GPS Blamed After Crew Demolishes The Wrong House

One Georgia family is understandably distraught after the house their father built by hand was demolished without warning by a crew that says they were given GPS coordinates rather than an address. The home was currently empty — but contained irreplaceable heirlooms.

“We had heirlooms in thereÖmy mom’s dining room setÖher hutch with her dishes in there,” the homeowner told WSBTV.

The demolition company said it had paperwork.

“I said, ëPaperwork for what?’ and he said, ëFor the house, to demolish the house.’ I said, ëI’m the owner of the house, I haven’t given anybody any authority to demolish this house,’” said [the homeowner]….

“I said, ëWhat address did you have?’ and he said, ëThey sent me some GPS coordinates.’ I said, ëDon’t you have an address?’ (and) he said, ëYes, my GPS coordinates led me right to this address here and this house was described,’” said [the homeowner].

[The homeowner] said he suspects the intended target was actually across the road.

The report also said that about a month ago the power box had mysteriously been removed and holes punched into the walls. They thought it was vandalism at the time, but now think that the company was preparing to demolish the house.

Guess there’s still something to be said for an address and a map. Oh, and maybe a photo of the house would have helped, too.

Homeowner Says Crews Demolished Wrong House [WSBTV via Consumer Reports]

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  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    How in the hell can you demolish a house based on GPS coordinates? I don’t see any possibility that you could get “paperwork” for such a job without an actual street address. I see no chance of that happening at all.

    • Bob Lu says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: In the mean while, it is OK to bomb a target based on GPS coordinates…

      • GavinEstecado says:

        @Bob Lu: Excellent point. Now this happening doesn’t seem all that unlikely….

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Bob Lu: Arguably defense satellites have more accuracy than a TomTom.

      • breese524 says:

        @Bob Lu: The civilian GPS system is designed to be off by as much as x feet. I don’t recall what number x is. Military GPS is dead on accurate.

        • nakedscience says:

          @breese524: 20 or 30, depending on who you talk to.

          • MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

            @nakedscience: @breese524: IIRC, this WAS the initial plan, but due to the ADA, they could not do it b/c then GPS units for the blind would have them walking into the wrong buildings.

            Besides, even IF you encrypted it, the decryption code would be figured out very quickly, as making a synchronized code jumping device for a million+ military units would be a logistical nightmare, and as soon as one gets lost, well, you’re screwed.

            • MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

              @MakinSense…ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave: I should qualify that for extreme precision for perhaps a one time trip(missile) or a small fleet doing a mission, you COULD do a “one time” cypher that could be updated to certain units/devices and also changed in the satellite(s) easily. But for general naviagtion, both civilian and military, they get pretty much the same info. I mean, if someone can send a missile over here, does it really matter if they are within ~50 feet of the target rather than dead on target, as we would be notified of the incoming bogey.

            • Wrathernaut says:

              @BennyMigrationWitness_GitEmSteveDave: The crypto changes monthly, and only used in active devices where precision of that magnitude is necessary, although all standard PLUGR and DAGR can take the crypto fills.

              When you have one or more people per battalion responsible for refreshing the fills, the logistical nightmare isn’t that bad.

        • philpem says:

          @breese524: 10 metres typical accuracy if you’re using the C/A code (coarse/acquisition; read “unencrypted civilian GPS”).

          Military GPS gear is rumoured to be able to have roughly twice the accuracy (by using the higher-transmit-rate encrypted “P” code)… but you need encryption keys for that. Good luck getting the Air Force to give you those.

        • johnva says:

          @breese524: Your information is outdated. GPS WAS like that, until May 1st 2000, when they turned off Selective Availability (which is the pseudorandom error that was added to GPS signals to make “civilian” GPS inaccurate). It’s no longer the case that they add that error (although there are other sources of error in GPS signals). Basically, they’ve decided that since GPS is so used in civilian applications now, they don’t have a need to do that (especially since they now also have the ability to turn it on selectivity in a geographic region).

          • Matthew Berkhan says:

            @johnva: If I remember correctly Selective Availability was introduced to prevent the enemy in combat zones from having as accurate data as our military. Clinton signed the order to have it turned off after the Army developed a way to completely block any GPS signal in a given area except to their equipment.

