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The Kids In Bristol Are Sharp As A Pistol
December 2, 2010 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Our Meth House. Jenn Friberg and Rob Quigley bought a home in Bristol, PA. What they didn't know is that it been used as a meth house. Too bad they didn't read How to avoid buying a meth house first.
posted by fixedgear (32 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good link for my husband, the novice real estate agent.
posted by PuppyCat at 2:35 PM on December 2, 2010


a house like that would keep me up all night
posted by pianomover at 2:42 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not a meth house. It's a meth home.
posted by Ratio at 2:43 PM on December 2, 2010 [43 favorites]


There's no real data on this. People are claiming all kinds of bizarre effects from exposures to methamphetamine that are well below those used therapeutically for ADHD and which could in no way produce a high. It is possible that leftover chemicals from the truly nasty stuff used in manufacturing the drug are causing the problems they are reporting—but I'd be astonished if they had anything to do with the presence of methamphetamine itself.

The cleanup crews do not seem to have to prove that what they are doing works or is necessary or is overkill.

Also, did they have symptoms before or after they learned the place was a "meth house"? They seemed to develop the problems afterwards, from what I can tell, which could simply be a nocebo effect from the fear of exposure to evil chemicals that are involved in making evil drugs.

I am not saying that that's necessarily the case— and I think people should check before buying and not buy one of these places if only because the stigma associated with them would make re-sale impossible. But I really wish someone would study this methodically to figure out what the real risks are and what the actual cleanup should be and whether the great expense involved in the cleanup is necessary.
posted by Maias at 2:45 PM on December 2, 2010 [26 favorites]


♫ It's a crank house
It's methy-methy
Just lettin' it all stink out ♫
posted by mattdidthat at 2:48 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even though everything I know about cooking meth comes from watching Breaking Bad, I think Maias has a good point.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2010


Local news coverage.
posted by fixedgear at 2:56 PM on December 2, 2010


What Maias said -- with this metaphor:

Let's say you lived in a house were a serial killer dismembered his bodies. On one hand, if they guy made a huge mess, it could really be nasty. But if they guy was Dexter-level detail-oriented and did it in such a clean way, you'd never notice.

The same thing is true with folks who make meth. Some of them are going to really fuck up a house. But a lot of them aren't. *

That's not to say folks shouldn't know which kind it is. But a blanket label of "METH HOUSE" (in the middle of the street) is going to end up being an inaccurate scare that will fuck things up as often as they help. (See Also: sex offender, National Registry of)


* But wait -- killing people isn't the same as making drugs. There's all kinds of bad vibes that an actual death causes that making drugs doesn't. Yes, true, but you'd never know that given the media.


All that being said, I feel for the people who buy these places that are really f'd up. But I think some sort of government-required reporting label could cause a bunch of problems. But I guess, someday, it might mean somebody who looks beyond said label (read: me and now all my pennywise MetaFilter friends) may be able to do a proper inspection of places with those labels and get us a real estate steal. So I'm gonna shut up now.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:07 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Better call Saul.
posted by dortmunder at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2010 [11 favorites]


Find your local CLANDESTINE METH LABS at http://www.justice.gov/dea/seizures/index.html. (well, okay, *formerly* clandestine meth labs)
posted by rmd1023 at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dumb. I've read about contamination due to drug use. Pretty much any location in which someone has smoked a drug (such as methamphetamine) five or six times would fail a swab test at the level which would make the location be deemed "uninhabitable". Which should tell you something about the reliability of the label. If every home or business in which someone had smoked drugs six times were uninhabitable we'd sure have a big problem.

A home used in the manufacture of methamphetamine could be another matter since there are a lot of toxic chemicals involved. I suspect that this is a nocebo problem, though. Note that none of the news reports mention whether toxic chemicals have been found or what concentrations, only that test swabs have found methamphetamine residue at levels of 0.3micrograms in some locations. And, as I said, that level of residue could be found after a small handful of occasions in which drugs were used in the area.

Anybody here renting an apartment? My guess is a lot of people reading this comment are currently sitting in a room in which a swab would return a positive result for one drug or another, including methamphetamine.
posted by Justinian at 3:45 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


i cant understand how they cant sue the people who sold them the house. am i missing something? isnt this covered under "lemon" laws?
posted by liza at 3:46 PM on December 2, 2010


More likely the VOCs from the new paint and carpets were causing the respritory problems.
posted by humanfont at 3:48 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exactly. The whole story is ridiculous. $61,000 to clean the house? Shit, I'll do it myself for a cool $50k. And that includes me flying myself from Los Angeles, getting a hotel room for a couple days, and heading over to the local Home Depot to by a step ladder, a couple of buckets and rubber gloves, some scrubby things, and a few household cleaners.

Done and done.
posted by Justinian at 3:52 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


i cant understand how they cant sue the people who sold them the house. am i missing something? isnt this covered under "lemon" laws?

Not a Real Estate lawyer, but seller's disclosure in PA is boilerplate stuff: Does the roof leak, ever have this, that, the other? The 'people' who sold the house were the estate - remember, the guy can't show up at the closing 'cause he's in jail. They paid a home inspector (and I'm reluctant to go there, once had a tense AskMe) but anyone can hang out a shingle and become a home inspector. Buyers also bear some responsibility. Shoulda googled before, talked to neighbors before, looks like lots of people knew something. Better believe before I bought my house way back in the last century I did my due diligence.
posted by fixedgear at 4:04 PM on December 2, 2010


Oh, FFS. Those poor poor things.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2010


people should check before buying and not buy one of these places if only because the stigma associated with them would make re-sale impossible

That's certainly a concern--another I learned from a former co-worker who bought a home that used to be either a meth house or a crack house of some kind. Sometimes no one bothers to tell the local junkies that the place has been sold and/or the former occupants have left, and for months afterwards sketchy people come to your door.

