Meth lab houses pose serious health risks, threat can last for years and cleanup can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Can you protect your family?
There’s no practical method to guarantee protection for your family. But all is not lost – you can do something. Take these three steps to offer your loved ones a degree of protection:
1. Awareness – Don’t stick your head in the sand. Take a bit of time to learn of the dangers and how widespread they are.
2. Take Charge – Don’t leave it to the other guy. The more you accept responsibility for your family’s protection, the more control and effective you will be.
3. Decide – How much protection do you consider reasonable? Options available come with variety of price tags. Weigh benefits and costs and decide your comfort zone.
What dangers come with purchase of a meth house? In my opinion, a triple threat exists: health, financial and emotional.
A. Health – Impact varies, but small children suffer most. Fetus vulnerable to birth defects and development problems. Respiratory problems common and liver, kidneys, etc. are also at risk. NY Times reported: The Holts’ three babies were ghostlike and listless, with breathing problems that called for respirators, repeated trips to the emergency room and, for the middle child, Anna, the heaviest dose of steroids a toddler can take.
B. Financial – Time doesn’t fix problem. Five years after moving into their home the Holts’ paid $30,000 to clean up their home. Estimates vary from $5,000 to $70,000. Yes, homes in “good” neighborhoods can be meth houses.
C. Emotional – You may not be allowed to live in a meth house. You’ll have to move out until home is certified safe. Disruption of family life takes an emotional toll, as health issues and major financial setbacks do as well.
“OK you have my attention, but what can I do to protect my family?” A fair question. Steps you can take:
1. Don’t Panic – Take a deep breath – not every house was a meth house. Determine level of risk:
A. Ask your real estate agent what disclosure rules apply. Also, between the seller’s and buyer’s agents, they may have sufficient information on the neighborhood and the sellers to give you peace of mind.
B. Foreclosure. More risk than seller occupied home. Rentals’ risk lies between seller occupied and foreclosure.
C. Talk to neighbors. Meth houses create tension with neighbors.
D. Call police. Community-service office can tell you if house has history of arrests, drug busts, etc.
E. Check with Justice Department – Website list known homes. In 2011, DEA stats claim 10,287 meth lab incidents. Some experts feel real number could be ten times that amount. Keep in mind that 4,260,000 homes were sold last year according to National Association of Realtors.
2. Testing – Tests range from a few dollars to a couple of thousand. Your options:
A. Home Inspector – Choose inspector with training on meth houses and be present when inspection takes place. Inspector won’t be able to declare house safe but may pick up signs that serious testing may be worthwhile.
B Test Kits – They’re available so you can perform tests yourself. Some include sending samples you collect to lab for testing. OSHA labs preferred. Kits can detect a meth house. A negative reading can provide a degree of comfort but not a clean bill of health.
C. Professional – An industrial hygienist can walk through house and provide a reasonable assessment for around $500. Certainty, or as close as you can get, would require a thorough evaluation at a cost of $2,000 or more.
Media shows you what a meth house looks like. I’ve skipped these dramatic examples and dealt with houses that look “normal” on the surface. I’ll sum up by saying:
Realize danger exists. Most homes are not meth houses, but the consequences are so severe that you must decide how much risk you’re willing to take. Keep in mind that you can use inexpensive self-testing to decide whether to bring in a professional.
Kathy Godin, Award-Winning Loan Officer and Branch Manager
CrossCountry Mortgage Inc.
Where people, not computer robots, answer the phone.
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