A Florida grandmother has been forced to tear down her treehouse in Miami in which she had lived in for 17 years after she failed to comply with local building code regulation.
Shawnee Chasser, 72, racked up $40,000 over the past eight years in fines over ‘unsafe’ construction after neighbors reported her property to Miami-Dade County and the Building Code Enforcement Department
The house was built in a large tree and includes a Tiki hut, a pool with a homemade waterfall, bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom and a quaint back yard in the open air, exposed to the elements.
But once code enforcers found that her treehouse wasn’t safe to live in they gave her two options – take it down or bring it up to code.
She reluctantly decided to stop fighting began the process of tearing down her home last week.
Shawnee Chasser, 72, has been forced to tear down her treehouse in Miami in which she had lived in for 17 years after she failed to comply with local building code
The home is steen to be nothing more than a shell after the structure was torn down last week
Workers were seen on site taking the treehouse apart piece by piece
‘It’s been a big demolition, and I don’t even like looking at it. It’s sad,’ she told WSVN.
‘I feel like a bird in a cage when I’m in a house. It just doesn’t work for me, but I’m thinking that a lot of people have told me that there’s going to be an outside structure. I’m just praying for that day.’
Chesser said that it was too painful for her to be on site watching her home disappear piece by piece.
‘I tried to not be here because, you know, it’s my bedroom, and I loved it,’ she said. ‘It’s a rope around your neck. I just want to be free of it.’ she added.
Chesser said that any new treehouse will this time be built to code and approved by county inspectors and will also have a lot of outdoor space.
‘It makes me come alive to hear the rain, to see the rain, to hear the frogs’ she said to 7News. ‘I missed two rains since I’ve been indoors. I miss it all.’
Workers could be seen hauling the structure away with their bare hands
Making new additions to her treehouse over the years, she’s moved her bedroom up higher in the tree, with a kitchen and living room on the ground, a pool with a water fountain, and a new bedroom she built inside of a Tiki hut
She also shared her outdoor home with her pet raccoon named Coonie
Miami resident Shawnee Chasser, right talks with her best friend Christopher Thomas, eft, at her self made tropical house in Miami, Florida, before it was torn down
Chasser intends to remain outdoors and build a new home following building code and with the proper permits. The grandmother says she has always lived outdoors.
‘I have to hear the rain and the wind at night. If I don’t, I go crazy, and I’m claustrophobic,’ she told told 7News Miami.
She bought the property almost 20 years ago for her son, but after he died she decided to move in herself.
Most recently, she has lived in the elements with the company of her two grandchildren in what she calls her ‘oasis’.
She also shares her outdoor home with her pet raccoon named Coonie.
Workmen were seen on site clearing away the structure
Chasser, 72, has experienced several panic attacks while trying to sleep indoors, so she has spent the past thirty years sleeping outside in various treehouses
There is little evidence of the home from the roadside outside
Tape surrounds the area where the home once stood
The Florida grandmother is pictures sitting in her home before it was torn down last week
Chasser cooks food in her kitchen at her self made tropical house in Miami
Chasser wss forced to tear down the treehouse she has been living in for almost two decades of that time, after she accumulated more than $40,000 in fines from the county over code violations and concerns it was ‘unsafe’
Shawnee Chasser talks on phone at her self made tropical house in Miami, Florida, last week
After deconstruction began last week, the tree house was finally disassembled
Chasser climbs down from her self made tropical tree house in Miami
Chasser says she is looking to rebuild the treehouse in the future with proper permits
The home is pictures many years earlier before last week’s demolition
Making new additions to her treehouse over the years, she’s moved her bedroom up to a higher level in the tree, with a kitchen and living room on the ground, a pool with a water fountain, and a new bedroom she built inside of a Tiki hut.
The new living room and kitchen had become a sanctuary not only for her, but her children and grandchildren.
‘It has got everything I could possibly need,’ Chasser told Local10 News.
According to the GoFundMe that she set up herself, Chasser was fined $11,320 along with an additional charge of $11,481.50 in one day for violating Chapter 33 of Florida zoning law and ‘unauthorized use within a single-family residential district.’
The treehouse also came with some fine facilities including a swimming pool and waterfall
The Tiki hut bedroom is seen on the right, at the self made tropical house
The Tiki hut bedroom looks like it had come straight out of Polynesia but was actually in Miamii
Her living room and kitchen became a sanctuary for her, her children and grandchildren
Chasser’s bedroom was set in this Tiki hut, complete with its straw roof
So far, her fundraising page has amassed a total $4,215 in donations
Miami-Dade County officials said they wanted to get her property up to date and up to code
Savannah Sparrow feeds goats next to her grandmother Shawnee Chasser’s treehouse
But even tearing down the come in Biscayne Gardens costs money with having to dish out an additional $30,000 on top of other expenses she has already made, according to CBS News Miami.
On her GoFundMe page she has itemized all the money she has spent on her oasis so far.
‘Contractor $2,000, Architect $2,500, Lawyer $2,500, Seminole Bloodline Certificate $800, Repairs and kitchen tare [sic] down $10,000, New Home structure $5,000, to allow tare [sic] down of old treehouse.’
To afford her mortgage and utility bills Chasser rents her house out to more than five tenants.
So far, her fundraising page has amassed a total $4,215 in donations to help her ‘comply with Code, save her home and still be able to feed and raise her two grandchildren.’
Her donation goal is set at $50,000 which will go towards paying off her accumulated fines and help her afford her next outdoor structure.