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March 09, 2022

Does buying a former grow-op make any sense?

“My parents are purchasing a house and they got it for a great deal. The only thing is, it used to be an ex-grow op house,” writes a concerned poster called KAOS.  

Grow Should he be worried? Oh, I think so.

Even if its provenance has been disclosed, quickie repairs made to cover up damage that occurred in the marijuana-growing process could still easily leave the home unsafe. And, in many cases, you may not even know what happened.

“Maybe the growers moved on before they were busted, so there’s no police record of the address. Maybe they were grow-ops before the law required the seller to disclose,” advises Mike Holmes, Canada’s second most trusted man — trailing only David Suzuki in a 2010 survey by Reader’s Digest — and a guru on fixing places that others have ruined.

“The visible evidence has probably been covered over, but who knows what might be behind those walls or in the attic?” he adds.

What happens is that the plants are heated by grow lights and watered continuously to make them flourish. This produces abnormally high levels of humidity which settles in the cooler spots in the home — in the gap behind the drywall just inside of the outer walls of the home — and that leads to piles of mould. 

Not sure where you stand? Here are some tell–tale signs to look for before making that home purchase:

  • Mould in corners where the walls and ceilings meet
  • Unusual number of roof vents or signs of roof vents
  • Fresh paint on window frames to cover damage caused by the high levels of humidity
  • Painted concrete floors in the basement with circular marks where pots once stood
  • Evidence of tampering with the electric meter (damaged or broken seals) or the ground around it
  • Fire place alterations

Would he buy a former grow-op? Yes, says Holmes. But he’s a professional builder, with knowledge, experience and several shows to produce. But that’s not the same for the average homeowner.

You have to be aware that repairs are costly, be prepared for worst case scenarios and make sure that the remediation budget is generous.

Would you buy an abandoned grow op if the price was right? Already done so? How did that work out?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...