the transformer end. Luckily it’s only 9V at this point or it would likely have shorted earlier and possibly started a fire.

Paul - July 29, 2012 Reply

Very sad; it would’ve been nice. Hope you get your dream back on the rails again soon!

Meg and Joe - July 29, 2012 Reply

Wow so sad for her loss. If someone asked me what was the worst thing about living in our tiny house I would have to say the inability to insure it.
I think about fires all the time. Our house was designed with fires in mind. Smoke detectors, co2 alarms, propane alarms, and multiple fire extinguishers are a must, but I also designed the loft windows to be large enough to escape if needed. Even with all these precautions insurance companies will not touch it.
The best advice I can give is to turn your propane off when away, to have emergency shut offs for every device that uses it, and have professionals install all the gas and electrical lines. If you’re going to be away for long periods of time be sure to unplug the house completely. I know in this case this is after the fact, and I hope she can get it back on track. Even though this must be hugely heart breaking the fact remains that in the first year of living in it, it will pay you back in full. Good luck to you.

Meg and Joe - July 29, 2012 Reply

Just found out that yes, it was a barn fire.

William Kastrinos - July 29, 2012 Reply

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was a barn fire, not a tiny house fire. In addition, if the barn was insured, you might have coverage at least as “possessions” lost in the fire. I would add to Jim’s list above, A Carbon Monoxide detector is extremely important in a tiny house. I personally detest skylights (why cut a hole in a perfect steel roof that has to be maintained now) but the gable should be able to have a window large enough for egress. Getting out still might be beyond the capability of many of us, age, physical limitations, etc. We do not personally recommend sleeping in the loft, but many of our customers do. Two additional comments. If your car is insured with Allstate, Allstate has insured us as an RV in the past. So you are covered on the road, or wherever you are parked. One bit of bad news, your trailer might be trash. Steel loses the ability to hold a load at 800 deg F. If you are going to drive it on the road, I would be concerned. Find someone who understands steel to carefully inspect it, especially around spring hangers. The springs are most definitely shot as well, because of the heat. Sorry to add that to your problems. For the most part, I believe tiny houses are much safer than RVs, fire risk, and safer than many old houses, because modern wiring and procedures should be used. No excuse to not have a modern panel and proper size wiring. And remember, most homes will not have a ground rod, so RV procedures must be followed “open neutral” is necessary, make sure your electrician understands what that is. Very different from normal house wiring. The “whites” are not put into the ground bar in the panel. Probably too much information, but wanted to weigh in. Bill Kastrinos Tortoise Shell Home LLC

    Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 29, 2012 Reply

    Good points Bill.

    Don’t feel shy to hire an electrician or gas technician. Even if only for a consult (or to check your work.) It is cheap insurance!

    And another idea: Keep a coiled hose attached to a spigot and ready to turn on at or near your tiny house. This can be especially important if you are far from a fire department. Another off-grid trick is to keep a second large fire extinguisher outside your tiny house, and ready to get to.

    Abel

    Rebecca - August 4, 2012 Reply

    I agree, the barn fire insurance should cover this small home as well. Worth checking into at least.

    D Whit - August 4, 2012 Reply

    I believe the operative phrase here is that THE BARN caught on fire and the trailer home was a casualty of that misfortune. I would ask if the persons that were completing your trailer and the persons that owned the barn are one and the same.

    This will be a long road with so many questions to be answered before before any type of insurance coverage can be applied.

    I am very sorry for the individual.
    The lesson for others here is that insurance coverage and the fine print must be be understood BEFORE a loss can occur. There is a lot of fine print involved in construction site coverages and additional structures and contracted services such as this. It is an unfortunate parasite on the process of building.

Matt - July 29, 2012 Reply

Hopefully, this fire is a little “wake-up call” to those of you interested in building or buying your own tiny house on wheels.

If you are going to spend time, money and effort building something that you are going to sell or live in…don’t you think it might be prudent to call your insurance company and see what they might offer for coverage when it is complete?

Same goes for people who buy these things from a “builder”. We sure do see a lot of them for sale on here and one would certainly need to ask themselves if they think that insurance might be something to consider when spending $20,000 or $30,000 or $40,000!

