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What happens if a structure gets built on the wrong lot?

You want a new building to be constructed, and you hire a local company to do the job. You talk over the details and give them the information that they need. Maybe it's a family home, a vacation home or a new base of operations for your company. Regardless, you then step back and put your time and energy into your own career, waiting for them to finish the job.

When you arrive to look at the now completed structure, you discover something you never imagined: Through some mix-up, they built the structure on the wrong lot. It's your building. It's your design. Those are your materials. But that's not your land. Now what?

As you can imagine, this does not happen often. Construction companies tend to be very careful, and mistakes may also appear long before the project is complete -- such as when they're pouring the foundation.

That said, it has happened before. In one case, a home was built on the empty lot right next to the one the person already owned. Rather than trying to tear it down or move it, the two property owners were able to work out a deal where they each got the other person's deed. However, the values of the two lots were not identical, so the person whose home was in the wrong location had to pay an extra $20,000 for the right to the lot their home was on.

Not all construction mistakes are this costly or this surprising, but they do happen. Those involved must know what rights and options they have.

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