On Fires, “Security,” and How to Rebuild After a Loss

I want to provide some background for you all on why I’m so concerned with getting Gyrtle registered as a self-built, live-in camper so that she can be insured for the full amount needed in the event of a total loss.

Here is an excerpt from an email my mom Robin sent out on June 16, 2013 (I’ve added some photos in for reference, as well).

“Dear Folks,

“You’ve probably heard of the fire in Colorado Springs known as the Black Forest Fire.  The fire started Tuesday on the north side of the road that leads to where my tiny house on wheels (Gyrtle, short for Gypsy Turtle, soft “g”) is situated. Because the winds kept blowing north my home was never actually in danger.  Unfortunately some 470 homes across the road burned.  I’ve been evacuated since Tu. or Wed.  I went back in over land on foot to move mulch away from my house and wet it down.  They have started to open up areas around the mandatory evacuation area and let people back in.  We can’t get in on our street because of being only connected to Shoup Rd. and because that is where the fire started and there are so many affected homes down the road.  I’ve been well taken care of and have had a lovely place to stay.


“I’ve been fine and my house is fine.  Biggest problem is that we can’t get back home because the road that we get to our houses from is closed.  The fire started right across that road from us and luckily it never crossed the road anywhere near where we live.  It did further east.


“I’ve lost some work do to the fire – that’s a little bit disconcerting because I’m not really making enough yet to get by.  But I’m sure something else will come through.  Our trio managed to rehearse yesterday – we have our first concert on July 2nd.  The cellist and I were both evacuated.  Luckily we rehearse at the violinist’s house.

“I’m determined now to find a way to insure my house.  And I’m going to park my truck on the property where my house is!  I’ll let you tiny house people know what I did to get insurance once I do.

May Your Life Sing,
Robin Kissinger

My mom drafted this blog post shortly after the Black Forest Fire that made mention of other folks who’ve been threatened by or completely lost their tiny homes due to a fire. The reality is that, especially during construction, the risk of fire for tiny homes is large, while the chances of having building or tiny home insurance is small.

Kim Langston of Olympia, Washington lost her tiny home in an unexplained barn fire partway through construction. Having spent all of her savings and some of her friends’, she had nothing left with which to rebuild. Luckily, the tiny house community is tight-knit and familiar with both seemingly insurmountable obstacles and otherwise unworldly perseverance. Kim created an Indiegogo campaign to fund her second build and was met with a generous amount of support. She has since finished construction and moved on to living out her little dream.

Likewise, my mom spent her entire savings to build Gyrtle, and the threat of losing everything loomed large during Black Forest. I am similarly wary of being uninsured now, not only because wildfires remain a threat where Gyrtle is stationed in Colorado, but also because the idea of transporting a tiny across state lines or actually using the experimental systems she needs to run is terrifying without a financial safety net. I, too, don’t have the funds to re-coup this testament to my mom’s dreams should she be destroyed.

That’s why I’m simply taking things slow. When it comes to tiny living, it truly is better safe than sorry. I’ve reached out to the one multi-state provider of tiny house insurance that I can find for a quote and have started the long process of appraisal and re-registration that I outlined in my last post.

Sorting these issues out hasn’t stopped me from exploring all the options out there for Gyrtle’s next move – when she’s ready to take it. I recently spoke about the potential for tiny houses to contribute to affordable housing and adaptive reuse projects here at the Ignite Phoenix conference on April 1. I’m looking forward to sharing the video when it’s ready.

In the meantime, I have several more posts to come with news about mom’s journey both during Gyrtle’s build and beyond, plus a few more about the plans I see taking shape. I hope you stay tuned.

Happy Trails,

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