Many insurance companies offer RV policies and it only makes sense considering all the other possibilities (theft, arson, vandalism, weather damage, etc)

    William - July 29, 2012 Reply

    Not only to arrange for insurance, but to investigate building materials and techniques that minimize risk of flash fire damage. In particular, consider “Rock Wool” insulation and a layer of sheetrock between the plywood sheathing and the exterior ( and for that matter the interior also) finish. It may not stop a fire once started, but it will surely slow it down, giving you a better chance to respond with an extinguisher which should be mounted in a central prominent easily accessible location.

      Meg and Joe - July 29, 2012 Reply

      The problem with sheetrock is two fold. First the weight is a lot more than tongue and groove pine per square foot and secondly it is far more prone to crack during movement.
      As for allstate or any other insurance company insuring your tiny house…forget it. RV’s are built to safety specs predetermined by insurance companies, a tiny house is not. You can get homeowners insurance on it if you put it on a permanent foundation but that defeats the whole reason for putting it on a trailer. I’ve talked with over a hundred insurance companies and no one will insure it, be it a large corporation or small.

        Matt - July 29, 2012 Reply

        “RV’s are built to safety specs predetermined by insurance companies, a tiny house is not. You can get homeowners insurance on it if you put it on a permanent foundation but that defeats the whole reason for putting it on a trailer. I’ve talked with over a hundred insurance companies and no one will insure it, be it a large corporation or small.”

        EXACTLY!!!

        Any wonder why these things don’t sell like hotcakes? Nobody in their right wound would pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for something they could not insure unless money was not an issue for them.

        Until they come made by a company that can comply with insurance regulations, requirements and a multitude of other liability issues…then it will make sense. They will also have to compete in pricing with the market and that is the biggest challenge.

          Dee Williams - July 29, 2012 Reply

          HI,
          Thanks for offering your input. I’m looking into insurance options and will contact Kent and other little house bloggers about the findings. Until then, I’d just offer that it is important that any house is built to meet the building code and RV/Marine code for fire safety. There’s great information out there on how to do that. The challenge is that even if you build to code, an insurance company may not be able to cover your little house because it wasn’t formally ‘manufactured’ by an RV or Travel Trailer company. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know what i find. Dee

Hazel - July 29, 2012 Reply

The owner of the presumably insured barn should have insurance that would cover the tiny house. Dee’s friend should start there.

april - July 29, 2012 Reply

Hi Dee,
Once you have some action items of how to put together such an organization in order to get insurance (or if you don’t have time to do that let me know too), please feel free to delegate to me, I am also very concerned and would like to help make this happen ASAP. Thanks for initiating.

kimk - July 29, 2012 Reply

I’m so sorry. I’m sure that feels horrible, not only the cost, but all the labor and effort involved as well. My first thought was checking into the barn insurance as well. It might cover it. I would love to offer help in rebuilding, but I live too far away, so I can donate a little.

Kyle - July 29, 2012 Reply

Perhaps it would have been more tactful to ask the tiny house community what they thought about taking up donations before setting up a PayPal account. Is it just me or are we missing a lot of information here other than a dramatic photo of a charred trailer? Another thing to consider is if the news of any other tiny house being tragically destroyed would have made “headlines” or if this is getting special attention only because it happened to a friend of Dee Williams who also happens to be a prominent figure in our community? Don’t get me wrong helping people is great, but personally I’d rather it be our idea.

    Irene - July 30, 2012 Reply

    Since this is someone who lost their home, I would ask for a little compassion. I don’t think it’s because she’s a friend of Dee Williams, either. As I recall, a few months ago there were a bunch of college kids who hadn’t even built a home who were requesting money to start one, and it seemed really scammy. This is someone who poured her resources into a house and then lost the home because of a disaster. If you don’t want to help, then don’t, but saying the request should have come this way or that way does not improve the situation.

    dave - July 31, 2012 Reply

    Kyle was just bringing up a point-not making accusations…and brave to do it. But what a shame it is to have to be brave to speak your mind. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

      Kyle - July 31, 2012 Reply

      Idk… maybe I didn’t express myself clearly and even though I don’t see my comment as particularly brave I certainly wasn’t expecting such hostility. Just so were all clear I was only expressing my personal opinion so can we put down the pitchforks and torches? Dave gets it… Nothing between these lines.

        Sandy - August 4, 2012 Reply

        I get it, too. Sorry you caught flak for voicing a sincere opinion. This is my first time on this blog, and of makes me not want to post here anymore. Yikes.

