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A ‘Tiny House Nation’ Dream Ends in A Claim of Theft

A family who participated on "Tiny House Nation" now claims the builder stole their tiny home.

Ben and Rebecah Richards

Ben Richards, Rebecah Richards, and their daughters pose for a photo after filming an episode for ‘Tiny House Nation.’

Courtesy of Ben Richards

It seemed like a wholesome and fun proposition: Move out of bustling and expensive Los Angeles, resettle in a custom-designed tiny house in Nashville and get the experience documented on a popular television show. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Ben and Rebecah Richards’ dreams of living in a tiny house to turn into what they say is a major nightmare.

The couple sought to move to Nashville for Ben’s music career and decided that moving into a tiny house for a year would be affordable and fit their sustainable lifestyle. The tiny house movement is a relatively recent phenomenon where individuals or families move into homes that are often only a few hundred square feet in size. Typical perks of the compact living arrangement include cheaper costs, simplicity, and environmental friendliness.

Ben and Rebecah eventually found Mike Bedsole, owner of the Tennessee-based Tiny House Chattanooga construction company. They decided to reach out and hire Bedsole for the construction project because he claimed to use a healthy home kit, which includes nontoxic building materials, including wall installations. Bedsole allegedly told the couple about the possibility of appearing on “Tiny House Nation,” a reality television series that documents the construction of tiny homes throughout the United States and airs on A&E.

The idea appealed to the Richards, they said, since the show would foot some of the financial costs for the construction project, and Ben and Rebecah’s “Tiny House Nation” episode aired in May. Despite their similar names, Tiny House Chattanooga is not affiliated with “Tiny House Nation” and the Richards said they had no initial issues with the show. Regardless, they said it didn’t take long for their working relationship with Bedsole to deteriorate.

One of the key advantages to appearing on “Tiny House Nation” for the Richards was that the trailer the home would rest on would be paid for by the show. According to the Richards, that was the first sign of trouble.

Bedsole’s company said it couldn’t accept the television show’s trailer and Bedsole told the Richards that the couple would have to buy a trailer through his supplier, according to Ben. Though the couple assumed Bedsole would register the title in the couple’s name, he registered it under his own name, Ben said.

Though the Richards say received around $47,000 in materials for the home through “Tiny House Nation,” the couple said they were unable to determine the remaining balance they owed to Bedsole after filming concluded. The Richards also said that Bedsole did not using the healthy home kit during construction and was creating what they perceived to be other budget discrepancies.

“We’ve been trying to get in contact with Mike but he stopped actively communicating with us early in the year when we were trying to learn what our final quote was,” Ben said. “There was a list of over 70 items we were actively addressing, including everything from appliances, to various building materials, and stuff for the healthy home kit. He didn’t even follow the design specs.”

Eventually the Richards discovered that Bedsole was being evicted from the property, and they said the property owner informed the couple that the Richards needed to remove their home from the property because the trailer it sat on did not belong to them. Because the trailer’s title was in Bedsole’s name, Judge Daniel R. Swafford considered the couple to be tenants and ordered them to vacate the property. A representative of the Bradley County General Sessions Court, where the case was heard, confirmed the ruling.

An individual who answered the property owner’s phone number declined to comment.

Now the Richards’ tiny house is missing. Ben said they found an online listing for the home via a third party, who told the couple that Bedsole approached him about selling the house. Despite repeated efforts, the Richards have been unable to reach Bedsole, according to Ben. Most recently, the Richards claim they received a call telling them their house would be given away as part of a competition.

Though the couple informed the “Tiny House Nation” show of the issues, they were told that the problem was between them and the builder, Ben said. He added that it was frustrating that the show happily aired their episode but refused to help them sort out the claim against the builder. The show has not responded to the Richards’ questions, according to Ben.

A spokesperson for A&E, the network that hosts “Tiny House Nation,” did not return a request for comment. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment if any investigation is pending in the matter. Tiny House Chattanooga, Mike Bedsole’s construction company, also did not return a request for comment, although the Tiny House Chattanooga Facebook page recently posted several public updates arguing that it is a legitimate business.

“Tiny House Chattanooga abides by all laws and regulations when conducting a build and sale,” part of the Facebook post read. “Tiny Houses, like vehicles, are registered with VIN’s and titles, which are signed over upon completion of payment. In light of recent events, in the coming weeks we will be posting anticipated processes and things to keep in mind when purchasing your Tiny House from choosing a lay out to potential financing options.”

“We are saddened to report that there have been multiple pages created to misrepresent our company and have stolen our images to do so,” part of the post read. “Please be aware that Tiny House Chattanooga is not currently hosting ANY give away for a tiny house online or otherwise. Be aware that your information may be stolen by the people creating these pages and posts.”

The June 19 post, which is the latest update posted on the organization’s Facebook page, was shared by a personal Facebook account that appears to belong to Bedsole.

A search revealed Tiny House Chattanooga has a D+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The Richards did not consult a lawyer prior to working with the show or builder because they believed they had solid reputations and a close friend who had previously been on Tiny House Nation had a positive experience on the show. The Richards, who are currently living with family in California, recently set up a GoFundMe page to hire a lawyer to track down the house and builder.

“It’s been a heartbreaking process of moving two young daughters across the country only to tell them our home is gone and we have to come back to California,” Rebecah said. “Besides getting our house back and getting justice served, we don’t want anyone to endure the situation that we have been going through.”

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