Meth Contamination Testing as Part of Your Inspection
After attending a 5-hour home inspection of a wonderful house he had under contract in Arvada, our client left with a headache and some nausea. He went home, laid down and slept for 3 hours. Because he worried that it might have 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 the meth screening samples we took from several rooms in the house. Unsurprisingly, 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, and the loss of the sale, the owner spent 6 months and nearly $100,000 getting the house cleaned to meet state standards. The work required installing a new furnace and ducting, and new kitchen cabinets and appliances. He had to replace the drywall, install new carpeting, and refinish the 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. 96% of our clients completed a screening, partly because we cover 1/2 of the $500 cost. 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. Someone simply smoking in a home a few times can put the meth contamination levels over the Colorado state standard. If that happens, owners can be on the hook for $5,000 to $50,000 in cleaning costs. While we're in no position to judge the health risks of owning a home at or near the state limit, we can say with confidence that the financial risks are huge. 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. We recommend that you advise your friends and family to screen any home they're buying for meth contamination.