            As for accuracy my G1 can be accurate up to a couple feet. Many times I have been in a parking lot, started Google maps and had it show me the exact parking spot I was sitting in.

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @breese524: You’re talking about “selective availability,” which was turned off during the Clinton era.

      • Psychicsword says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: I believe(though I may be mistaken) that the consumer end GPS units use the military satellites. The real difference is the precision of the computers built in to the units and the fact that the military gets the choose where the satellites are in orbit. Plus I would guess that the sensitivity of the military’s GPS devices have a better range than a TomTom.

        • silver-bolt says:

          @Psychicsword: GPS satalites broadcast two sets of information. Unencrypted, civilain information, and encrypted channel Army info. The only hardware difference between military and civilian gps is (aside from nifty options) the decryption hardware needed to access the army info. If the government had a reason to believe the enemy is using GPS for movement to or from army interests, they can disable the civilain broadcast, or make it even more inaccurate, without messing with military gps.

          • galonar says:

            @silver-bolt: what most users don’t realize is that there is more to GPS than just the satellites in the constellation. The previous commenters are correct in that there are two broadcast signals, the more accurate of which is encrypted and for military use. However, the C/A code is augmented by a series of ground stations in North and South America collectively known as the Wide Area Augmentation System. They provide civilian receivers (that are enables for WAAS use) accuracy of about 1 meter. Newer civilian receivers can also improve accuracy of the base signal using parts of the encrypted signal.

        • rorschachex says:

          @Psychicsword: The satellites are in circular plane orbits, the military can’t choose where they’ll be. No matter where you are in the world, you’re in range of at least 6 satellites, you only need 4 to have a GPS location (x,y,z,t).
          Military and civilian GPS access is similar accuracy, the difference between GPS for personal use and GPS on a guided missile has to do with intertial navigation + GPS, eliminating the natural GPS errors that come from transmission and the satellites growing inaccurate over time.
          GPS III will operate at a much higher frequency than the current GPS which will give the military much more accurate positioning as well as the ability to correct the cesium clocks in the satellites. GPS III will also reintroduce C/A using a different method not to interfere with civilian/commercial applications.
          I’m pretty sure there are no plans to allow civilians/commercial enterprises use of GPS III satellites.

        • ZukeZuke says:

          @Psychicsword: You are mistaken. The biggest factor in accuracy is that the military also utilizes several additional satellites that are unavailable for civilian use (encrypted signal), hence the increased reference points makes military GPS accuracy extremely precise.

          This is not by accident.

    • nakedscience says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: It shouldn’t happen but I’m not at all surprised.

    • johnva says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: What is really ridiculous is not the use of GPS here. It’s that they apparently didn’t cross-check the information they got from the GPS coordinates.

      Even if GPS were 100% accurate, it would be unacceptable to demolish a house based on that alone, because there is always the possibility of a clerical error, etc, with someone writing down the wrong coordinates, etc.

    • citizensmith: I may be stupid but: says:

      @YouDidWhatNow?: Wow, some seriously outdated GPS info here. I guess the survey unit we have that is accurate to a couple millimeters is from some alternate dimension where the military gave up encrypting this stuff years ago. And the little trimble hand held I use that is accurate to about a 30 centimeters gets that accuracy by magic. Yes, recreational units are less accurate, 15 to 30 feet. But come on people if you are going to post, try and make it based in reality.

  2. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    GPS is really replacing common sense. I had a guy try to come to my office, and while he was from the area, followed the GPS’s instructions to head into Downtown Crossing (not South Boston) instead of using his brain and going over the bridge into South Boston (where he was from).

    And don’t get me started on my parents getting lost everytime they come to my house even though they have GPS.

    • BigPapaCherry says:

      @Fuzzy_duffel_bag: I’m waiting for the first story when someone drives into a body of water a la Michael Scott of the Office because the GPS told them to.

      • alexcassidy says:

        @OMG? BigPapaCherry doesn’t get it?: It’s happened quite a few times, actually. It just usually doesn’t get big headlines

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          @alexcassidy: Oh lordy, I always thought that the commercial where the guy drives into a building because the GPS told him to turn was a joke. (The GPS says something to the effect of “…in X feet/blocks” after he’s crashed)

      • Smashville says:

        @OMG? BigPapaCherry doesn’t get it?: My GPS took me down an access road in Illinois instead of the main drag…in the dark, on an unlit street…and kept telling me to make an immediate left…which, since it was an access road without guardrails, for the next mile or so would have been the Ohio River.

