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. Worried that maybe that 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 from the house. The meth levels in the house were from 100 to 400 times what the Colorado Department of Health considers safe. Mystery solved. The seller spent 6 months and nearly $100,000 getting the house cleaned to meet state standards, work that included installing a new furnace and ducting, new kitchen cabinets and appliances, replacing the drywall in the kitchen, installing new carpeting, and refinished wood flooring.
Since 2013, we’ve been encouraging 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 have had a screening completed for the 201 homes we’ve had under contract from 2013 through 2018. Of those 201 properties, 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 Colorado standards. In 2%, meth levels were more than 10 times the Colorado standard.
Very few real estate agents in Colorado understand how common meth contamination in homes really is. Just having someone smoke meth in a home a half dozen times is quite likely to put the contamination levels over the Colorado state standard, putting the owner at risk of $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.