If a builder alters the original site plan after we have already purchased our home, are we able to get our lot premium back?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a builder alters the original site plan after we have already purchased our home, are we able to get our lot premium back?

We recently purchased a new home with a lot premium because it was a

more desirable lot wooded back yard. After moving in it was determined that the adjacent lot and several other lots had serious erosion issues. Due to the issues they are completely changing the grading, adding a wall made of chicken wire and rocks etc. The reason that we built on the lot we did was based off of the site plans that were originally given to us and apart of our contract. Since we share a easement and property line with this hideous wall

do we have any right to ask for our premium back? None of these plans were in the contract.

Asked on October 29, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, we can't give you a hard and fast answer. Changes to goods or services provided under a contract are a breach of the contract--and so grounds for the other, non-breaching party to terminate the contact without penalty and get their money back--IF the change is "material."  A material change is a significant or important one that goes to the core of the agreement--i.e. the core of what you are paying money for. A change in grading and a retaining wall could be a material change if it drastically affects the land area available to you, the use of the property, or possibly the aesthetics if the change is drastic enough--but the change is not judged from your subjective point of view, but rather from the standpoint of the theoretical average "reasonable" person. If the average person would view this wall as substantially reducing the value of the property, then this would likely be a material breach and allow you out of the contract. A good idea would be to consult with an attorney, bringing with you photos, plans, etc. so the lawyer can help you assess whether this change is material or not. If it would not be material, you would be locked into the agreement and have to go forward with it.

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