      • Karita says:

        @OMG? BigPapaCherry doesn’t get it?: I actually came extremely close to that happening one time. Ended up almost entirely on the sandy beach of a small lake. Thank goodness I was going slow because it had me driving down a dirt road. I knew something was wrong, but I’m glad I realized in time just how wrong it was!

    • Etoiles says:

      @Fuzzy_duffel_bag: I’d never have been able to make it through our first year in NoVA/DC without a GPS (the roads make almost as much sense as Boston’s, pre- and during- Big Dig), but there are times it definitely hasn’t caught up to reality. They rebuilt an overpass between here and our wedding venue and no-one’s maps seem to be updated for it. Looking forward to all 85 guests getting lost in an endless loop through Alexandria…

    • aliceblue says:

      @Fuzzy_duffel_bag: Well, according to my GPS my cousin lives in a lake.

    • Bob Lu says:

      @Fuzzy_duffel_bag: Honestly my Tomtomt works greatly and the routes it plans are very often better than my own judgment. (I have to admit I am not very good in figuring out routes.) So I can see why people tend to fall into this. Very rarely when it DOES screw up, you trust it too much to know better.

  3. SybilDisobedience says:

    Wow, how awful. What a shame they lost all those priceless family heirlooms. That company must be mortified at the mistake they made.

  4. El_Fez says:

    Didnt this happen to Bugs Bunny once? The correct response can only be “Of course you know, this means war!”

  5. Quilt says:

    I wonder what type of GPS unit they were using, because if it cost anywhere under $200, it likely only gives an accuracy of about 20 feet. On a day with bad satellite reception, this can be make far, far worse. Hell, on a bad enough day, even an expensive Trimble unit could become fairly inaccurate.

    There’s something to be said for having an address that can be physically checked. Hope these people sue the ever-living hell out this demolition company.

    • Bob Lu says:

      @Quilt: My $65 GPS data logger will record me changing lane. The GPS navigation device is usually much less precise, tho.

    • XTC46 says:

      @Quilt: It depends on your location. On the freeway, the GPS on my phone will show my lane changes in real time becasue it can calculate based on 9+ satellites at a time. In my apartment, it only gets 3-5 satellites and is usually within about 20 yards. If it only has 1-2 sats in view, it down to about 100 yards.

    • cerbie says:

      @Quilt: The GPS could be dead on, but the map might be. Not all maps fed to the GPSes are perfect. In fact, many are off by many yards, have different (older?) address numbering, may show the road where it was originally planned (which may be 20-50 feet off from where it had to be fit into the land), etc..

      There is no excuse for not having an address, and verifying that it is the correct building. It’s not like that’d be hard to do…

      Well, I hope one less contractor will be operating in my state, soon.

    • aja175 says:

      @Quilt:
      Maybe they were using the iPhone “GPS” Accurate to about a mile.

  6. OminousG says:

    Someone is about to get sued into oblivion…

  7. SadSam says:

    How awful, did they have a permit for demo that covered the proper address based on the wrong coordinates??

    And while I understand how helpful GPS can be, it seems to be taking the common sense out of following driving directions or even knowing which way is north vs. south.

  8. jdmba says:

    Commercial (non-military) GPS is off by 30 feet. Assuming the coordinates were not dead center of the house, an error is easy.

    • johnva says:

      @jdmba: Not true. Most GPS (except for cheap consumer models) is augmented with data correction to make it much more accurate than that.

      • breese524 says:

        @johnva: While commercial navigation GPS can correct itself on a map. A handheld unit that one might use to go to a precise corrdinate could be 30 ft off.

        • johnva says:

          @breese524: No, there are handheld ones that have realtime correction.

          • jurisenpai says:

            @johnva: Not to mention with VRS networks, you can easily get sub-centimeter realtime accuracy with the appropriate equipment.

            Or for 2k, 3-5 meters, which is accurate enough to prevent demolition of the wrong house.

    • MrEvil says:

      @jdmba: Total Bunk there. Auto-steer systems for tractors and chemical applicators have to be incredibly precise so as not to waste product/seed with excessive overlap and not leave gaps between passes. The cheapy consumer GPS systems are the 30′ kind and most of them can correct your posistion to be within the confines of the roadway.

