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Tiny homes and delivery concerns: Arizona man pays in full and is made to wait

Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 09:42:39-04

With the median home price in metro Phoenix now at $450,000, some buyers are looking for alternatives.

They include much smaller places called "tiny homes."

The homes can be custom-built, and the price is usually just a fraction of a traditional house cost.

James LeVar thought it would be perfect for him.

He's a double amputee after being hit by a drunk driver and he doesn't want a lot of space.

"My last house was 865 square feet and that was too big for me," he says.

When James saw a custom-made container home at All Star Storage and Container in Apache Junction, he was sold.

It's a shipping container that's 25 feet long by 8 feet wide and filled with almost everything he would need.

"It had a toilet, it had a sink, it had A/C, a place for the bed a sliding door, it's just a tiny house," James says.

He bought one container for storage.

Then James bought three other containers, two that would form a garage, and the other made into his home.

He paid $32,500 for the three containers that would be placed in the large backyard of his son's family home.

"He moved out here on the condition that we would buy a house with land and he would be able to put a tiny home on our property," daughter-in-law Amy LeVar says.

While James was able to get the storage container and the two garage containers delivered, they waited for the container home.

There is no delivery date listed on the contract.

James says he was told it would take eight weeks for the home to be completed.

The All Star Storage owner says he told James it would take three or four months.

Either way, five months after James signed the contract, he still didn't have the home or a date for delivery.

Texts show the business gave James completion dates that came and went without delivery.

All Star Storage and Container says the home was 90% completed but they couldn't find a plumber to finish.

They texted that information to the family and offered a full refund, something the family didn't want.

So, James let me know.

We contacted the business.

The owner agreed to a new delivery date a couple of weeks out.

But it didn't even take that long.

The home 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 ramp, James even wants to add on saying, "I would look to put a little swing on it as corny as that is."

There's a bed, shower, cooking area, and more.

"The inside is gorgeous, little knick-knacks here make it look pretty good," James says.

He says there were some plumbing and electrical issues that he took care of before moving in.

The owner of All Star Storage and Container Sales says the home was 90% complete but demand for plumbers was "the highest I've seen in 15 years."

He says custom builds take time, that they built it for less and completed it sooner than anybody else would have and when the "customer had become unhappy, we offered a full refund."

Before you sign a contract for something that should be delivered or work done, make sure you get a start or delivery date written into your contract.

Here's more of All Star Storage and Container Sales comment:

"Jim Levar purchased 2 items on the same invoice. 1st was a 20' x 16' garage/workshop container that was already built and 2nd was a 25' x 8' house container that was to be constructed. An initial deposit was paid on Dec 21st which was applied to the 20' x 16' garage container. This garage/workshop container was delivered to Jim Levar on Dec 31st.

Several weeks later, Jan 19th, Jim came in to pay towards the 25' x 8' house container. Jim was told that the build time was 3-4 months. Jim and/or his son stopped by our yard at least 4 times from Feb-April to observe the progress. By the end of April the 25' x 8' house container was 90% complete and only required finish plumbing and touch-ups. At this time, the commercial plumbing company that we use was in the middle of a large commercial project.. Jim and his son were made aware of the delays with the plumber...

I tried my best to explain that demand for plumbing contractors is/was the highest that I've seen in the past 15 years. I explained that we have a great relationship with the plumbing company but comparatively our jobs are very small in comparison to the commercial projects that they mainly work on. Had things progressed as they were prior to the daughters' involvement, then the delivery may have been 1-2 weeks earlier than the June 4th delivery date.

This was a custom build and custom builds of any kind take time. In hindsight, I definitely wish that I would have done a better job in preparing them in the time to go from 90%-100%. The customer sees that there's only 1 day left to finish up but may have a tough time when that 1 day worth of work won't be done for 2 weeks or more. The relationship felt very casual with Jim and his son, they got to the point where they would drive to the container in the yard and then come to the office afterwards. Everybody in the yard got to know them and enjoy them.

I know they were unhappy when they reached out to you but I hope that both sides of the story are fairly represented as the story is made public. On a positive note, I'm sure that we built the container for 25-50% less than anybody and completed it sooner than anybody else would have. We are a small family business that works very hard to provide a great product and great service with the goal of making all of our customers happy. At the first sign that this customer had become unhappy, we offered a full refund. We acted in good faith throughout this transaction and I was always honest with Jim and his family."