Meg and Joe - July 29, 2012 Reply

The crappy thing is our home makes an RV look like the junk it is. Cheap materials, poor insulation and good god they are tacky, but hey at least you can insure it…awesome.
I knew I would not have insurance when I decided to build mine. I knew I would not have a warranty, support or a company nearby that could fix any issues that arose. So why the hell did I build one?
Simple. I could cover all those things myself. I am my own support. Even if it burned completely to the ground I could build another one. Granted it helps to make that money back quickly in the time you live in it, and in their case this didn’t happen, but it sounds like they are determined so it will. The knowledge they learned from their first build makes the second even easier.
I know the money might not be regained instantly, but I can tell you from experience this is STILL the best decision you can make. In the end you will be rewarded. You will make that money back and quickly once you are moved in. I lived in mine while it was still in the rough, just to make money more quickly. We had no interior walls, siding, electric, toilet, running water, heating, or internet. I was able to raise the last $15,000 I needed in just 3 months time by doing this. It wasn’t easy, but nothing worth doing is. If mine burnt to the ground tomorrow would I start another? Hell yes I would!

    Matt - July 29, 2012 Reply

    “I was able to raise the last $15,000 I needed in just 3 months time by doing this”

    $5,000 per month is what you saved by “living” somewhere with no toilet, electricity, running water or heat?

    Maybe I’m missing something…where does it cost $5,000 to live WITH all those things each month?

      Meg and Joe - July 30, 2012 Reply

      Our average cost of living per month in NY was not too far off that mark (hell my electric bill in the winter was $800 alone). Here in MT it was less but that’s not the point. If you are hell bent on building it and 2 working class people can move into it, saving almost all their income, it is possible and I’m proof.
      I’m betting they are feeling more than a little discouraged, so I’m just letting them know it is possible to bounce back from this. Even if it takes them longer than it did us, living in it for free (if its possible) will help them on their way.

      2kids2cats - July 30, 2012 Reply

      I’m in So Cal, and my living expenses including mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities are easily $4500. Without those I could save $5k a month no problem.

        Matt - July 30, 2012 Reply

        WOW ! I had no idea that people still paid that kind of money to “live”. I should have been a banker…LOL

        My monthly expenses are $1200 that is EVERYTHING. I live in a suburb of Denver and rent. So not only do I save on all the extra BS that mortgage slaves have to adhere to, I have been saving to get out of here next spring.

        Then again, no wife, no kids, no credit cards, no TV, no booze, no gambling, etc.

        Already have 5 acres and then outta here!

          Sandy - August 4, 2012 Reply

          I am REALLy impressed, and it takes a lot for me to say that. Kudos to you for having the wisdom and self-discipline to do this. This would be pretty much my preferred method, too, but I DO have kids, and an elderly mom that I live with. Still, we do what we can. Thanks for sharing your info.

      Abel Zyl Zimmerman - July 30, 2012 Reply

      Good point. Monthly expenses to keep a rather small 950 sq ft house (not including mortgage or land tax) in Olympia average $750.

      Monthly expenses to keep my tiny house (not including what it might cost to rent a place to park it, or land tax if you own a lot) might average $120

      The difference in energy alone (avg/mo) is: $200/ conventional house vs. $23/tiny house.

      That does help, even if you can’t obtain insurance.

    Rebecca - August 4, 2012 Reply

    I pay $640/month on 14 acres… nearly paid off after 5 years. I dropped a 660 sf former school portable on it and made an open style home. I put a kitchen in one end next to an enclosed bath… fireplace in the living area, and “closed” off the bedroom with bookcases creating a small library and entryway. I covered the back of them with fabric and left the area above open for air circulation. This building cost $5k moved and setup. I’ve spent a couple k more on nice fixtures… bought a corner jacuzzi for the bath for $80 on craigslist, etc. It is beautiful and all I’ll ever need. For now, the economic crash has me living elsewhere for a job… but as soon as I get it paid off, I’ll be free. A home and acreage with no mortgage is a thing of beauty. If Americans are no longer free, it is because they owe to much to the banksters. I’m looking at building a shadehouse (Texas) on the west side. I lived in it a year, and was content. I strongly urge you to buy a piece of land anywhere in the U.S. away from the major cities, which are no longer livable. This is a beautiful country… why mortgage your life for 30 years? My son and daughterinlaw are looking at bringing in a bigger house for their family and living on mom’s acreage also. They are almost 40 and tired of a $350k mortgage in Seattle… when they have enough cash for an entire house with 100k leftover. Many states have small towns and land that are an easy shift. Start a business. Let go of the KuKorpKlan.