      • Omniboy says:

        @MrEvil: I agree, even my iPhone gets within 17ft. Commerical grade GPS can pinpoint to within 3mm. You don’t see high resolution in Personal Nagivation devices because it would be overkill, you don’t need 3mm precision when driving on the highyway, and for Consumer applications being one or two houses off while annoying is accepable, not to mention 3mm accuracy would kill your device battery, make it much larger, and 10x as expensive.

  9. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I can’t believe that the company hasn’t said anything yet. What happened to damage control? What happened to taking it seriously?

  10. Sarcastikate says:

    This is unbelievable….and I’m sure that shortcuts were taken. I would think that the demolition company would have to go the municipality to ensure the correct section, block, lot, etc. We use these machines to save us work, rather than using brains, common sense and good old fashioned work. GPS units are supposed to be an aid to travel, we can’t check our brains into the glovebox! There’s a railroad crossing in my county that is near a major highway entrance. Some dope a few years ago actually made a right-hand turn onto the friggin railroad tracks and claimed that the GPS told him to make a right….so he DID. (Geeez, that road looks like tracks, but since the GPS says to make a right, that’s what I’m doin!!). Barely got out of the car in time, commuter train hit the car causing $100K damages to the train – which they are suing the driver for, and rightly so. Most folks driving nowadays have no business doing so.

  11. edwardso says:

    What a terrible story, but I have to wonder did they verify that any furniture was in the house?

    • nakedscience says:

      @edwardso: You have to wonder what now?

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      @edwardso: Furniture? I’m wondering if they even verified if there were any people in the house.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @edwardso: Why would it matter? They destroyed a house and various heirlooms. The house itself is valuable, even if it’s considered that the heirlooms may have held no monetary significance (only sentimental).

      • edwardso says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: I was speaking more to the fact that many people who go through the destruction of a home inflate the value of the items in the home. I’m not saying they are definitely being dishonest, and they should be compensated, but it sounds a little off to keep precious items in an unoccupied house that they suspected had been vandalized a month before

        • nakedscience says:

          @edwardso: It’s possible they were in the process of moving the stuff out, or were making plans to but didn’t have a place to put it yet, and we don’t know if they upped the security once the “vandalism” was found out.

          But it certainly doesn’t matter either way.

        • silver-bolt says:

          @edwardso: They were planning to use the house for a family reunion.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @edwardso: So what you’re trying to say is, that you’re not trying to blame the victim, but really you’re just going to go ahead and blame them anyway?

      It’s like you’re saying, “Geez, I’m sorry to hear that your home was destroyed. But we, the Internet-jury, really need some proof that you had possessions in the house. Any sensible person (i.e., me) would have emptied the house at the first sign of vandalism. Assume fraud first, ask questions later. You know how it is.”

  12. tungstencoil says:

    Wow… just… wow…

    I wonder how this will work out? I have a co-workers whose neighbors purchased a foreclosure from the bank right as it was foreclosed. Problem was… the bank forgot to tell the “we’ll clean it out for you” company, who went in just after they started to move in, and hauled away all of their (boxed up) possessions.

  13. AlexDitto says:

    Oh, but they had to do it; they were just making room for the new hyperspace bypass.

    I hear the plans had been filled and were freely viewable at the main office on Alpha Centauri…

    What an awful thing to happen.

  14. ScottCh says:

    Glad nobody was at home, sleeping, perhaps hard of hearing… :-P

  15. greatgoogly says:

    Depending on the size of the companies involved, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them simply file bankruptcy and the family will get nothing. The owners of course will reform another corporation and they will go on their own merry incompetent way.

    • MikeF74 says:

      @greatgoogly: I was thinking along the same lines. If it’s some tiny demolition company with little to no insurance, then the owner could be out of luck. I wonder what his homeowner’s insurance would cover? Hopefully his homeowner’s insurance takes care of it ASAP, and it is them who is left to sue others.

      • Major-General says:

        @MikeF74: I’m betting the homeowners insurance would find a way to make it an “act of God”.

        • TreyWaters says:

          @Major-General: I’m betting the homeowners insurance would find a way to make it an “act of God”.

