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Acquiring Property Through Accession

4. How do individuals acquire an “ownership” interest in property?

Accession – Accession refers to additions to existing property to modify it in a way that results in new property. Accession is very similar to creation of something new. That is, if you add something to raw materials, you own the product that you make from the raw material.

•    Example: I build a tree house with lumber that is not mine. I used property that was not mine, so I am liable for the value of the lumber. But, I own the product of my labor (the tree house). Of course, in my situation, the person may be able to file a legal claim against you if you do not pay for the lumber.

•    Discussion: Do you believe that something created from raw materials should be considered new property? In the business context, should ownership rights in newly created property vest in the owner of the raw materials?

•    Practice Question: Tom needs a place to live. He owns land, but he does not have the money to build a house. One day, he is riding by a construction site. Out front is a large stack of lumber that belongs to Angie, the general contractor. Tom comes back that evening and steals all of the lumber to build himself a house. Tom is a skilled carpenter and using the lumber it only takes him a week to frame in his house. If Angie learns that Tom stole his lumber, does she effectively own Tom’s house? Why or why not?

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