I’ve been back and forth on whether to post this for a while now, but recently Jenna and Guillaume of Tiny House Giant Journey did a post about how to break into your tiny house and it couldn’t have been a better push to share this rather hilarious and equally embarrassing tiny house story.
Here is Guillaume breaking into his tiny house while his partner, Jenna, encourages him while filming. My story does not come with a video for reasons soon to be revealed.
It all started like most mornings. My alarm went off and I made my way down the ladder and blearily began my morning routine. I grabbed my towel, put on my flip flops and headed to the shower. The thing is, during the summer months I always opt for my outdoor shower, which I think might be my favorite part of my morning routine. Being situated on a huge private lot of 26 acres, I don’t really worry about being seen, I just kick off my drawers in the house, walk outside and hop on the shower pad which I have yet build any walls around.
This is my morning every day, but then something strange happened…
I dried off and went to go inside, when the door handle didn’t seem to work. I have a key-less entry, so I thought to myself, “no problem, just enter the code and open sesame!” HOW WRONG I WAS. The door started doing all sorts of crazy beeps and refused to open. I tried again and again, nothing.
I was locked out of my house, butt-ass naked with only a small camping towel, no keys, no phone.
A million thoughts flew threw my mind: “How am I going to get inside?” “OMG I’m going to have to go to a neighbor and ask to use their phone with a towel so small I’m going to have to strategically prioritize what not to show,” and “This can’t be real! Seriously? This couldn’t be more ripped out of every sitcom that has ever existed.” At that point I just had to laugh and proclaim, “What the f$#k am I going to do now!”
After a good bit of laughing at my own predicament and a fair bit of cursing, I hunkered down for a game plan.
Step 1: Kick the sh!t out of the front door
At this point I had moved beyond all the options of finessing the door open, so we quickly moved on to plan B: kicking the living sh!t out of the front door. A dozen mule kicks to the door and I realized it wasn’t going to un-jam the lock and it wasn’t going to pop open without tearing out the door jamb. To tear out the door jamb, I was pretty sure I’d have to break something in my foot because I had purposefully reinforced that section of the door frame to prevent anyone from doing exactly this.
Step 2: Try to pry a window open
Next I moved onto the windows, trying to get my fingers to have enough purchase to pull them open. The problem was the windows were built so well, the gaps were very small, only large enough for a flat head screw driver to be inserted. I was able to access my tools, so I grabbed a flat head screwdriver and tried to force open the window, but no luck. The window locks were just too strong and I wasn’t able to get enough leverage. I also tried a crowbar, but the gaps were too small to fit.
Step 3: Shimming your door lock
Initially I had avoided this because I knew I was going to mess up my door frame, but I was pretty desperate. I tried inserting a thin flat piece of metal into the door jamb to push the door catch open, but the door frame I had built was so perfectly fit, the metal kept bending. I eventually got it worked into place, but since the door was so tight to the frame, there was too much friction to wiggle it into place.
Step 4: Smashing a damn window
So after all that, I had been trying to break into my tiny house, naked, for over an hour at this point. It was then I came to realize that I was either going to have to go meet the neighbors in a very naked state or smash a window. I wasn’t willing to destroy my very expensive windows until I realized something. My front window had been delivered damaged and I had a replacement already sitting at my tiny house, and I just hadn’t got around to putting it in. That meant I could smash the window, get in, then just swap the sashes. Bingo! I had a way in!
I figured if I was going to break a window I should do it right, so I went over to my tool box and picked up my claw hammer. I walked up to the window and took a swing…. I was expecting a crash, but all I heard was a hollow thunk noise. My hammer bounced off the window. I figured I just didn’t hit it hard enough, so I swung again. Nothing. I slammed it into the window. Nothing! I began to wail on that window over and over again, slamming it with all my might. Nothing!!!! My hammer just bounced back off the glass over and over again. Then I got really mad and just went straight up hulk on that window. After a while I was exhausted, out of breath, and I had to take a break. That’s when I realized something: I have tempered glass! It was made to withstand impacts like this!
Step 5: Giving up
It was at that point that I gave up on the house. I had resigned myself to taking the walk of shame, to say hello to the neighborhood in only a towel, and beg for a phone call to my family members to bring some clothes and a lock smith. I started to walk down the driveway towards the neighbors wondering which house I should impose upon when I saw my car, it was then I remembered something: I have a manual key that might still work, but it was locked in my car!