          As Commander-In-Chief, Obama is head of the military, and hence military property (GPS Satellites). And being the Savior, he is God. Ergo, the GPS sending the demo crew to the wrong location was due to an act of God.

    • MrEvil says:

      @greatgoogly: Generally speaking I’m pretty sure Demolition contractors have to put up a very sizable bond AND carry a hefty insurance policy. Bankruptcy won’t protect them from losing that bond if the homeowners sued.

    • usa_gatekeeper says:

      @greatgoogly: If the property owners were quick, maybe they could’ve “padlocked” or otherwise made the equipment immobile and refused to let the equipment be removed from their premises, i.e., possession = attachment, pending settlement.

  16. JGKojak says:

    What idiots. They should probably have their license revoked.

    • MikeF74 says:

      I’m not from Georgia, but in the two states I’ve lived notices need to be affixed to properties well before actual demolition.

      I wonder if the man actually lived there. His lawn care guy is the one who noticed the electrical box missing and holes drilled. His cousin called him late at night to let him know what happened. I have a feeling the house was vacant (perhaps since the passing of a family member or something). If that was the case, then such notices would likely go unnoticed.

      Still, none of that excuses the demolition company (and whoever hired them and passed along nothing more than GPS coordinates). For this guy’s sake, I hope it was a large company with deep pockets so he gets an appropriate settlement.

  17. HiPwr says:

    Is there such a thing as a demolition permit from the city? If not, perhaps there should be.

  18. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    Perhaps most distressing:

    “Moore tried to contact the Texas company, but her calls have not been returned.”

    I can picture some frazzled exec hiding under his desk as the phone rings above him. If you don’t pick up, they can’t sue you!

  19. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    GPS is fuzzy, but I suspect that the estimator/rep who made the initial visit, scoped out the project & wrote down the description & coordinates was the one making the original error. The sub-contractor knocked down the house as described.

    Still, a demolition permit is required that ties to a property lot number. Is it possible to get a demolition permit on your neighbor’s house?

  20. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Aiiieee, next thing we know, the Vogons are going to use something similar and come destroy Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass!!!

  21. Gokuhouse says:

    I wonder what the company is doing for the family in the meantime. Since they have no house to speak of I would assume they were put up in a very nice hotel. I can only imagine what the company will try to do to make things right, hopefully they really do take it seriously or they will likely be sued out business.

  22. chenry says:

    I don’t even know what to say. That is beyond insane.

  23. Smashville says:

    Wouldn’t they have had to apply for a demolition permit?

  24. breese524 says:

    Something tells me that there is more to this story. The house that was demolished had it’s power disconnected. So, I don’t think just the demolition company had bad information.

    • DoubleEcho says:

      @breese524: Please re-read the article. The electrical box was taken off of the house in preparation for demolition, along with holes put into the walls. Whether the power was off or on doesn’t matter, people who leave their secondary residences for a period of time shut off utilities too.

      • GildaKorn says:

        @DoubleEcho: Why didn’t the family have the power box put back on the house right away? That seems really bizarre, even if the house is vacant.

        Did the power company think it was vandalism, too? Did they even call the power company?

        “Byrd said he suspects the intended target was actually across the road.”

        Suspects? Has he contacted the owner of that house to find out? This is bizarre on multiple levels.

        • Skaperen says:

          @GildaKorn: If it was not occupied, there was probably no urgency in having it put back. It would cost them money to put it back (the power company does not do these things for free, even if it is vandalism as the owner initially suspected). So they are just waiting for now instead of spending money to restore something they think may just be vandalized again.

          Bizarre story? Perhaps. It isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened (just the first I’ve heard of it being based on GPS coordinates). But it is NOT at all bizarre to delay repairs of what is believed to be vandalism. It might have been prudent to file a police report, but that might not have connected the effort in progress to demolish that house.

          The company needs to pay up big time, fast, or pay more for both lawyers.

    • Skaperen says:

      @breese524: Maybe the demolition company had the power company remove the electrical box. If the electrical service had been turned off during the period it was not occupied, the power company would not question this.

    • Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

      @breese524: Just because I have a car in my yard with the wheels taken off doesn’t give somebody the right to come along and haul it off to the crusher!

