After attending a 5-hour house inspection in a wonderful house he had under contract in Arvada this summer, our client walked out with a headache and some nausea. He went home, laid down, and slept for 3 hours. Because he worried that maybe it had something to do with the house, he called the inspector the next morning. The inspector reported the same set of symptoms. Later that afternoon, we got the lab results from our meth screening samples taken from several rooms in the house. It was no surprise that the meth contamination levels in the house exceeded 100 to 400 times what the Colorado Department of Health considers safe. Mystery solved.
Meth Cleanup can be Extensive and Expensive
As a result of this testing, the owner spent 6 months and nearly $100,000 getting the house cleaned to meet state standards. This work included installing a new furnace and ducting, new kitchen cabinets and appliances, replacing the drywall, installing new carpeting, and refinished wood flooring.
Yes, You Should Test for Meth
Since 2013, we've encouraged all clients to screen for meth contamination when they get a house under contract. Partly because we cover 1/2 of the $500 cost, 96% of our clients ordered a screening to be completed. Of the 201 properties we have tested, 28 homes, or 14.6% of the total, had some meth contamination. In roughly 5% of the homes, we found meth at or above what is considered safe by state standards. In 2%, meth levels were more than 10 times the Colorado standard.
The Meth Contamination Risks are Real
Very few real estate agents understand how common meth contamination in homes really is. Because simply having someone smoke in a home a few times can put the meth contamination levels over the Colorado state standard, owners can be at risk of having to spend $5,000 to $50,000 in cleaning costs. We're in no position to judge the health risks of owning a home at levels at or near the state level, but the financial risks are huge. And for some houses, like the one our clients didn't buy in Arvada, the health risks are obvious and substantial. Neurological, lung, skin and other damage is a real risk. Advise your friends and family to screen any home they're buying for meth contamination.