BUYER BEWARE - Know what you are buying BEFORE you seal the deal.
So you are considering buying or have just bought a property, have you ever considered that it might have been used as a former Marijuana grow operation or meth lab?
The days of drug dealers using derelict older homes in run down communities for this purpose - are gone. Today's modern drug dealer is much more savvy about hiding their operations and for that reason, often use upscale or newer homes in well established communities or brand new housing developments.
Today's drug dealer will think nothing of purchasing a half a million dollar home to house their operation because it may only take the production of as little as a couple of marijuana crops or a few meth brews to easily cover off the entire cost of the home. Many operators will even offer the home to their "growers" as repayment for growing the plants once they feel a home has paid for itself and reaped adequate additional income. Growers may them sell the house to gain the cash for other endeavours. Few grow houses are used for extended periods of time and operators tend to switch locations so as not to draw attention to their operation.
Unsuspecting homeowners are often shocked when a drug raid occurs at the house next door to them. Many of these operations are so well organized and so slick, they go totally undetected. When the drug dealers feel it's time to move their location, the home may be sold to an unsuspecting consumer. Could this be you?
A Police photo of a residential community in Ontario.
Paul Wilson of Home Inspectors in Ottawa says the trend is increasing in Ottawa. He has inspected many homes that you might never suspect from the exterior, lovely older homes in well established upscale neighbourhoods to newly constructed homes ranging from town homes to large grand custom homes. The drug industry sees no bounds when it comes to picking locations and for this reason, they often choose places that the general public would never suspect.
The Ottawa Police Department in collaboration with the Ottawa Real Estate Board have agreed to post knowledge of all known grow operations on the police web site. This should be considered a very positive step towards consumer protectionism when purchasing resale housing. There is however, no guarantee that if a home is not on the police listing, that it was not a former grow operation. The Police drug squad are the first to admit that many grow operations go undetected and are eventually sold to unsuspecting buyers. For this reason, both the Ottawa Police and Ottawa Real Estate Board suggest that by having a professional home inspection on any purchase, you may greatly reduce this risk.
Paul Wilson of HOME INSPECTORS is very familiar with inspecting former Marijuana Grow Operations. Over the past several years, he has seem many and has been able to warn clients purchasing properties like this about the health and safety risks they often pose.
Paul hosted a seminar on Grow Ops, Guns and Meth Labs for Home Inspectors which he coordinated with Bob Culver of the RCMP Drug Detachment, Marc Pinot of the Ottawa Police Drug Squad and Louise Logue, a nurse specializing in youth and drugs with the Ottawa Police Department.
Above: Marc Pinot of The Ottawa Drug Squad and Bob Culver
Left: Hole cut through the floor of a grow op home to allow for ventilation of chemical fumes.
This seminar dealt with recognition of former grow operations and meth labs as well as the health and safety risks associated with their ownership. Most grow operators illegally bypass hydro meters in order to steal the large amounts of power required for heating and lighting a grow operation. This usually results in dangerous electrical connections that are capable of causing serious injury or possible death. Operators often install large ventilation tubes to exhaust chemical fumes through the roof of a home often causing serious structural damage due to large holes cut in floors and ceilings.
Humidity levels are keep very high in grow operations to promote plant growth. Unfortunately high humidity levels also promote mold growth which can be very carcinogenic and have long lasting health effects for humans. Use of various chemicals in both grow operations and in particular methanphetamine labs, can easily contaminate drywall, plaster and even wooden framing. Remediation required to restore a grow operation property back to a safe and healthy state, can be extremely costly and in the case of former meth labs, often deemed a lost cause, as chemical infiltration into all the building material within a home is usually so widespread.
Pictures above show various electrical wiring alteration made to marijuana grow operation houses. All present dangerous risks if tampered with.
Above photos of common materials used in the production of Crystal Meth. A sample of Crystal Meth and a Meth Lab that blew up. Explosions are very common in Meth labs due to the volatility of materials used.
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