We are currently recommending that every buyer we work with conduct a screening test for meth contamination on any house or condo that they’re thinking about buying. Especially at high levels, there are proven health risks associated with living in a home with meth contamination. But the risk of buying a meth contaminated home in Colorado is at least as much a financial issue as a health and safety issue.
Under current Colorado law, a home (or car or office building) is defined as a meth lab if meth has been manufactured, stored, or used on the property. And if a property is identified as a “meth lab” under this very broad meaning of the phrase, the following is required:
Anyone living in the property, including the owner, must move out. Only qualified personnel are allowed in the property.
A full Preliminary Assessment by an industrial hygienist must be completed to assess the level of contamination. This assessment will typically cost $1200 to $1600.
If contamination is found in excess of state mandated levels, then:
All personal property on site must be cleaned or disposed of. Since cleaning and testing is very expensive, this generally means that everything in the house has to be trashed.
The property must be cleaned under strict state mandated guidelines. The cost will probably range between $20,000 and $50,000, but could be much more.
Final clearance testing must be completed to show that meth contamination is within mandated levels. This will probably cost another $1200 to $1600.
Imagine the consequence for a buyer who purchases a home, moves in, puts the home on the market a year later, and runs into a buyer who conducts a meth screening test and finds meth. This new home owner will likely lose everything they own and incur cleanup costs in the $20,000 to $50,000 range simply to get the house sold. And if they try to recover their losses from the prior owner, they will have to prove that the house was contaminated before they moved in. In many cases, the result will be bankruptcy for the home owner.
Screening tests for meth aren’t cheap, typically running $500 to $600. We’ve found a couple of industrial hygienists who’ll do them for $375. We’re currently splitting this cost with clients to encourage testing of every property we’re involved with.