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Colorado Methamphetamine Houses

An article appeared on March 3, 2013 in the Denver Post, as well as the Boulder Daily Camera, regarding Colorado methamphetamine houses, (also referred to as just meth), and the potential financial pitfalls to uninformed buyers.  The article features new homeowners of just 3 weeks that had no knowledge.

There are many potential factors for home buyers to consider when assessing risk in a property purchase.  One of these risks is whether or not the house was previously occupied by individuals. That used the property or a portion of it to use and/or manufacture methamphetamine.  Colorado statues require disclosure of any known facts pertaining to such matters.  The problem is, of course, that the real estate agent or the current owner may have no such knowledge of this type of illegal activity. Placing the onus of discovery upon the new buyer.  The cleanup costs for bringing a meth lab house into compliance with standards established by the State of Colorado. Senate Bill SB 06-002, can be in excess of $10,000 or substantially more if the contaminate levels are very high.  This particular Senate Bill makes the cleanup mandatory for the current owner of record.

Preliminary Visual Assessment

Potential buyers can make a preliminary visual assessment of the property to begin their discovery of a potential problem.  When inspecting a house, the buyer should look for items that can be identified as being potentially used in the meth production process. Including old cans, bottles or packages of substances like acetone, muriatic acid, brake cleaner, drain cleaner, iodine, paint thinner, phosphorus or ether lying around which would all be considered red flags.  In addition, one might look for multiple sets of old used rubber gloves, tubing, dust masks, propane tanks, coolers and camp stoves.

Even if none of these items are seen upon entering the house, it would be prudent for potential buyer to investigate. Whether the house is located in area where there are known. Verified meth houses that have been tested and identified nearby.  Reference websites include: DEA forensic list of Colorado meth houses  and department of justice meth lab houses.  Meth Lab test kits are very affordable – about $50.  If the initial test is positive, the potential buyer can engage the services of a professional. A certified industrial hygienist, for more comprehensive testing for between $500-$700.  In any event, the old adage is true more than ever in this particular situation. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Testing for potential meth use and lab activities is now commonplace. It is also one of several tests that a buyer can request to be performed by qualified personnel. Including radon and and lead-based paint.