Step 6: Breaking into your car
I had no idea how I was going to get into my car. If I couldn’t get into my tiny house, surely I couldn’t get into my professionally made car! I figured it was worth a shot. I started by trying to shim the windows open. No luck. I slid a long flat piece of metal into the window crack to get at the door unlock button. No luck. I finally popped the door open by sliding a scrap piece of molding into the window gap, through the door handle and the pressing down against the floor, bowing out molding so it lifted the handle! I was in!
I’m not sure what to think about how I was able to MacGyver my Smart Car open with such ease. While it did take about 30 minutes, I would assume a car made by Mercedes would be harder to break into. At that point I didn’t care, I had the key!!!
Step 7: Unlock the door
I rushed over to the door with the key, slid it in the slot, and turned. I then turned the handle and… Nothing! It was still jammed! I repeated Step 1 a few times, kicking the door and wiggling the key. Then, finally! It popped open! I was in!
Step 8: Do a happy dance: clothing optional
It was true, I hadn’t felt so thankful for such a simple thing in a very long time. There might have been some happy dancing occurring, it only seemed like the right thing to do. I was in my tiny house! Once the celebration had subsided, I realized that I had worked up quite a sweat in my many attempts to break into my tiny house, so I went back outside, left the door ajar, and took yet another glorious shower. This one seemed to be just a little better than the last.
I couldn’t but help share this story. It is instructional, embarrassing and hilarious all rolled in one. People always ask about tiny house security and now I feel like I can adequately say that my tiny house is certified against any naked burglars that might come my way. My car, not so much. I have since hidden a key in a lock box outside my house and no longer keep a spare just in the car, because you never know when you’re going to be locked out of your house, butt-ass naked.
It’s a funny thing. You work for a long time to make it to living in a tiny house and then, one day, you do. The big question that I had and many of you will have is…now what? While that will be different for each of you, there will be some things that will most definitely happen to you.
1. You will forever be introduced as the guy/girl who “lives in a tiny house” in every social situation
2. Half of people will tell you that they could never live in such a small space
3. The other half will tell you that they totally could live in a tiny house, but you can tell they never really would
4. You’ll begin to ask bigger questions of yourself, your life and its meaning
5. You’ll become way more laid back and find yourself just enjoying the here and now
6. You’ll own a nail gun and aren’t afraid to use it
7. Everyone will compare your house to their bathroom or closet and all you can think is, “I get it, it’s small”
8. You’ll go to the grocery store or farmers market a lot. Tiny fridges only hold so much
9. People will email you telling you what’s wrong with your house and how you should fix it, without you asking
10. You’ll find dinner parties seem way more intimate and interesting in such a small space
11. You’ll notice that conversations with other tiny house people seem deeper, richer and more valuable
12. People will point blank ask you about how you poop or other intimate details
13. Your bank account will grow and it feels good!
14. After taking on building a tiny house, other things just seem easier
15. Trying new things won’t be as scary
16. You’ll still feel like you have too much stuff
17. You might just end up leaving your job to start your own thing
18. Living in a tiny house will feel normal and you might start to feel like your house seems big
19. There will be days you don’t like living tiny and that’s okay
I found this video recently that I really liked. It struck a cord on many levels for me; as a tiny house person, as an entrepreneur, as a location independent / digital nomad. The video introduces the concept of “learned helplessness” which standing on this side of tiny house (living The Tiny Life) is all too clear to me now. I now wonder if there are other areas of my life that I just am assuming are the way they are, things that I’m blind to?
I’m writing from Portland today, still here after an amazing time at the Tiny House Conference that happened about a week ago. On Saturday I went to brunch with Laura and Matt LaVoie, where we were chatting about the amazing opportunities we experienced because of our choice to live tiny.
It struck me how lucky we were, to be sitting around a table on an extended vacation sharing a meal with friends. I all of a sudden said “what a gift” and began to share this gratitude with Matt and Laura, and we all took a beat to reflect on this gift we have been afforded.
So today I wanted to share what I know about you and what I hope for you.
The Tiny Life is a life that anyone can achieve with enough perseverance.
I know YOU can persevere through the doubt, the fear, the questions, and the hard days.
I know the life you can achieve will inspire you, drive you, and open doors.
I know you will value relationships over money, but you’ll have both in abundance.
I know you’ll be empowered when you realize (or realized) the truth: this is MY life.
I hope all you reading this have that moment when you say “I’m going for it”.
I hope that you appreciate what you have right now and fight hard for what you want in the future.
I hope you build a life that inspires you and others; one that others only dream of.
I hope you get to sit around a table with friends and say “what a gift.”