    • liz.lemonade says:

      @breese524: Then the demolition company should have its lawyers say that the right house was indeed demolished, and provide paperwork to prove it, thus saving further damage to its reputation. Their silence implies that they know they made a mistake.

  25. guspaz says:

    Sue. I’m Canadian and so usually think suing is a silly knee-jerk or excessive action, but I can’t think of anything more appropriate in this instance. Sue them for every cent you can get.

    I mean, it seems like an open and shut case. A company came and bulldozed their home out of the blue. It doesn’t really matter who told them to, the fact is that they bulldozed their home.

    • silver-bolt says:

      @guspaz: The big difference would be willful or malicious neglect in this case (Or criminal neglect if someone got hurt because of this). Not so open and shut because if the court finds that the company was willfully neglectful or maliciously neglectful, the home owners could get bigger damages or punitive damages awarded.

    • henwy says:

      @guspaz:

      Chances are good they won’t get much of anything. If it were my company, I’d probably declare bankruptcy at a drop of a hat in a case like this. It’d be cheaper to just restart the company.

  26. floraposte says:

    Article with more info here: [abcnews.go.com]

    • Skaperen says:

      @floraposte: And that links to an even better article at [www.times-georgian.com]

      This is at 11 Byrd Trail and the owner is named Byrd. So the street is probably named for the guy that built it. Maybe it was the first house?

      I cannot pin point exactly where that house was. According to the named street on the map, all houses are on one side (a railroad track is on the other side paralleling the street). But the connector street to Cypress Circle is unnamed, and may be considered part of Byrd Trail (I also live on a street that splits with both ways having the same name and different house numbers).

      You can see the satellite plus map at [wikimapia.org]

  27. albear says:

    Shocking! I bet the workers didn’t know how to use GPS because GPS NEVER lies! It’s always correct! ;)

  28. almightytora says:

    They should sue the demolishing company, but they probably only have GPS coordinates to their headquarters, and they’re probably the wrong ones too.

  29. Nathanael Dale Ries says:

    But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

    “Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

    “But the plans were on display …”

    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

    “That’s the display department.”

    “With a flashlight.”

    “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

    “So had the stairs.”

    “But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

    “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

  30. kepler11 says:

    When a house near us was demolished, it had chain link fencing put up around it beforehand, and it was clearly the house that was going to go. What happened here, and did no one on the crew see signs of something being wrong?

  31. Richard Arblaster says:

    I feel sorry for the home owner, human error not GPS error, you can’t blame the tech.

    • Skaperen says:

      @Richard Arblaster: Why not? If the original surveyor for the company went to the right house and entered a bad reading from his GPS, and that bad reading was later used to tear down the wrong house, then it was a GPS error. Or maybe he got the right reading and recorded it correctly, and the tear down crew’s reading was faulty.

      But, they said the description also matched. We need pictures of houses around there to see how alike they may have looked. It could be the company that ordered the demolition gave good GPS numbers, and the first survey guy got to the wrong house because his GPS reading was bad, and entered a description of the wrong house which the tear down crew matched up.

      They may never really know if everyone does finger pointing. It will depend on how accurate the original order was to determine who to blame. Unless those 2 companies figure it out between them and pony up for all the losses, this will be in court.

  32. oneliketadow says:

    I just thought of a great prank! (Since apparently all I need is some GPS coords and I can have someone knock down a house.

  33. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    The demolition company has no excuse. Most people have enough common sense to put two and two together (like noticing the house was full of furniture) and to double and triple check the paperwork. Screwing up might deprive someone of their home, their memories and all their possessions.

    I hope the homeowner sues the demolition company right off the face of the earth.

    • aliceblue says:

      @‚ò†Gr—èr—èr—èr—èr—è sings the doom song now!: I caught a bit of this story on the local news last night, and it sounds like the demo company is trying to pass the blame onto the inspection company.

      The first inspection company with their name that pops up on google doesn’t have a working website right now, but in google cache you can see they previously boasted “SESI possesses over ten years of incident free work.” Interesting timing for their website to disappear!

  34. HogwartsAlum says:

    I just don’t see how they could have done this without some kind of secondary verification.

    I’m not sue-happy, but I would SOOOOOO call a lawyer. I hope the company gets kicked in the ass.

  35. MooseOfReason says:

    Guess how we decide what to blow up in Iraq.

