An Auckland couple were amazed to be told by their lawnmowing man that a house had appeared on their vacant beach section without their knowledge.
The home was meant for another property, also on Seascape Lane at Coopers Beach in the Far North, but contractors dropped it off to the wrong address.
A missing pohutukawa, piles of wood and muddy tracks leading off the property were the only clues as to how the house had arrived.
Amanda and Andrew Wisniewski battled to get it off their land from the time they were alerted to it about seven weeks ago, and finally had success yesterday.
Building movers accepted some responsibility for the mistake, but said plans were misleading, and that a council inspector signed off the work once the house was on the section.
The Wisniewskis, who have owned the section for 10 years, said they first knew of their unwanted Christmas present when an invoice arrived from the man who mows their lawn. "He emailed the latest invoice and said, 'I see there's a house gone on to your section' ... We called our neighbour, who confirmed it," Mrs Wisniewski said.
"The following weekend we drove up to have a look for ourselves, and, sure enough, there was a full-on house there."
Through the Far North District Council, they found out the house should have been put on an empty plot two sections away and down a driveway.
The owners, an Auckland family who had only recently bought the property, were apologetic, but placed the blame on the house movers.
A removal notice lodged by the council with O'Neills Building Removals expired on November 29, and a second notice was served.
The house was removed yesterday after company owner Jeremy O'Neill spoke with the Herald.
It wasn't done sooner because of a queue of other jobs, Mr O'Neill said.
He said the mistake came about because plans were vague and misleading. The correct section was down a long right-of-way driveway, but this was not indicated, and the position of sewer lines and other details were also incorrectly mapped.
The owners of the house were not on-site, and a building inspector signed off the work-sheet before concrete for the foundation timber was poured. "They [council] check for boundary pegs, siting, the depth of your holes and all that carry-on, and they gave us a full pass ... They didn't even pull us up on it," Mr O'Neill said.
Aucklander Peti Fane, who owns the old villa with his partner, Fiona Baker, said yesterday: "The good news is it has been picked up. My partner and sister-in-law went up north this morning and witnessed the house moving up the driveway."
The Wisniewskis had handled their surprise delivery extremely well, Mr Fane said.
"But they didn't want to buy it. They didn't see the potential. Once I finish the place they'll probably think they should have bought it."
The district council says it is investigating.
- Additional reporting: Steve Deane