The Birth of The Shack Attack


The Shack Attack is exactly that - A SHACK - well, if you can even consider it a shack taking into account that it doesn’t have a front door, drywall, a single unbroken window, working plumbing, electricity, or even a roof (who needs a roof, after all, it never rains in the desert?!?!). I guess that's why it was home to a family of pigeons and a toilet for roaming coyotes and other desert dwelling creatures.

The Shack Attack ▲

The Start

It all started when the county of San Bernardino announced their up-and-coming property tax auction. You see, if a property owner doesn't pay their property tax for five consecutive years, the county has the right to auction off the property to cover back taxes. In any effect, the list of properties was long - VERY LONG - like hundreds of properties long. So, after narrowing the list down to 40 or so homes and lots, we started exploring the desert in search of our next project.

When we arrived at The Shack, it definitely WAS NOT love at first sight. In fact, we almost didn't stop at all, but something inside us couldn't resist. It just looked so pathetic - years of abuse from sand storms, vandals, animals, and maybe even the occasional real estate agent (far worse than vandals and animals), and yet, she was still fighting to survive, albeit barely. We tromped around the property and peaked inside, even disrupting a large flock of pigeons who clearly disapproved of our presence – ehhh, The Shack was unimpressive. But upon further inspection, we discovered a game changer - the highly coveted water meter. Desert property with municipal water is very desirable, especially when the area is this secluded. The Shack had a water meter and now we wanted it, well kind of. After driving around the desert for days, we narrowed our search of hundreds of properties down to just three.

Let the Bidding Begin

So it’s probably obvious, but Kathrin and I are very excited about the future of Joshua Tree. We definitely have observed the makings of a very special community comprised of an eclectic mix of desert dwellers, artists, survivalists, and musicians. But, up to this point, we were not sure if our enthusiasm was shared with others, after all, a local once quickly responded when I asked her if she ever visits the park, “Why, it’s just a bunch of rocks!”

Well, I guess we are not the only people excited about Joshua Tree. The first two properties on our list sold for 3-4 times what we were willing to pay which was quite shocking – two down, one to go. The little pathetic desert shack was our last hope at purchasing something at the county tax auction.

The bidding started at $7,050 which is where we started. Counting down the seconds to auction close, voila, not a single other bidder! We just became the owner of a 480/sf. house on 2.5 acres for less than the price of a used car (well, I guess it’s not quite a house yet). After fees, the final purchase price came out to a grand total of $7,058.25!

It’s funny, The Shack Attack is by far, the most dilapidated project we have ever purchased, yet, there is this indescribable excitement we have that was missing on our other purchases. Maybe it’s the auction process or just the low price tag or a little bit of both, but I really think it’s the liberating feeling of working with a blank space. We will definitely demolish the interior and exterior down to the studs and rebuild it exactly the way we want – no working around poor design decision on this one!

Anyway, once we officially get started on the project, we will post numerous updates and possibly even some simple DIY tips so stay tuned!

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