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Is This $64M Mistake the Costliest Blunder in Home-Building History?

Is This $64M Mistake the Costliest Blunder in Home-Building History?

It’s not uncommon to hear stories about people who embarked on home renovations without getting the proper permits and were then forced to destroy all the work they’d just done.

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However, a British property developer is facing an extreme version of this plight, with local authorities ordering him to tear down the Renaissance-style chateau that cost of him $64 million to build.

According to Paris Match, Patrick Diter was given 18 months to raze his massive mansion in the south of France – dubbed Chateau Diter – when a judge denied his appeal after a decade-long legal battle.

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It all started 20 years ago, when Diter been shopping around for a grand villa in Tuscany. When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he decided to build his own in the south of France.

In 2000, he purchased a 17-acre property in the French Riviera. At that time, a far more modest country house was situated on the lot. Diter tore that down and spent the next 10 years constructing his own Tuscan-style chateau, boasting 18 individual suites that can accommodate 36 guests. It also has several luxe features, such as manicured gardens, Venetian chandeliers, an expansive swimming pool, two helicopter landing pads and a medieval-style cloister that can accommodate 600 people. In addition, it has a library with a restored 15th-century fireplace, a state-of-the-art screening room and a wine cellar with a tasting room.

Diter’s problems began when he started renting out his chateau for film shoots and weddings, raking in a more than $50,000 per day. When he ignored his neighbours complaints about noise and traffic from renting out the home, they took him to court, opening a legal can of worms.

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As the court battles progressed, it emerged that the property’s original home was built on a protected site and he didn’t have permission to demolish it. Furthermore, it was discovered that Diter undertook construction on the home without having attained the proper permits and his legal problems exacerbated.

“Patrick Diter was accused of having executed important works on a land without authorization,” Pierre-Jean Gaury, attorney general at the court of appeal in Aix-en-Provence, told CNN. “Mr. Diter transformed a home that was important because it was on a protected site and subject to legal regulations.”

The case progressed through French courts until March 2019, when court of appeal judges in Aix-en-Provence denied Diter’s appeal, determining he had constructed his home without the proper permission.

He was then given 18 months to tear the whole place down. He was also fined $500,000 and will also be fined an additional $550 for each day the home remains standing after that 18-month deadline has passed.

At Diter’s trial in January, the assistant public prosecutor, Pierre-Jean Gaury, described the home as a “pharaonic project, delusional, totally illegal and built in an illegal manner.” Gaury also maintained construction violated local planning regulations in addition to safety and environmental rules, insisting that Diter’s “only concern is money.”

Diter hasn’t revealed whether he plans to follow the order and tear his beloved chateau to the ground within the next year. In the meantime, there’s still an opportunity to rent Chateu Diter before it’s torn down.

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Photos courtesy of Getty Images



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