25 November 2014
Ken Ramsay

Drug Manufacturers: They're Closer Than you Think

You’re stuck in morning traffic, and you spill your hot coffee all over important documents as you reach over to change the music. You’re late for work, and you miss a meeting. Before your day has even started, you’re already mumbling the words,

“I can’t wait to go home.”

Home is sanctuary. It is where a person can curl up on the couch to watch their favourite movie with no disturbances aside from the ones they want, and where they should feel safe and comfortable. While people like to give a house history with memories of Christmas dinners, or a baby’s first steps, some might wonder what history the property had in the past.

When it comes to Toronto real estate, there are many aspects of a property’s past that can affect its value. One scenario that people hope not to come across might be that the homes for sale were previously used to house a grow-op or drug lab.  Just recently, there was a dangerous incident at a Toronto condo unit located at 85 East Liberty St in Liberty Village, where the unit was being used as a meth lab and ended with an explosion that sent doors flying into hallways. This event sent people out from the their homes onto the streets as they awaited updates, with minds reeling. Who knew?

Since that incident on November 17, I have received many questions about the safety of homes around units that were used for drug production. It’s a tough pill to swallow to realize that while you were watching Breaking Bad and eating nachos, methamphetamine production was virtually happening on the other side of your wall. The most important thing is to know your facts, but also be aware of the very thorough steps taken by the city to ensure the safety of those living in/near properties that were once used as a grow-op or drug lab.

 According to the RCMP, there are over 4000 confirmed grow-ops across Canada- but keep in mind these are only the ones that have been found. The people in charge of these illegal ventures try very hard to keep their business under wraps, so it is clear that that the numbers must be far higher than 4000.

Aside from the negative stigma that would loom over a house that had such a history, there is the concern of physical damages. In order to encourage plant growth, high levels of humidity are required. This in turn creates the perfect environment for mould, and high enough levels of moisture can result in structural damage. Not to mention, many dangerous chemicals are used, and are often simply dumped down the drain, leading to environmental hazards and in some cases damages plumbing. While grow-op scenarios mostly use pesticides, the production of methamphetamines requires the use of hydrochloric acid, iodine, benzene, acetone, and an assortment of other chemicals.

Another main issue in any kind of drug lab, is illegal wiring. This is done to accommodate the high levels of electricity required to keep operations running. It can be an enormous (and expensive) headache to restore the property back to Electrical Code standards, if even possible. These issues combined make it very hard to obtain financing or insurance.

Photo Sources:  Seattle Police Department, Ontario Remediation Services, Becuo

With all of that in mind, you can rest assured that by hiring a real estate agent, your risk of coming across any surprises are very low. Even if it has been remediated, the seller still has to disclose if the property has been used to manufactur drugs. This might not always be the case, that’s why I always search online directories, and do a Google search to see if there’s anything on the web about the history of the home. I also recommend home inspectors that are trained to spot the signs of drug manufacturing. 

If you are curious about the location of known drug labs/grow-ops in Toronto, CLICK HERE. You can also search specific addresses. 

Please contact me if you have any further questions!