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Woman ordered to stop building ‘secret’ tunnel under her house by Town of Herndon

TikTok user Kala has been documenting the construction of a “secret tunnel” under her Herndon home since October 2022 (via @engineer.everything/TikTok)

The Town of Herndon has shut down a resident’s months-long attempt to construct an elaborate tunnel system under her house.

Nicknamed “tunnel girl” by online followers, Kala shared in a Dec. 28 video that local officials have issued a stop-work order requiring her to suspend the “secret tunnel” project that she has been documenting on TikTok and, occasionally, YouTube since October 2022.

Though Kala’s videos showcase an extensive operation involving makeshift mine carts and a slide that dumps rubble into an outdoor dumpster, Herndon wasn’t alerted to the construction work — and its potential building code violations — until early December, according to the town.

“The Town of Herndon received notice that activity in potential violation of the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) was occurring at a residential property within the town’s corporate limits,” the town said in a statement. “As is standard protocol following such notifications, representatives from the building official’s and zoning administrator’s offices conducted a site inspection on Thursday, December 7, 2023. The town is working with the property owner to correct any violations and ensure that the property is safe and in compliance with the code.”

The town was notified by a resident who submitted a complaint on Dec. 5, reporting that their neighbor has been engaged in non-stop construction for about three years.

According to the service request, the resident “always saw huge piles of dirt leaving her property to the point that she pays for a dump truck to get the dirt out,” but they didn’t realize what was going on until Kala’s TikTok account @engineer.everything appeared on their friend’s page and they recognized her as their neighbor.

“She [is] building a tunnel. Is this ok for her to do? She has a YouTube channel showing how she’s been doing the tunnel since the beginning of her move,” the complaint said. “Can someone please look at her tik tock and see if she has the permits and permission from the town of Herndon.”

When contacted by FFXnow, Kala said she’s working with local officials to obtain permits, declining to publicly comment until that process is complete.

Kala announced plans on Oct. 23, 2022 to build a storm shelter off of her basement, anticipating that the project will be complicated, expensive and require the construction of a crane system to haul rubble 14 feet up from a basement window to ground level.

Subsequent updates have touched on everything from Home Depot visits to a fire that broke out in the tunnel last July. At one point, Kala constructed a sub-pump to address flooding from groundwater.

In the process, she has attracted nearly 532,000 followers — and plenty of online speculation about her qualifications and the legality and safety of her “suburban mining operation,” as she sometimes calls the project.

According to an NBC News profile, Kala began digging the 30-foot-long, 20-foot-deep tunnel because she enjoys home improvement challenges. She previously built a four-story addition to the back of her house.

While passionate about civil and mechanical engineering, she has no formal training in those fields, studying business in school and working mostly in information technology, NBC News reported.

Image via @engineer.everything/TikTok

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