  36. gravitus says:

    Ahh good old GPS….

    I have a relative that would follow GPS down a boat ramp and straight into the lake all the while arguing that TomTom is obviously correct.

  37. Kimberly Gist-Collins says:

    Wow, what a shock. An empty house full of valuable heirlooms. That’s what I do when I move out of a house. I leave family heirlooms.

  38. Skater009 says:

    Well i guess you get a new home :)

  39. Skater009 says:

    Stupid People !!!!! SUE SUE SUE THEM :)

  40. bkdlays says:

    Well at least they will own a demolition company now!

  41. joeblevins says:

    Ths s lttl cs f n nmntnd rsdnc. Hck, thy wr s ncncrnd whn smn dscnnctd th tlts tht thy jst sghd. Th ‘rrplcbl’ hrlms ws ‘crp tht nbdy n th fmly wntd’ wk g. Bt y knw thy wnt t gt pd nw.

    pprct tht sm ntty, t th lst th dm cmpny wll b pyng thm fr thr lss, bt ths fmly s gng t try t ply p th vl f th crp n th hs.

    • nakedscience says:

      @joeblevins: What are you talking about? Just because the heirlooms were sitting in an empty house doesn’t mean that someone didn’t want it. They may not have done anything with them yet, or had another place to put them.

      “This is a little case of an unmaintained residence. “

      A “little” case?! What.

      “The ‘irreplaceable’ heirlooms was ‘crap that nobody in the family wanted’ a week ago. But you know they want to get paid now.”

      OIC, you’ve seen this “crap” and talked to this family?

      ” but this family is going to try to play up the value of the crap in the house.”

      WHO FUCKING CARES? The house was just DEMOLISHED on ACCIDENT and it was FULL OF STUFF.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @joeblevins: You’re kidding, right? They thought the first incidents were vandalism. If they filed a police report, the police might have thought it was simple vandalism too. Anyone looking into the windows could see that there wasn’t anything to be stolen (like a big screen TV), so a simple and reasonable deduction would be it was just unruly people looking to destroy something.

      There’s no mention that they left the house unmaintained, nor is there any mention of how much the family treasured the items. For all you know, the parent died and the family was in the process of moving everything out, hence why there’s no furniture.

      The bottom line is that regardless of the circumstances of the insides of the house, the wrecking crew went to the wrong house and the company are responsible.

      • Anonymous says:

        @pecan 3.14159265:

        Actually, this was a local news story for me. The home owner actually takes care of this house a lot. Even to the point where he hired a landscaper to maintain the yard.

        He found out about the house getting demolished when the landscaper gave him a call at work and said, “uhhh, someone is destroying your house.”

      • David Brodbeck says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Or it was still going through probate, so they couldn’t legally move anything out yet. That happens sometimes.

        • Smashville says:

          @David Brodbeck: If you look at the ABC article, it sounds like the house was left to him and he didn’t want to get rid of it, so they just shared it among family members. And that they were getting ready to have a reunion there.

        • floraposte says:

          @David Brodbeck: It wasn’t an estate, though. So probate’s not really a factor here.

    • nakedscience says:

      @joeblevins: Also, it does not at all matter what was in the house, if they actually wanted the stuff, what plans that they had for the stuff. It matters not at all. The only thing that matters is that the house was DEMOLISHED ON ACCIDENT.

    • Smashville says:

      @joeblevins: Oh this is so getting disemvoweled.

    • MikeF74 says:

      @joeblevins: This did not sound like someone who was pumping up the value of the contents. This sounds like a man who is genuinely sad that family heirlooms have been lost senselessly. Courts award actual damages for property (perhaps trebble damages when gross negligence is involved). But I think they generally avoid price inflation based on sentimentality.

    • Sanshie says:

      It wasn’t an “unmaintained residence”. They guy they hired to do the weekly yard work was the one who called the homeowner when he noticed that something was “a little different” at the house.

    • MrEvil says:

      @joeblevins: y’know, the stuff in that house and the house itself could have been stuck in probate. Often it takes a year for an estate to get out of probate.

    • SacraBos says:

      @joeblevins: Even assuming that, they still lost the structure itself. That has some about of monetary value (as improvements, etc) of the property.

      And frankly, any demolition company that is that negligent in making sure they knock down the right structure needs to be sued to oblivion.

