Couple Builds Custom Beach House on Wrong Lot

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A beach-side house in Florida sounds like many people’s definition of a dream home. However, for one Missouri couple, this reality has turned into a nightmare: six months after building a home on a Flagler County beach, they have learned that their house was built on the wrong lot.

Mark and Brenda Voss currently own 19 residential lots in Ocean Hammock, a gated community along the Atlantic Ocean and not far from the city of Palm Coast. In 2012, they hired Keystone Homes to build a 5,300-square-foot home on one of these lots, which they planned to use for vacation rentals. The three-story, five bedroom, 5 1/2 bathroom home cost $680,000 to build, and the Vosses promptly began renting out the property. It wasn’t until September 2014 that a surveyor working nearby realized the house had mistakenly been built on the lot next door, which the couple does not own.

While this may seem like a major error on behalf of the construction company, the Flager County property appraiser and the director of the Flager County Home Builders Association have both said that the problem occurred when the property was surveyed: when surveyors from East Coast Land Surveying visited the lot, they incorrectly marked the stakes for the home, causing Keystone Homes to begin construction in the wrong location. Both commented that this type of mistake happens more often than one might expect.

Unfortunately, this common incident could have serious repercussions for the Vosses: because the property appraiser will be required to assess the home for the upcoming tax year, the owner of the lot could be billed for a home they never decided to build. This could cause the property owner to seek legal action for the mistake. In the end, the Vosses may have to pay a significant sum in addition to the money already spent building a custom home, which likely came with luxury features that could not be found in a pre-existing home. The couple has hired a lawyer, and Keystone Homes is reportedly trying to negotiate a settlement.

As unlikely as it may seem, this problem might become even more popular due to the changing face of Florida real estate: as properties in Florida become more affordable, research shows that out-of-state buyers like the Vosses have become a significant part of the industry, spending $1.5 billion more than in-state residents. Some of these foreign buyers are from nearby Latin American countries and the Caribbean, but a third of these people are from Canada, making it difficult for them to keep an eye on the progress of their custom built homes.

The Flagler County property appraiser reported that he has spoken to the owner of the lot the home was built on, and while the man is understandably upset, he has been sympathetic. The property appraiser has suggested that the Vosses and the lot owner change lots, or that the Vosses simply buy the lot their house is on.

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