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How I Wasn’t Able To Break Into My Tiny House

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.

naked and afraid

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

hulk smashSo 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

happy danceIt 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.

In Closing

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.

Ordering Windows

This past week I have been busy ordering the windows and the trailer.  The windows will take 4 weeks to be delivered.  It has been a lot more involved than I ever thought possible.  Even with house plans, which meant I know all the dimensions needed, there are a lot of choices to be made when it comes to the trailer, but especially with the windows!

With windows you have to decide on the style, the way the open (if they open), metal/vinyl/wood/mixed, what kind of hand crank, what color is the crank, choose from one of the 10 options for screens, but then match the screen to the screen frame color!

So for those of you who are interested in the details here is the details on the windows. Please note window sizes are approximate:

  • 4 windows: 20″ x 30″ ($321 each)
  • 2 windows: 24″ x 24″ ($279 each)
  • 2 windows: 22″ x 40″ ($460 each)
  • 4 windows: 15″ x 40″ ($177 each)
  • 1 Skylight: 21″ x 27″ ($428)

Grand total for windows and everything (taxes, flashing, etc.):  $3,962.65

That price tag might seem like a lot to many, but anyone who has purchased windows will let you know that it is an expensive proposition.  Many people use stock window sizes or windows found on craig’s list or the Re-store to save money.  While I really like the idea of re-purposing old items, you often cannot find windows that are tempered which is really important if you are building your Tiny House on wheels.  While the house goes down the road, you want it to be able to withstand the bumps in the road.  Here is a video attesting the to strength of tempered glass.

All the windows are made by Jeld-Wen and are Low-e Tempered glass, double pane and filled with Argon.  The windows are all awning style so that you can still have them open when it is raining (to compensate for small eves).  They are natural wood on the inside and metal clad on the outside (mesa red).  I chose the hide away cranks and just went with the standard metal color that they use because it saved about $800 on the whole order.

The sky light made by Velux, which is one of the biggest manufactures of skylights and I got a standard size.  This was a simple choice because they don’t give a lot of options.  You really choose size, deck mount (what I choose) or curb mount, and whether it opens ($428) or is fixed ($189).  I decided to spring for the one that opens with a crank because it is the window that is at the highest point of my house, so I wanted to be able to vent hot air out.

  • Builder’s Tip: Be sure to read up on how to properly flash a window.  Windows and doors are the most vulnerable spots on a house for the water to seep in.