Pretty much any location in which someone has smoked a drug (such as methamphetamine) five or six times would fail a swab test at the level which would make the location be deemed "uninhabitable". Which should tell you something about the reliability of the label

It's worth noting that property insurers are all over this in order to justify raising rates or ditching risks they don't want anymore. It's worth checking into for that reason alone, whether or not it's reliable.
posted by Hoopo at 4:09 PM on December 2, 2010


What I've personally discovered is that home inspectors are worth almost absolutely nothing. Otherwise, something like this would be caught by an experienced eye and appropriate modern technology.

In my case, I didn't buy into a ex-meth-lab, but it's clear that the odds are strongly weighted against home buyers, even when they go through the steps that local governments mandate and everyone suggests. When the uselessness of a home inspector is realized, in the majority of cases, there is absolutely nothing the home buyer can do...not sue the seller, not sue the inspector, not sue the realtor...nothing.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 4:18 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I've personally discovered is that home inspectors are worth almost absolutely nothing.

Then you have used the wrong inspectors. Granted some people are experienced enough around houses that they can go into the attic/crawlspace and look around, or spot additions that might have issues, but not everyone is. I feel pretty well versed in this stuff, and I'm pretty handy, but our home inspector spotted a number of issues (a few downright dangerous) that I had missed. He even called the county to check on the permit status of an addition.

A little bit of money for a home inspection is like any other insurance. You'll probably never need it, but when you do, it's priceless.
posted by Big_B at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2010


Let's say you lived in a house were a serial killer dismembered his bodies. On one hand, if they guy made a huge mess, it could really be nasty. But if they guy was Dexter-level detail-oriented and did it in such a clean way, you'd never notice.

The same thing is true with folks who make meth. Some of them are going to really fuck up a house. But a lot of them aren't.


I know two separate people who were shown around this man & woman serial killers' house. Both times the different real estate agents did not disclose its history.

In fairness to the agents, maybe they would have disclosed when it came closer a deal?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:18 PM on December 2, 2010


It's a meth----house
Mighty mighty, just havin' a big cook out
It's a meth----house
The place makes stacks and that's a fact,
ain't holding nothing back.
posted by bwg at 5:21 PM on December 2, 2010


Yeah, yeah, my wife the chef-turned-Realtor still laughs every time Marge Simpson sells the murder house.
posted by fixedgear at 5:22 PM on December 2, 2010


Sometimes no one bothers to tell the local junkies that the place has been sold and/or the former occupants have left, and for months afterwards sketchy people come to your door.

I rented a place for a few years in the early 1990's whose previous occupant had been a crack dealer, and this happened to me. For the most part it was just a nuisance and tapered off after a couple of months. Fortunately crack production doesn't involve the kind of nasty solvents meth does, but one of the replacement dealers who set up shop across the street made the mistake of thinking you could use pointy-bottom plastic test tubes in the same way you'd use pointy-bottom glass ones -- over an open flame. Fortunately it didn't burn down the building but it messed up the apartment bad and they left in a *cough* flaming hurry.

I still have some of the pointy-bottom plastic test tubes fished from their trash after they left. They have screw caps and make nice storage for small semiprecious gemstones.
posted by localroger at 6:12 PM on December 2, 2010


It's really important to ask around to make sure you have a good home inspector, because good ones are amazing and bad or lazy ones are dangerous. "Asking around" does not mean just asking your realtor.

Also, I would want to know if any kind of light manufacturing using solvents--legal or illegal--had been happening in a house I was going to buy, because I have all kinds of respiratory issues and am very sensitive to acetone in particular. (I would also want to know if there had been a nail parlor--legal or illegal--in the house for the same reason.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2010


OK, I get the iodine and I'd believe magnesium, zinc or nickel.

But could someone clue me in on the mercury, lithium and lead? I don't want much. A simple electron pushing mechanism a la CH311 would be fine.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:18 PM on December 2, 2010


But could someone clue me in on the mercury, lithium and lead?

The lithium commonly comes from pilfered batteries that, you can imagine, are unlikely to have been properly disposed of. It's used along with anhydrous ammonia to generate the heat needed to reduce the ephedrine. Another common technique uses iodine and red phosphorous (usually from crushed match heads). IANAMC, YMMV.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:39 AM on December 3, 2010


Among the warning signs of a potential meth house is: Persons exiting the structure to smoke

Huh, apparently I work at a meth office. And all the couples I know where only one person smokes doesn't do it outside to avoid stinking up the place or breathing on the child(ren) but because they are secretly running a meth lab.
posted by DU at 5:45 AM on December 3, 2010


someone had smoked drugs

Not to take away from the rest of your comment--it's just that this turn of phrase sounds like an ABC Afterschool Special:

"You were smoking drugs! Where did you learn to smoke drugs?"

"From you, all right? I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:38 AM on December 3, 2010


$61K? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just paint the walls and ceilings (which they can do themselves), and get new floors (which they might be able to do themselves).
posted by Neekee at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2010


This is why drugs should be legal
posted by MattMangels at 11:16 AM on December 3, 2010


"I was going to smoke the methamphetamine like a cigarette."
posted by Zozo at 2:38 PM on December 3, 2010


Meth? That's nothing. The new drug on the streets is Cake, which turned up in Prague last year, made using a yellow industrial dye. People living in an ex-cakehouse can have get Czech Neck from the residue- their necks swell up until their mouths get covered and they suffocate.
What a fucking disgrace.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:25 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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