As the owner of a beautiful lot of land on the Big Island of Hawaii… you would never expect someone to simply let themselves in and put their house on your lot, without your permission. The idea seems unthinkable! And yet, that is just what happened to one Puna woman in a recent news headline “Property owner stunned after $500,000 house built on the wrong lot.” by Daryl Huff at Hawaii News Now. This article outlines how a Hawaii Island home builder built a house on the wrong lot, and the broker then sold the house. 

In this particular case, not only was the home built on the wrong lot… a Hawaii real estate broker also sold that house… creating a whole slew of other problems for the actual owner of the land. To get to this level of craziness is a rare occurrence, but oddly enough, this type of situation happens more often than one might think.

Having been immersed in the real estate field for the last 8 years, I have seen it all, and then some. I once sold a house that was partially built on the neighboring lot. My buyer was ok with it being for sale, because they also owned the adjacent lot. We couldn’t help but question how it was even permitted to be built over two entirely different lots of land.

I encountered another situation, where I had two separate builders, both of whom were skilled and had an array of experience. One of them managed to clear the wrong lot… while the other got as far as installing a septic tank and a concrete slab on the property, before discovering that they had built these amenities on the wrong lot. This type of scenario can be a common mishap with construction companies and home builders in Hawaii. However, getting it close enough doesn’t count for this type of situation. 

The “moral” of the story is that these kinds of mistakes can easily happen, just by transposing a number or looking at plans wrong. Always be diligent about double and triple checking that the plot of land one is building upon, is the right one. The home design shouldn’t be the only focus of your Big Island housing plans. These issues do occur frequently, but are usually caught before it gets to the point of the first article.

The best advice for helping prevent these kinds of “disasters” would be to hire a licensed surveyor professional to mark the property boundaries. The owner can also check with the county records of the location of the property, even utilizing the GPS coordinates. Please note, however, that the county records and GPS should NEVER be used as the main source of obtaining the location information. They should only be a way to double check the surveyor. 

Long story short, there are several recommended ways to make 100% sure you are building at the correct location… but before you build, make sure to pay for a professional surveyor, who is both licensed and insured.

Written by Jonathan Remund