      Novia - August 4, 2012 Reply

      Hi Rebecca–your house sounds great–and it’s paid for! congrats!
      i would love to do similar but i live/rent in so cal. i’m older woman and can’t afford to retire. thinking of going back to south carolina–may be easier to do there. how did you get started? thanks for any info you can provide.
      best,
      Novia

Sharon K - July 29, 2012 Reply

interesting about the insurance that covers RV’s not covering these. do double check with local agents on that. Also, as an earlier poster suggested, check with local agents about mobile home coverage. we own a standard suburban red brick ranch house, a mobile home in a mobile home park, and a small 13 foot trailer (funfunder x-139, made to compete with something like the tab trailers) and our insurance will cover all of them. however, they are all “normal items” by insurance standards, whatever that is. we used to own a 100 year old cabin on a forest service lease, with no well allowed, and our insurance covered that also. there were some funny items they wanted to check, two sources of heat for one, but they did cover it. we had a wood cook stove, a wood heat stove, and a propane heater (never used) but that covered that part of the check list they had. the other items made sense — they wanted a fire-resistant roof for one.

Rebecca B. A. R. - July 29, 2012 Reply

I wonder, if you don’t live on your own land, could you get renter’s insurance in an amount to cover at least the rebuilding materials for the house/as well as the contents? I would think that if there was insurance on the barn, that it would cover all the “materials” that were on the trailer (no one would have to know that it were a “house.” This, of course, would not cover any labor costs, but at least materials. I would think that insuring the trailer would allow for insurance of any “materials” damaged while it was on the road, too. Another possibility, is the tiny house community could create their own cooperative, community insurance group, either profit or nonprofit, (a little business idea for someone!), and they could insure each other through payments into an account, etc. I know of health care insurances that are somewhat like this for major health care issues, but all the small stuff is on the person–kind of like catastrophic health insurance–which covers the hospital stay/appendix surgery (after a deductible), but not a visit to the doctor for a sore throat.

Jackie kohn - July 29, 2012 Reply

It seems to me that the barn insurance should cover the small house….the home owner of the barn should check. You may have to initiate a suit to get the insurance co. to pay but it would be worth it.

barb - July 29, 2012 Reply

Yes, start with insurance that covers the barn.

MBee - July 29, 2012 Reply

I am so sorry this happened to you!! Sending love from Oregon…and best wishes for getting back into a new tiny house ASAP.

MBee - July 29, 2012 Reply

Oh, and Kent, could you please keep us posted when they get their Indigogo or Kickstarter find going on this? Thanks!!

Mike - July 30, 2012 Reply

If the Tiny House Community is indeed a community then perhaps we can self-insure? I can’t imagine it would cost much as the insured dwellings are not that costly to replace, and the incidence of loss doesn’t seem that frequent. Could be inexpensive.

Thoughts?

Corby - July 30, 2012 Reply

I donated a small amount. Even if insurance covers the loss, I think it’s a good idea to show support.

I normally don’t weigh in on things about which I have no clue, but does anyone know if a tiny house insurance cooperative is a feasible idea for future insurance purposes? Sounds like the big wigs aren’t too interested in the movement. I don’t live in a tiny house yet — tiny apartment, yes — but I’d be willing to support something that addressed the needs of the movement.

Connie Dunton - July 30, 2012 Reply

I work for a large insurance company, and while I know that each and every company and policy could be different, it is highly possible that the owner of the barn would have coverage for anything of personal property that the barn fire destroyed. If it were my small house, that is the first thing I would pursue!

    D Whit - August 4, 2012 Reply

    One of the problems in a situation such as this will be the determination of wether the property owner was engaged in a commercial for profit enterprise on the property.
    Anytime personal or residential has commercial overtones, there must be insurance riders and additional premiums paid….if the underwriter will even assume the risk. This is not a grey area.

kevin klose - July 30, 2012 Reply

I read a couple peoples’ comments that are negative. I would build a small house with every cent I had and take a chance not insuring it. At least I built it with heart & soul. If it burned down tomorrow I would do it all over again! Its not that we are careless and crazy…we are sick and tired of all the city crap & regulations. If more and more get built then maybe rules will change. The Tiny House Movement is gaining attention. Im donating. At least she will build again and this one will be even more SPECIAL. If your going to sit there and post stupid negative comments please stop reading Tiny House stuff…go on the McMansion sites

    Custom Built Surrey - July 30, 2012 Reply

    Very well said, just needs funds to start again and build a new one.

