How to tell if a house was used as a grow op or meth lab

Is that house deal too good to be true? It probably is! While there can be many reasons why a house price may be on the low side, make sure you know the full story before you snap it up.

Houses that were used as grow-ops or meth labs are everywhere- in all communities across Canada and can be hard to spot, especially when they’re priced to sell fast. Homes that are former grow ops/meth labs can have very serious issues such as structural damage and toxic mould as well as the very real possibility that criminals will come by who think it is still a place to get drugs . So how can you tell if this house has a shady history?

  1. The RCMP now maintain a website where you can actually check the address of a home to see if they have ever shut down a drug facility there. And if you’re thinking, “No, this is a great neighbourhood, that could never have happened here.” Think again!Grow ops and meth labs are found in every kind of neighbourhood and are deliberately put in houses that won’t arouse suspicion from the outside. Unfortunately, this RCMP site will only list homes that they were involved with so for other police forces, you will have to contact them directly and ask about the specific property (or ask your realtor to check on your behalf). Find the RCMP site, including their photo gallery of what to look for here
  2. The government of Alberta has a terrific interactive site that shows you the many signs throughout the property to be on the lookout for including: modified vents, heavy window coverings that are never opened, exterior standing on the siding that indicates “sweating” or condensation, warped beams etc... Be sure to look at both the exterior and interior signs. Click on the photo below to use their site.
  3. The CBC also ran a special report on the top 12 signs a house was used as a grow up, find the full article here.  highlights include modified electrical panels, holes in the walls and exterior bricks (that were used to run wiring and vents) etc...If you suspect a house you're thinking of buying may have been used as a grow op or lab, GET AN AIR QUALITY TEST ASAP before anything else.Source:
  4. If the selling agent knows this house has a history, they are legally obligated to disclose that and there may have been some remediation done to the home to repair it after being used as a grow op or lab. Reviews are mixed in terms of whether or not a home can be safely remediated and fit for a family to live in. While many realtors advise against it, some haz mat (hazardous materials) companies feel that a remediated home is actually better and safer than other homes on the market. Only you can decide if that something you would feel comfortable about but do the research first, start learning about home remediation here and be sure to check if your insurance and mortgage companies will move forward with the deal if it is a remediated grow op or lab. If you have any further questions about this, please give me a call or email and I'm happy to help.

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Brenda MacDonald-Rowe

Brenda MacDonald-Rowe

CENTURY 21 Explorer Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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