July 7, 2012

Was this home a Meth Lab?

Some of the homes we feature on Burbed are in craptacular shape.  They’re held together only by the termites hugging, or they’ve been exposed to weather, or pets ran amok without benefit of a dedicated rest area.

And we’ve even made jokes about homes that might have been meth labs.  But there’s a site out there that shows you what to look for in case a home really was used as a drug factory.  Let’s take a look at a web site devoted to the problem of buying a property and discovering it is uninhabitable due to former methamphetamine production.  Welcome to Meth Lab Homes.



The site was started by someone whose son unknowingly bought a Tennessee house that was a former meth lab.  (No Tennessee jokes, please.  Meth labs are found all over the United States, including the Bay Area.  Including the REAL Bay Area.)

So here, as a public service to all you househunters, are some ways to tell if the house you want to buy might have had a former life as a meth lab.  Thanks very much to Meth Lab Homes for the photos and initial guidance on identifying signs that a home was used to produce meth.

Since this is Burbed, we couldn’t help but add more advice.

Chemical Stains

120706-methlabs-stainsIt’s hard to make an omelet without breaking some eggs, and it’s hard to make meth without spilling some hydrochloric acid.  If you see floors or walls with stains like this, you may have found yourself in a meth lab.  Of course, if you see brand news floors or carpets, you may also be looking at a meth lab.  Burbed advises that you rip up all the carpets and floors to check.  You can never be too sure!

Burnt Grass or Plants

One way to avoid telltale meth cooking odors is to cook outdoors.  Even if the house had meth cooked inside, the chemicals may be dumped in the yard.  Any sign of burning probably means you’re looking at a meth lab, because no Californian would otherwise start a fire outdoors in a drought climate.


Kitty Litter

120706-methlab-kitty-litterMeth lab cooks use household kitty litter to absorb the chemicals they work with.  So if you see any sign of kitty litter in, around, or near a house, there’s a good chance it was a former meth lab.

They probably kept actual cats to mislead you, so don’t believe any excuses about the former owners being pet lovers.  Also pet urine does a fantastic job hiding any meth chemical odors, so be on the lookout and give your potential house a good sniff test.

Good Housekeeping

According to the website, meth users and makers don’t care about anything except meth.  Keeping the house clean and neat will not be a priority.  So if you see something like this when you inspect a home, the former owners or tenants were probably meth-heads.

120706-methlab-toiletDon’t believe nonsense about how engineers and software developers don’t care about hygiene.  Engineers and software developers don’t bother coming home to make a mess in the first place.

This is a great toilet shot.  We should send this one in to this website, as they seem to enjoy these kinds of pictures.

Bizarre Plumbing, Venting, and Electrical

120706-methlab-plumbingIf you’re considering a house and any of the pipes, vents, or electrical connections make you wonder if the contractor was on meth when putting them together, it’s a good bet you’re looking at a meth house.  Bizarre plumbing and venting could point to the need to keep telltale odors away from nosy neighbors.

If you find electrical outlets in places where nobody would want to plug in a television or a toaster, you may be looking at a meth lab.  Why else would anyone need an outlet in a garage?

Buy yourself a brand new condo instead.  Trust us, it will produce much fewer headaches.

Covered and/or Painted Windows

120706-methlab-windowMeth lab operators don’t want attention, and often cover or paint all windows near operations.  If you tour a house and see covered or painted-over windows, RUN, do not walk away.

You do realize that by “covered windows” we most certainly do mean draperies, curtains, blinds, and shades.  Remember, only people who live in glass houses have nothing to hide.  A covered window means a damaged homelife!

Glass and Plastic Containers

120706-methlab-containersMeth is produced in containers, usually in glass or plastic.  If you find any glassware or plastic bottles in a house you are considering, there’s an excellent chance you’re looking at a former meth lab.

Be sure to check all cabinets for any sign of glasses or plastic bottles.  Don’t be fooled by bottles with liquids in them.  Meth lab operators will fill their empties to lull buyers into a false sense of home security.

Danger, Will Robinson!  Danger!

Just about every house you consider could have been a meth lab at one point.  To be absolutely 100% sure you are not moving into a dangerous, chemically-infested hellhole, we suggest that if you must purchase a used home, that you burn the entire structure and grounds to fully consume all latent chemical byproducts.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

14 Responses to “Was this home a Meth Lab?”

  1. Tracy Tea House Says:

    This is a helpful article. Meth is a serious house contaminant. Where I lived in Richmond, finding this kind of evidence of meth was not uncommon. Before I bought my wreck/crapshack/fixer, here in the pristine drug free valley, I checked with the police about criminal activities in the house and also with the fire dept. I know Burbed is trying to make fun, and of course toxic danger in a house is very funny, but in this case knowing the signs is a good idea.

  2. Real Estater Says:

    High Speed Rail Project got approved. What does it mean for real estate?

    1. Time to buy Fresno and Merced
    2. Bay Area homes near the train will decrease in value
    3. Palo Alto homes not near the train tracks will increase in value as the supply of unaffected homes decreases

  3. SEA Says:

    #2- Will that high speed rail be used to deliver Meth?

  4. madhaus Says:

    Homes in the HSR corridor will make terrific meth labs!

  5. madhaus Says:

    Oh yeah, this article mentions the process of cooking meth but never gives the actual recipe. Here it is, courtesy of Ikea.

  6. Real Estater Says:

    Totally don’t get the fascination with this topic. This site has been going downhill since Sebastopol…

  7. Mole Man Says:

    Business. Opportunity.

  8. Crissa Says:

    2. Bay Area homes near the train will decrease in value

    As the say on the internet, Citation, please.

  9. Petsmart groomer Says:

    Regarding #2 (a well-deserved number), I like how the houses that will lose value are described as “Bay Area homes” but the ones that will gain value are just “Palo Alto homes” 🙂

  10. madhaus Says:

    Petsmart #8, don’t you understand? Homes next to train tracks cannot POSSIBLY be in the Real Bay Area. The more trains on the tracks, the less desirable the homes are. So a house in Palo Alto next to HSR moves to East Palo Alto. In value.

  11. methlabhomes.com Says:

    All kidding aside….Chronic exposure to methlab chemicals can cause serious illness, particularly to infants, young children, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems.

    If you happen to buy a home contaminated with methlab chemicals, you are also responsible for the cost of decontaminating it. That cost can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000. In some cases, it’s cheaper to demolish the property. There are disclosure laws in many states, but you can’t rely on them. Many disclosure forms don’t include “meth labs” on them and disclosure rules are based on “any knowledge of”. If someone wants to get rid of a contaminated former meth lab home, to save themselves the cost of decontaminating it, how motivated do you think they are to tell you the truth about the home?

    Once a buyer has your cash-in-hand, the decontamination costs and the health problems become your problem, as do the medical bills and the legal fees you’ll have to pay for a crime that’s been committed against you.

    When it comes to former meth lab homes, it’s buyers and sellers beware.

  12. Who wants to buy a meth lab? [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] This site has made a number of jokes about homes that could have been meth labs but probably weren’t.  But what if you could buy a real one?  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Cam for following up on our recent guide to NOT buying a …

  13. Nancy Says:

    Outlets in a garage are not weird. Many people have work benches & tools or just want to use a shop vac.

    Not sure why this went to spam but it’s rescued now. –ed.

  14. HOUSE for under $300K with colorful history, we bet [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] Wait a minute, wait a minute… Remember when we last saw floors like this?  Sure you do. […]

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