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How do I know if I’m buying a meth house? 🏠 FIRST HOME QUESTIONS 🤷‍♀

November 09, 2020

Hi Samara 😊

Ah, parents. No matter how old you get, they’ll never stop giving you advice. Mine were very concerned that my new house didn’t have a covered carport. I guess they were worried my car was scared of the dark???

Still, now that they’ve put the worry into your head, let’s address it. How do you know if your new house was used to manufacture methamphetamine? There are a few things that might raise a red flag. Look for them at your pre-settlement inspection. While none of them are definite indicators of drug activity, they should prompt you to ask a few more questions.

Ray Moon, Senior Sales Associate
Ray Moon, Senior Sales Associate
Signs that your house might have been used to produce methamphetamine
  1. Strong chemical odours, like rotten eggs, vinegar or ammonia smells. These are strong indicators for drug manufacture, so if you detect them you should ask a few more questions about the property. And let’s face it — even if it’s not meth, none of these smells indicate good things.
  2. Rundown or unsanitary conditions. You’re looking for signs that the home has gone past ‘doer-upper' and into ‘derelict'. Deep staining, mould and built-up dirt are all signs of dysfunction, whether that’s drug addiction, hoarding or other behaviours.
  3. Excessive security. Does it look like the previous owner had something to hide? If a high fence, 30 security cameras and a guard dog or two seems like overkill for your reasonably-priced suburban house, well, it probably is.
How worried should you be?

My personal opinion? Not very. There are some scary figures out there that will tell you that half of all houses test positive to meth, with some over 1600 times the acceptable level. Chances are your family has read that article – it did go viral awhile back.

If that sounds too terrifying to be true, well... Those are figures shared by a company who make their living by testing houses for meth. Other companies have re-tested the same houses and found, let’s say, some discrepancy in the results. Like 12 micrograms of meth compared to the meth testing company’s 1600, for example. That kind of discrepancy.

So, is it dangerous to your health to live in a house that was once used to manufacture meth? The medical science on this is unclear, but a new report might put your mind at ease.

The Australian standard says that a property is safe if it returns a result of less than 0.5µg/100cm2 of meth.

In New Zealand, where the Department of Housing introduced meth screening as standard in public housing, they’ve been revisiting the issue. A landmark report by Professor Sir Peter Gluckman found that there is no evidence in the medical literature that anybody is harmed by passive exposure to methamphetamine - at any level. He recommended a new safety threshold of 15µg/100cm2: 30 times the Australian recommendation.

Personally, I’ve not seen any houses that have come up positive for methamphetamine residue. It’s not a common problem here in Canberra.

If you move in and decide that you do want the peace of mind, there are several remediation companies out there who’ll come and do a deep clean for you. But chances are, your new home is completely safe.

  • Signs that your home might have been used to manufacture drugs include strong chemical odours, a derelict interior and high levels of security.
  • Beware scare mongers: new research suggests that there is little to no danger from passive exposure to methamphetamine.
  • If you’re still worried, there are remediation services that can help
See the rest of her questions

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