Man living in a van while building house irritates neighbors with lack of progress

Man Fights to Keep Unconventional Home
Man Fights to Keep Unconventional Home

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Everyone has a different idea of what home looks like. In one Independence neighborhood, people don't think it should be a van parked on a residential lot.

But there's a reason why that man chose to live off the grid.

Joseph Stark left a message for his neighbors right in front of his property. It's a sign that says: "Rome was not built in a day." He's asking for a little time and patience while he builds his house.

"This the foundation, the building blocks to my American dream," said Stark as he pointed to the concrete driveway he built.

"This is done with nothing but a rake and a sledgehammer," he explained.

His driveway is a work in progress, much like his house which has yet to be built. For now, home is on four wheels.

"I have everything but running water. I shower at 24-Hour Fitness," he said.

Stark bought the parcel of land in Independence seven months ago. His lack of progress is irritating neighbors.

"He needs to go buy his own home or stay in a motel until he builds his house there," said Chris Taylor. He's lived in Independence for 10 years.

Taylor isn't just singling Stark, he's blowing the whistle on all the code violations he spots in the neighborhood.

"About a lot of my neighbors who are putting trash out on their yards, parking cars without tags and on the wrong side of the street," he said.

The city says it's monitoring the issue and will also look into Stark's situation. As of now, it says he is in violation of one code. It states that you can't live in a motorized vehicle on a residential lot.

"I own this land. I'm not doing anything to jeopardize anyone on this land. I don't see why it's anyone's concern," Stark said.

That's why he's responded with a message of his own: "A special thank you to the neighbor that complained to the city about this property. That was very neighborly of you. Next time, talk to me."

Stark says he's meeting with the city Friday morning to see what his options are.

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