A Hawaii judge ordered the demolition of a house after a California woman bought a vacant plot, only to discover the building on her land

    The judge ordered PJ’s Construction to pay for the house’s demolition. [The photo is for illustrative purposes only and does not show the house in question.]

    Waltraud Ingerl/Getty Images

    A construction company in Hawaii has to foot the bill for the demolition of a house it built on the wrong lot, a judge ruled.A woman who lives in California bought the plot for $22,500 and planned to build a retreat.The construction company built the house on the wrong plot after incorrectly identifying it using telephone poles.

    A house mistakenly built on the wrong plot of land in Hawaii is set to be knocked down after a developer got it confused with the neighboring lot. A judge ordered the construction company that made the mistake to foot the bill for the demolition.

    Annaleine “Anne” Reynolds bought the one-acre plot of land in Hawaiian Paradise Park on Hawaii’s Big Island for $22,500 at a tax auction in 2018.

    Reynolds, who lives in California, previously told Business Insider she had planned to use the land for a home for her children as well as to host women’s retreats, but said in legal filings that she discovered in June 2023 that a house worth roughly $500,000 had been built on the plot.

    PJ’s Construction, which was contracted by Keaau Development to build twelve properties in Hawaiian Paradise Park, mistakenly built the property on the wrong plot after using telephone poles to try to identify Lot 115 — but accidentally built it on Lot 114, the other side of the telephone pole, per legal filings.

    Patrick John Lawrence, Jr., the owner of PJ’s Construction, said that he was first made aware that the property had been built on the wrong lot when he was informed by the real-estate agent after the house was sold.

    Keaau Development then sued Reynolds, claiming she was “unjustly enriched” by the property.

    PJ’s Construction has to pay for the demolition of the house on Reynolds’s property, Judge Robert D. S. Kim wrote in an order on Monday, viewed by BI. The company may seek contribution or indemnity from Keaau Development at a subsequent trial or hearing, Kim wrote.

    Reynolds had also asked for the court to order Keaau Development and PJ’s Construction to restore the plot of land to its original state. To build the house, PJ’s Construction had bulldozed the lot, which “removed all of the previously standing native vegetation,” Kim wrote. After this, there was a “long period of neglect,” during which invasive Albizia trees were able to “infest” the lot, he wrote.

    As well as building the house, PJ’s Construction also installed a septic tank and a catchment water system.

    But Kim wrote that it was ‘”impossible” to return the property to its original state.

    The companies had “seriously disturbed the peaceable use, enjoyment, and possession of real property,” Kim wrote.

    Reynolds had testified that her property taxes for the plot shot up after the house was constructed and that she found signs of squatting such as empty drink containers and human waste in the toilet and on the floor.

    Keaau Development and PJ’s Construction excavated the lot and built the house without a survey as part of a plan to “cut corners to reduce construction costs,” Kim wrote in Monday’s filing. And because the construction permits were approved for Lot 115, not Lot 114, the house is illegal, he wrote.

    The case is still ongoing, with a trial scheduling conference currently set for the end of July.

    “We are thrilled with the court’s decision that PJ’s Construction must bear the costs of demolishing the unauthorized structure on Anne Reynolds’ property,” Reynolds’ lawyer, James D. DiPasquale, told BI.

    “This ruling not only preserves Anne’s property rights but also sets a precedent for accountability in the construction industry. While it’s regrettable that the land cannot be restored to its original state, the judgment underscores the importance of meticulous adherence to property and zoning laws.”

    Business Insider was not immediately able to contact lawyers for PJ’s Construction, and did not immediately receive a response from Keaau’s attorney.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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