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Buyer Beware - How to know if you are buying a former grow-op house

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By : Lauren Spencer    99 or more times read
Finding a great deal on the perfect home may seem like a dream come true; but that dream could quickly turn into a nightmare if you discover the home was once used as a marijuana grow-op. There are many problems that can result from illicit activities in a home, problems that might not be easy to spot.

The major concern is mould. An extensive amount of mould can be found in homes that have been used for cultivating marijuana and many problems can arise from it. Serious health concerns can result from exposure to mould as well as structural damage to the home itself. Mould can be difficult to detect in some homes and even the smallest amount can turn into a major problem. It is recommended to have an environmental expert do an assessment of the home and then have a mould abatement expert remove the problem. This can be a very costly depending on the severity of the problem.

Structural problems can run deep and can include damaged drywall, flooring, plumbing, and ventilation, and in some cases the structural integrity of the entire home may be compromised. Electrical issues can also be a concern: stealing power from neighboring homes, modifications to electrical sources (by-passing meters), and faulty wiring may result in a serious fire hazard and will be in violation of building codes. In many cases a home will need to be completely gutted in order to repair the problems. You need to be sure the 'good deal' you are getting on the home balances out the costs of repairs.

There is also the social stigma of living in a home that was once used for illegal activities. Neighbors might have a bad association with the property and criminal activity may surround the home if people still believe it is a 'drug house'. Also consider the psychological impact; similar to living in a 'haunted house'.

Additional concerns are whether or not the home can be properly insured, and the difficulties associated with re-selling the home. Owning a home that was once used as a grow-op is similar to owning a vehicle that has been in a major accident; even though the repairs have been done there is still the worry that future problems may arise. Depending on local laws, you may be required to disclose all previous activities in the house and any repairs done (be sure to keep records and receipts).

If you are house shopping and are not sure what the signs of a former grow-op are, here some things to look-out for:

  • Excessive security (i.e. bars in the windows, alarm systems, extra locks and bars for doors)

  • Dents on the doors from police raids and attempted break-ins

  • Unexplained holes in floors, walls, and ceilings (used for ventilation)

  • Water stains at the bottom of dry wall

  • Mould on floors, walls, or ceilings (don't forget to check the attic and crawl space)

  • Burn marks on floors (caused by light ballasts)

  • Freshly painted concrete floors covering up round marks left by pots

  • Evidence of tampering with electrical and plumbing systems, furnaces and hot water tanks

  • Minimal landscaping or lawn maintenance

  • Patterns of screw/nail holes on walls and ceiling

  • Blocked out windows

  • Nail or tape marks on walls (used for hanging vapor barriers and reflective film)

  • Unexplained dry wall patches

  • A humid, musty or heavy air inside

  • Fertilizer, pesticides, pots, or materials used for grow-ops usually found in unfinished basements, attics, or crawl spaces

  • It is also important to remember that all grow-ops are not found in bad areas. In many cases these homes are found in upscale neighborhoods.

Unknowingly buying a home that was once used as a grow-op can cause emotional and financial hardships that far outweigh the good deal you may think you are getting. So beware and follow these tips to ensure you do not make the same mistake as many others before you.
Everything you need to know about homes in Santa Cruz is right here at Lauren Spencer, Coldwell Banker Realtor will be glad to answer your questions about Bonny Doon CA real estate.

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