Welcome monk! Glad you've joined us.
I, too, am sorry to hear that someone swiped your father's pit. Grrrrrrrrr, makes me so mad
every time I hear about something like this.
The size or cost of a pit isn't important if it does what you want/need for it to do for you. Over the years, I've eaten some fine meals from those disposable aluminum foil grills, $20 tabletop Sunbeam gasser, and even a grate set on a few rocks. Even today, for some cooks, I'd rather have a small grill (habachi) than to fire up the CG, for example.
While I haven't done it yet, there are a number of folks here who've used planks. So, the advice should be forthcoming soon. I do want to do some, too, so I'll be reading those replies right along with you.