Pittsburgh man latest to have home accidentally demolished

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The American dream of home ownership didn't exactly exit the last decade on a high note, with the mortgage sector on still-shaky ground, the housing market stagnating and foreclosures at historic highs. So it was gratuitously devastating for Andre Hall of Pittsburgh -- who was in the process of reclaiming a foreclosed property, no less -- to return from the holidays to discover that the city had accidentally demolished his property.

"My dream is done now," Hall told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after the foreclosed home he bought in November was accidentally flattened. "Someone needs to man up and take responsibility for this."

Hall told the paper that upon his return he was shocked to find heavy machinery parked on the site of his former home when he returned on Monday to continue rehabbing it.

"I don't come for a week over the holiday, and as soon as I come back, I see a backhoe on top of the house," he said. "Why did they demolish the house? They could see I had put in new windows and had slabs of drywall."

John Jennings, who heads up Pittsburgh's Bureau of Building Inspection, claims that his department called off the demolition of the house on November 3 pending its sale. With the transfer of the property, the city also gave Hall six months to make repairs to the home. Nevertheless "a couple of things went awry," Jennings explained, with the contractor the city hired to do the job. The workers on the crew tore down Hall's house "in error" when they were only supposed to demolish the house next door to his -- a structure that the city had also condemned last year.

Experiences like Hall's are distressingly common. There's the homeowner in Carrollton, Georgia, who saw the house built by his father flattened by careless city contractors who'd been following a faulty GPS locator. There was the woman in Denton, Texas, who was working in her garden as a demolition crew, mistaking her lot for a condemned property across the street, gouged an enormous hole into her front yard, which promptly claimed her porch, and rendered the remainder of the house structurally unstable. And there's the Jackson, Miss., woman whose home was flattened after pranksters took a sign erected to condemn an adjacent vacant lot and placed it in front of her home.

Hall, for his part, reports that after he'd tirelessly worked to fix the house up, he was preparing to move into the 1631-square-foot house within three weeks -- together with his girlfriend and her five children. For now, they will continue to live in Hall's one-bedroom apartment in the Pittsburgh suburb of East Liberty. The city solicitor's office is reportedly investigating what happened.

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