“We are in total disbelief, just amazed this could happen,” said Mark Voss, owner with Brenda Voss, of the luxury home constructed on the wrong property. The Voss’ new home has five bedrooms, 5.5 baths, ocean views, enviable amenities such as a theater and game-room, but sits on the property adjacent to the Voss’ in the gated Ocean Hammock resort community. The error was missed by all involved, including the property owners, the builder (Keystone Homes,) county building inspectors, and last-but-not-least, East Coast Land Surveying in Ormond Beach.
In a bit of magnanimity Robbie Richmond, VP of Keystone Homes said, “The buck stops with the builder. We know that. We are in the process of trying to schedule a conference call and find a fair resolution without the lawyers. .. I have built about 600 homes in Flagler County and this has never happened to me before. It does happen, but it’s rare.” But Richmond went on to add that East Coast land surveying put stakes on the wrong property.
Flagler County chief building official Mark Boyce was more to the point; “We rely on the surveyor. They are state licensed professionals and we count on them to get it right.”
Indeed, the surveyor is ultimately responsible for this fiasco. The builder did the right thing by hiring one. He could have built the house on the wrong lot all by himself. Land surveyors are the only professionals qualified to investigate, make appropriate measurements, and relay the correct locations of property boundaries to relevant parties. The buck will legally stop with the surveying company. Hopefully they are well insured.
How could this happen, you ask? Such an error is much easier to make than one might think. I do not know the particular subdivision configuration in this case, but I can guess. The error is especially easy to make when a lot is one in a long series of lots with identical dimensions, like so:
A lot series can go on like this for thousands of feet. The only way to ensure that you are on the correct lot in a series of identical lots is to measure laterally from some fixed point, usually the next intersecting street, and compare with the platted measurements. If there is an identifying marker or sign on the lot, one can get into big trouble by just assuming that it is correct. One must always check. Checking, or investigating, is the land surveyor’s first responsibility. That’s why we’re hired.