    Matt - July 30, 2012 Reply

    I would suggest that you watch the movie “Garbage Warrior” before you start assuming that critical comments are meant to be non-instructive.

    http://youtu.be/YrMJwIedrWU

    The bureaucratic and political aspects regarding ANY type of non-conventional movement will always have hurdles. If you want to build or buy an atypical dwelling, be prepared for the rest of the world to take a bite out of you

House on Wheels UK - July 30, 2012 Reply

And by the way, so did I 🙂

ernest - July 30, 2012 Reply

If tiny houses could be insured then soon they would be regulated and inspected. The awesome part about tiny houses is that you can bypass all of that stuff. You can’t have it both ways, and I think being able to bypass bureaucracy and regulation is more valuable than an insurance policy.

    Anne - August 1, 2012 Reply

    Well said ernest, and I heartily agree.

    Good luck to you Kim. Hopefully if the barn insurance doesn’t help you rebuild, you have more set aside to add to the help from the THC… There is a trade off and it is why the community is needed, to stand together and help each other when they have the ability to do so. This is an extreme situation… We must all learn from it.

JCinCT - July 30, 2012 Reply

Unfortunately, at some point,all of these lovely legal problems and regulations are things that will have to be dealt with and figured out…..including where one is able to even build and put a tiny or small dwelling…..and yes, I think we are going to have to break a lot of ground, because even the guys in suits and shirtsleeves, are not clear, or certain what to do when it comes to these small dwellings which are not RVs They are hard put also as to what category they may fall under,.. and so, we very well, or, most likely will have to take the initiative, to define the needs, set standards,and point the way for the small dwelling community, either on an independent path or one that seeks to blend, and open new options within the existing structure of regulations, building codes, and insurance offerings. Definitely rebuild Kim, and I’m in agreement, that most likely, the barns insurance, or homeowners liability insurance should cover destruction of someone’s personal property. Good Luck

Brook - July 30, 2012 Reply

Kim , what a sad loss. It looked like a beauty. I hope that you can rebuild.
Abe and Bill, thanks for your professional input. I am a builder and I still decided not to have gas heat and only 12v electricity in my tiny sleeping cabin. I have a separate tiny kitchen and bath in a container conversion with the utilities and mechanicals safely isolated.
To the community, is there interest in micro investing. For example, many people could pool to loan Kim the funds she needs, which she would then repay with a fair interest rate. I , for one, could see myself investing and borrowing from this type of exchange. I would micro invest if I was getting 4% return and I would gladly pay 6-10% for funds to complete the first phase of my tiny house development. A well developed exchange might allow people to invest in a variety of ways. I have an apprentice who has worked in exchange for a tiny tea house which I built earlier. Our exchange continues as he works and learns to finish it. It sits on my land and saves him money. He can invest in something tangible. With some trust and hard work we can find ways to invest and borrow in ways that make sense.

JD - July 30, 2012 Reply

It’s too bad the owner of the property didn’t add the tiny house to his or her insurance as an accessory building while it was on the property. It has been my experience that storage buildings and sheds are covered in that manner and it might have covered the tiny house in this instance. Other tiny house owners might look into this as an option.

Otherwise, it would awesome to start some kind of insurance cooperative just for tiny dwellings. Unfortunately, dealing with all the complexities and diversity of insurance laws in 50 different states would make this rather difficult to implement on a nationwide scale. However, I think it could be accomplished at a community level, like farmers that have joined together in certain areas to form mutual insurance companies and credit unions. Heck, the tiny house community needs both, so let’s get started!

    JD - July 31, 2012 Reply

    I wanted to add to my previous post that coverage as an accessory building likely would not be possible if the tiny house was occupied; it would probably only be a solution while the building is under construction.

    This insurance problem is nothing new; my spouse and I tried to get coverage once for a bus conversion that homemade by a master craftsman (and probably done to a much higher standard than any RV factory-built). That was fifteen years ago and it seems little has changed.

