Oops! City Demolishes Wrong Vacant House


A Texas couple's plans to relocate to a lake house in Fort Worth hit a snag when the city demolished the vacant home by mistake. The three-bedroom ranch house near the Lake Worth reservoir was razed by a city-hired crew last week, reports KDFW in Fort Worth, instead of another vacant property on the same street, and despite warnings to the wreckers from a neighbor that they were at the wrong address.

"We looked up there and sure enough, it's gone," the home's owner, David Underwood, told the TV station, describing how he and his wife happened to notice it missing. Underwood added that the house, although unoccupied, had been in his family for decades and that he and his wife expected to move there soon, when they became empty-nesters.

The city acknowledged the error and said that it was looking into how the company hired by Fort Worth to do the job ended up at the wrong address. The amount that the midcentury-style house was worth remains undetermined, KDFW noted, but The Dallas Morning News reported that the owner is expected to get compensation.

"A mistake was made," the newspaper quoted the city's director of code compliance as saying. "We have to identify where the weak link was and fix that so it doesn't happen again. We need to look at all of our upcoming demolitions, and double- and triple-check these things to make sure everybody has dotted the i's and crossed the t's."

A similar mistake was made on a larger scale in Detroit, where a dozen homes sold at auction were mistakenly razed in late 2012. In that case, The Detroit News reported, the city pointed the finger at Michigan's Land Bank Fast Track Authority -- which leveled the structures as part of a program to end blight near schools. However, the state said that the 12 homes shouldn't even have been sold at auction but had been judged "vacant and dangerous" by fire officials and ordered demolished months earlier.