Having A Bad Day? At Least You Didn't Knock Down The Wrong House

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You know when you make a pretty bad mistake and you keep thinking about it and then you think that everyone’s going to hate you for it? No you don’t! Not compared to Reddit’s throw-away552, anyway…

My father owns a pretty large heavy construction company and every so often we are tasked with demolishing houses. [He] won a public bid to demolish a few homes in a housing complex.

My dad goes to Florida in the winter and I become the superintendent of our sites for a few months.

Already sounding like a recipe for disaster. Let’s see how it turned out…

The following day I load our machine on the lowboy, a PC-220 Komatsu excavator with a grapple, and drive over to the neighbourhood. Everything looks good and I tell my guys to meet me at the houses.

Once I arrive in the neighborhood I realise that the only thing I have to go by is the description of the homes on the contract because there are no house numbers and a community mailbox. I pull up to a “blue three story dwelling circumvented by a wooden porch” just like it says on my contract.

Now, at helloU, we don’t like to consider ourselves demolition experts but the general consensus around here is that if we were tasked to knock down a house, we’d really want to make sure we have the right one… like before any brick bashing happens.

It’s important to know that for all other demos we usually go into the homes and take out all the copper for recycling. This contract stated that the housing authority has already recycled everything so there was no reason to enter the home.

I start by taking off the roof, load by load, everything is going smoothly. I now start with the second floor. I see a dresser in my grapple. I think to myself “oh well the previous tenants must have left some furniture”. Next the grapple has a bed in it. Then a pile of clothes. Then a tv.

The TV?! Sure, the house is bad but not the TV!

At this point something seems fishy so I get off the machine and walk up to the side window of the half demolished house. I look inside and my heart sinks. There are pictures on walls, a fridge, dining room table and a typical family living room. This is the wrong house. Someone obviously lives here.

I run to my truck and grab my phone, but before I can even call my dad the housing authority representative pulls up and judging by the look on his face this was absolutely positively the wrong house.

Start a new life in the Bahamas. Surely that’s the only answer to when you get yourself into this sort of mess?

[The] home was owned by the housing authority and the tenants were on vacation. We paid movers to take the remaining undamaged items from this half destroyed house to another. The worst part was no one had a mobile contact for the tenants. They arrived home a week later to the plot of land where their home once stood. In the end they got a sizable payout from the housing authority for not supervising the demo, which was stated in our contract. Dad didn’t talk to me for months.

So, we hope that lends a little perspective for when you think you’ve made a massive mistake. Have you done worse and lived to tell the tale?

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