Meg and Joe - July 31, 2012 Reply

By definition my wife and I are considered homeless. No one involved in the housing market be it banks, insurers, or zoning committees consider our tiny home a house. The whole point of all these regulations that are enforced on us has to do with control of not only our lives, but also our money.
These systems were put into place well before any of us were born. The average American home was much smaller just 100 years ago. I live in Montana and there are thousands of abandoned homesteaders houses littering the landscape. None of these houses are much larger than mine, and most of them housed large families.
Now its a novelty for anyone to live in such a house. Dee became a celebrity because people thought she was crazy for living in what was once a normal dwelling in this country (no disrespect to Dee, in fact shes was our greatest inspiration).
It’s so sad the American public believes so fervently what they are told to believe. The fact that insurance companies don’t even know what to do with us is proof that the system is rigged. It angers me that these girls are left to dangle after seeing how much work and money they put into their beautiful home. God forbid anyone in this country tries to think outside the box. In most counties in the world this house would be considered a palace. Don’t believe me? Google “slum cities” and click on images. You will be appalled.

    kevin klose - July 31, 2012 Reply

    I agree with that 100%. Love your tiny house by the way, have it saved on my favorites!

    Matt - July 31, 2012 Reply

    100% Correct!

    All tied into property taxes, construction industry, utilities, banks, etc…

Nordica Friedrich - July 31, 2012 Reply

I am SO sorry to hear about this! What an adorable little trailer-top home.. a tremendous loss, even though it was just a tiny house. 🙁

Sad News In The Tiny House Community | Dreadnaught Darling - August 3, 2012 Reply

[…] article has been circulating in the Tiny House Community that just broke my heart (Thanks Kent!).  Kim […]

Barbara - August 4, 2012 Reply

Just donated, wish it could be more.

Edie - August 4, 2012 Reply

Kim
It’s heartbreaking to hear of your misfortune. Do not despair and look at the positive – you were not in it and you are safe and alive. The universe has a way of giving it back to you and I just made a donation. If everyone gives a little you will have the money to rebuild in no time at all.
Good luck and stay well,
Edie

Ben - August 4, 2012 Reply

It travels on wheels .So it should be covered by your auto insurance anyway . Id try that .A trailer of any sort is mobile pulled by your Auto, like any boat , Camper etc,its not on a permenate foundation and neither is a camper or a trailer of any sort it’s still covered .And can fall under your home owners possibly . It hooks to your Auto for travel so it must fall under coverage.

Kate - August 4, 2012 Reply

Sorry for Kim’s loss – I hope she’ll be able to rebuild before too long! I also worry about fire since my tiny house is in the completion stages and I live in the drought stricken West. I am planning to paint my exterior of the house with a fireproof paint – this may be of use for many of us. One of the websites for this paint is: firefree.com

D Whit - August 4, 2012 Reply

I would advise Ms. Langston and the site operators of Tiny House to pull this thread until the financials and insurance questions have been answered.
We are all a bit premature to be posting on this as the datails are very sketchy now and could hurt, instead of help the person who needs help.
This is considered a public forum and there are issues of discovery that could be compromised here.

Judy R - August 4, 2012 Reply

Left a small donation. Not much but if everyone gave just a little, it might add up. I wonder if the barn owner’s insurance would cover anything?

bill - August 4, 2012 Reply

Dee i am sorry about your trailer , but having no insurence is your fault..why would you ask people to send you money?? it is crazy….

Debbie Payne - August 4, 2012 Reply

Sorry to hear of your loss. The barn that it was beside was that yours or someone else’s? The reason I ask if they had insurance, that insurance should cover your tiny house. I want to build a tiny house for my son, so you ask some interesting questions and was just assuming my home owners insurance would cover it…now I need to check into that.

Alexandra - August 4, 2012 Reply

Wow! So sorry to hear about this that gave me great pause as my journey towards this path. It made me questions if my consideration for my own tiny home is incorporating it as passive solar. While it would not address this unfortunate set of circumstances that was the apparent cause, it could eliminate some of the other hazards. Please no disrespect, but in another more appropriate posting, it would be useful to hear from others on a passive solar/off grid tiny hone self-sustainable path. Again, so very sorry for your loss; but please take comfort that your generosity of spirit is a consideration for us all and I pray that you are able to rebuild an even better humble abode!

