With the median home price in metro Phoenix now at $450,000, some buyers are looking for alternatives.
They include many smaller places called “little houses.”
The houses can be custom built and the price is usually only a fraction of the traditional house cost.
James LeVar thought it would be perfect for him.
He is doubly amputated after being hit by a drunk driver and he doesn’t want much space.
“My last house was 865 square feet and that was too big for me,” he says.
When James saw a custom container home at All Star Storage and Container in Apache Junction, he was sold.
It is a shipping container 25 feet long and 8 feet wide and filled with almost everything he would need.
“It had a toilet, it had a sink, it had air conditioning, a place for the bed and a sliding door. It’s just a small house,” says James.
He bought a container for storage.
Then James bought three other containers, two that would form a garage, and the other made in his house.
He paid $32,500 for the three containers that would be placed in the large backyard of his son’s childhood home.
“He moved here on the condition that we buy a house with land and he could put a tiny house on our property,” says daughter-in-law Amy LeVar.
While James was able to deliver the storage container and the two garage containers, they waited for the container to go home.
There is no delivery date on the contract.
James says he was told it would take eight weeks to finish the house.
The owner of the All Star Storage tells James it would take three or four months.
Anyway, five months after James signed the contract, he still didn’t have a house or a delivery date.
Texts show that the company gave James end dates that came and went with no delivery.
All Star Storage and Container says the house was 90% finished, but they couldn’t find a plumber to finish it.
They sent that information to the family and offered a full refund, which the family did not want.
So James let me know.
We have contacted the company.
The owner agreed to a new delivery date a few weeks out.
But it didn’t even last that long.
The house was delivered and we were there to see that James was a happy man.
“I love the place, love the place,” he told us.
With a porch and driveway, James is even willing to add, “I’d like to put a little swing on it, as corny as that is.”
There is a bed, shower, cooking area and more.
“The inside is beautiful, with little trinkets here it looks pretty good,” says James.
He says there were some plumbing and electrical issues that he resolved before moving in.
The owner of All Star Storage and Container Sales says the house was 90% complete, but the demand for plumbers was “the highest I’ve seen in 15 years.”
He says custom builds take time, they built it for less and completed it faster than anyone else would have done, and when the “customer became unhappy, we offered a full refund.”
Before signing a contract for anything to be delivered or work to be done, make sure you have a start or delivery date in your contract.
Here’s more commentary from All Star Storage and Container Sales:
“Jim Levar bought 2 items on the same invoice. The first was a 20′ x 16′ garage/workshop container that had already been built and the second was a 25′ x 8′ house container that needed to be built. An initial deposit was paid on Dec 21 fitted to the 20′ x 16′ garage container. This garage/workshop container was delivered to Jim Levar on December 31st.
A few weeks later, January 19, Jim came in to pay for the 25′ x 8′ home container. Jim was told the build time was 3-4 months. Jim and/or his son visited our garden at least 4 times from February-April to observe the progress. By the end of April, the 25′ x 8′ home container was 90% complete and only the plumbing and updating needed to be completed. At the time, the commercial plumbing company we use was in the middle of a major commercial project. Jim and his son were made aware of the plumber’s delays…
I have done my best to explain that the demand for plumbing companies is/was the highest I have seen in the last 15 years. I explained that we have a good relationship with the plumbing company, but our jobs are relatively small compared to the commercial projects they mainly work on. If things had progressed as they were before the daughters’ engagement, the delivery may have been 1-2 weeks earlier than the June 4 delivery date.
This was a custom build and custom builds of any kind take time. In hindsight, I definitely wish I had done better by preparing them in time to go from 90% to 100%. The client sees that there is only 1 day left to complete, but may struggle if that one day of work won’t be done for 2 weeks or more. The relationship felt very casual with Jim and his son, getting to the point where they would drive to the dumpster in the yard and then come to the office. Everyone in the garden got to know them and enjoyed them.
I know they were unhappy when they reached out to you, but I hope both sides of the story are presented fairly when the story is made public. On a positive note, I’m confident we built the container for 25-50% less than anyone else and completed it faster than anyone else would have. We are a small family business that works very hard to provide a great product and great service with the aim of satisfying all our customers. At the first sign that this customer had become dissatisfied, we offered a full refund. We acted in good faith throughout this transaction and I was always honest with Jim and his family.”