Vacation Home Built on Wrong Lot

January 30, 2019by Brandon Banks

This story was first published in 2014. It is a relatively old story. But, it is a great example of the unforeseen issues that can occur with real estate transactions. Believe it or not, despite all the regulations, and paperwork involved in real estate transactions, this issue occurs more often than you might think.

Published in early 2015, the following post came from the archives of our first website.

Building on the correct lot may seem simple enough: hire a land surveyor to identify a property’s legal boundaries. Well apparently, for one couple who built a vacation rental house in Florida, the process was not as simple as it may sound.

Couple builds huge custom house on wrong lot

A Missouri couple built a three-story vacation rental home in the gated Ocean Hammock resort community. In 2012, the couple purchased a lot in the community for $160,000. They hired a company to design and build a 5,000-square-foot house on the property to be used as a vacation rental property.

The house is impressive: five bedrooms, five and half bathrooms, a home theater, game room, and screened-in-pool. The house has an estimated construction value of $680,000.

The house, however, has one major flaw: it is located on the wrong lot. For some unexplained reason, the house was mistakenly built on the neighboring lot. According the owners, the error occurred back in 2013 when the land surveyor misplaced stakes, and as a result, the foundation survey and all other measurements were based on the wrong starting point.

Construction therefore commenced on the incorrect lot. No one noticed the error until the final survey, completed six months after the home was already built and hundreds of thousands of dollars were already spent.

The owner was shocked to learn that the land surveyor may have caused the error because the company “is not a fly-by-night surveyor. They are one of the most experienced in the [resort community].” The lack of distinguishing landmarks or lot markers in the area may have contributed to the error and may have been the reason why the error was not discovered until the final survey.

The couple also owns 18 other residential lots in the community and has not experienced any similar problems with the other lots. Now unfortunately, the owners have to work to find a resolution with the owners of the lot where the property was built, as well as the builder, and the land surveying company.

A relatively simple concept—building a property on the correct lot—has turned into a significant headache for the couple and may cost them thousands of dollars in legal fees and settlement expenses.

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