    • Ber'Zophus says:

      @joeblevins: Totally…shame on the OP for having the nerve to ask to be paid back for his stuff that some company just decided to destroy. I mean, heirlooms mean nothing to anyone, right? /sarcasm

      Wow. It still surprises me, and I should know better by now, but it seems no matter what the story on Consumerist, someone, somewhere, will find a way to blame the OP.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      @joeblevins: *cough*troll*cough*

    • Xkeeper says:

      @joeblevins: Yeah, honestly.

      I mean if I go out on vacation for a week and nobody’s going in and out of my house, that’s clearly “unmaintained property”. Even if it’s just a day, if they’re out grocery shopping? Nobody’s home, tear it down.

      What really gets me is… why was there no warnings put up in front of this house? Wouldn’t they have to at least say “WARNING: PROPERTY BEING DEMOLISHED” signs up a day or so before they tear the damn thing down? Even in the case of an abandoned building, what’s going to stop some hobo/drunk from rooming in there and getting crushed when they tear the place apart?

      This company is scum and is probably going to get — rightly — sued into nonexistance.

      I can’t believe the incompetency of people.

      • Xkeeper says:

        @Xkeeper:

        Also, on “they just sighed when their xxxxxx was stolen/broken/whatever”… it’s called vandalism. Depending on the kind of neighborhood it is, vandalism could be fairly common (my father’s truck has been broken into repeatedly, until they caught the bastards that were doing it) … so without any sort of warning, why would they suspect any differently?

  42. reynwrap582 says:

    They just started demolishing a house across the street this morning. I hope they got the right one… Though I suspect that half of it being burned down a couple months ago and surrounded by police tape is a good indication that it’s the correct one.

  43. pyehac says:

    Idiots and their GPS navigation systems. I drive a handivan part time for my Mom, and even though I’m equipped with a GPS navigation system in the van, I still rely on my map book because the GPS system sometimes can’t locate the address properly.

  44. Travis Ramsey says:

    the person probably got the wrong coords, cuz just by one number off you could be placed in the wrong area. so its not the gps to blame it human error

  45. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    I can see it now, infomercials selling “Demolition prevention services”. For only $10 a month we will monitor demolition permits and call you when one is issued on your property. Save your house, cottage, chalet and cabin from unwanted demolition… Call today.

    F’ing rediculous that anyone would demolish a house based on a gps location… crazy.

  46. sonneillon says:

    Is the house insured? I don’t think this qualifies as an act of god. File an insurance claim get an apartment in the meantime. File a lawsuit for the difference, cleanup the mess and put another house there. It’s not the same but it’s a solution.

  47. humphrmi says:

    At least the demolition company didn’t start reading Vogon poetry to the OP.

  48. Winteridge2 says:

    So now we have to worry about our homes being errantly pinpointed by someone’s GPS, as well as worrying about wrongful credit reports. I wonder how they would have proceeded if the family had been in residence? “Sez right here your home goes down! Now do want to stay inside or watch from that vacant house across the street?” Sheeeeesh!

  49. synergy says:

    I couldn’t believe a company would use only GPS to find a house they’re going to demolish. I would think address AND GPS together would be used. Some addresses are hard to find and the GPS would help with that narrowing things down, but the address would help narrow it down by either seeing the numbers on the houses around it or on the house itself! Good grief! I’d be flaming mad.

  50. Simone Llene Gibbs says:

    Just one word, IDIOTS.

  51. Aussiedogz says:

    Ummm…wouldn’t you need the lot and block number from the local tax map when you get your permit to demolish a house? This doesn’t make any sense.

  52. jc364 says:

    “You didn’t get the demolition notice? It’s been posted in the company’s basement for months now!”

  53. Omniboy says:

    GPS positioning can be as accurate as 3mm. It all depends on the equipment you have. I have a friend who’s an engineer that develops equipment for Surveyors, we were actually talking about this on Saturday night. Accuracy depends on the equipment on the ground, not the stuff in the sky, there are no secret codes or anything else, it all depends how much money you want to throw into your device. Garmin makes a handheld unit for $900 that will pint point you within a foot, surveyor stakes can get as accurate as 3mm or more. All depends on the what you’re using for a received, the antenna quality and how many channels the device is designed to be picking up.