Glenn - August 4, 2012 Reply

The best insurance was the trailer hitch. Too bad that someone didn’t move it while the barn fire was building…

airstreamingypsy - August 4, 2012 Reply

I live in an Airstream trailer and its insured with National Interstate. I can’t imagine not having insurance.

You will need “fulltimers” insurance because it covers liability, once you sell your house you no longer have liability so if someone falls in your house you will be covered.

Deni - August 5, 2012 Reply

What about mobile home insurance? I have a Motor Home & got insurance from Progressive for $398 / year. Maybe they offer insurance for these, too. I’m so sorry to hear this. Maybe this will help.

Mary - August 5, 2012 Reply

Oh no! How sad! First idea: have it added to the farm policy as an out building. Farm Bureau should be able to write this from the moment it is a building of any sort. Second idea: if it were an RV, then homeowners’ insurance should cover it while it’s parked at the house. So sorry for her loss.

Sandy - August 6, 2012 Reply

What a tragedy. On all levels. According to some fellow little canned ham trailer enthusiasts, the following companies underwrite theirs. I am of the impression that, although I have not personally verified, these companies understand “our world”. No clue on caveats and stipulations. Hope it helps.

Foremost
Poliseek
BancorpSouth Insurance

Karl Davidson - August 6, 2012 Reply

I, too, am sorry for your loss, BUT, you were so, so lucky, as it was just some overpriced building materials and trailer. I’m a 40+ year advocate of affordable housing with considerable experience in nearly every aspect of the process here, and “avoiding the ‘MAN'” and thereby avoiding any loss of my freedom to do whatever I want. Just a few folks on this thread have very politely hit on a few topics that should be explored more extensively. For the record, I am a far cry from being “one of the ‘Suits'” out there. There are at least two areas of thinking(or lack of) in this movement that have prominent, and potentially deadly consequences.
1)Avoiding codes. 2)Anybody can do this; anything you don’t know how to do or are completely unaware that it’s a critical step in the process. [this is not an arts and craft project that you’ll correct your mistakes on the next one]
There are reasons for codes and insurance that is obtainable on everything you might decide to do, BUT; yeah, you got to meet certain criteria, be it get your contractor’s license or have a lic. contractor(who pays for and has insur. to cover your job) do parts or all of your job.
Everywhere we go and everything we do out in world; we’re probably protected from others’ stupidity or lack of responsibility; by codes and insurance. Shopping, entertainment, schools, church, all commercial and government buildings; this list is endless.
Many permanent structures will be rejected for insurance if they appear to be poorly maintained (even if it just needs some paint).
Everything that you don’t know here, can kill you. That’s really not the worst that can happen;..?.? really?….really.
The worst is the injury or loss of life of another person(s) or whole family when your uninsurable house crushes their car, your best friend’s husband is paralyzed from falling off your roof while doing you a favor. This list is also endless. It’s sad when it happens to you; it’s a tragedy when it happens to other people; and, it’s a minor incident or learning experience when it’s a trailer and lumber.
I support being off the grid, but I’m even a stronger proponent of self responsibility. That comes into play even off the grid. Don’t kill a visitor sleeping on the floor, with mainly CO2 to breathe.

Monique Noriega - August 6, 2012 Reply

Hello,
So sorry to hear of your loss. I don’t know if this would apply or not but…my husband and I were looking into buying an office trailer, the kind used on construction sites. It was 10’x20′ and on wheels. Because it was on wheels it was actually classified as a “vehicle” not as a building. We ended up renting one but maybe you can check with the companies that insure mobile buildings to see what they have to say. Hope this helps.

Weslie - August 7, 2012 Reply

Have you looked into camper/ RV insurance? Just a thought.

Abel Zyl Zimmerman - August 18, 2012 Reply

Just a few days ago, I went out to assess/remove the trailer frame from the site of this fire. Unfortunately, no parts were able to be reused, the fire damage to the steel was too great.

…So the frame was cut up and taken to the recycler. I have pictures of the dismantling at: http://www.facebook.com/ZylVardos

Barbara - August 25, 2012 Reply

How is the fund raising going? I haven’t heard anything about Kim nor posts from Dee. Any word??

sam - August 28, 2012 Reply

Moving forward, get a 100+ people to kick in a thousand dollars each into a secured trust fund. Then there’s $100,000.00+ sitting in a fund waiting to help aid in such incidences. Hire someone to manage the fund, you would each pay a small fee for the work this person does for you.

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