By Rick Sallinger

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – A tiny home is now the source of big problems. It was built at Greeley West High School by a teacher and his construction class. It still sits unfinished just outside the school.

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(credit: CBS)

It was for April Welp and her family who spotted an ad last year on Craigslist.

“It was from a teacher who would like his students to build a tiny home,” she told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

She agreed to supply the materials and the plans for it to be built on a trailer.

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(credit: CBS)

She, her husband and four children, ages 1 to 9, would move it to the Western Slope to live in until they could build a full size house, but Welp says if they attempted to move it, it might fall apart.

“With the weight of the walls, the weight of the roof the load bearing walls could eventually fall off,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

Welp claims the job was not adequately done.

Experts she hired found it is “unsuitable for transport” and unlivable.

As of now they are out some $22,000 and one tiny home.

Welp walked through the back yard of a relative’s home where they are now living, but soon have to leave.

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(credit: CBS)

“Our children are confused that we don’t have a home. Even family members and friends supporting us are distraught,” she said.

The Greeley School district says the students provided the labor free of charge. The family provided the supplies. Now lawyers are talking about how to construct a tiny house settlement.

The district says it made an offer to the Welps. The district has not heard back.

The family says the offer is not worth accepting.

Greeley School District 6 sent CBS4 a statement regarding the matter, saying:

“As part of obtaining vocational training, students in one of Greeley West’s construction trades classes worked on a tiny house for a family.  The family provided the materials and the students provided the labor free of charge as a learning exercise.  The family has now alleged that they have concerns with the students’ workmanship and are threatening to file a lawsuit.  

The District is currently attempting to negotiate a resolution with the family’s attorney and that remains ongoing at this point. We have had regular communication with the family over the past few months, and are waiting to hear how they would like to proceed. We have made every effort to settle this issue amicably, and will continue to do so.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

Comments (2)
  1. Allen Jay says:

    What a stupid idea. Who is dumb enough to think some high school kids could engineer a house able to be moved like this?

  2. Bo Whiting says:

    I doubt anyone thought the kids would be engineering this. As with any high school shop class project, it’s the teacher’s responsibility to make sure it’s engineered properly.
    Who are the engineers they had look at it? Unless they are structural engineers their opinion doesn’t mean much. Besides that, you can have an engineer walk through any house currently being built in this country at some random point during framing and they will say it won’t stay up, it’ll probably fall down soon.
    As someone that builds tiny homes, I can look at the pictures and see that they are on the right track, but with some concerns. The added “utility room” on the back needs to come off, it will change the weight distribution enough that it won’t pull properly above about 40 mph (been there, done that). There are brackets that have to be added towards the end of framing that secure the entire frame to the trailer. The pictures don’t show whether they are there or not, but if they aren’t then now is the time to add them. I’m sure some engineers will still say it isn’t good enough but it has already been proven to work.
    To know for sure if it is stable they need to have someone that is up to date with what is going on with tiny homes check it out. Not everyone that wants to build a tiny home will know how to do it properly. Finding someone “qualified” isn’t easy since the IRC (international residential code) still doesn’t have rules for THOW’s (tiny homes on wheels). They just added rules for tiny homes on a foundation in the 2018 edition. Rules for THOWs is taking longer because extra wind and seismic concerns are being debated since these will be going down the road.

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