Thinking of Buying a Home with a Dubious or Unknown Past? Get an Environmental Assessment Before You Sign on the Dotted Line

Buying a home or some other type of property is never a decision that should be made lightly. In addition to all of the personal considerations that you have to make that include things like whether or not the home is right for you or your family and whether or not you can actually afford a monthly mortgage payment, you also have to consider the history of the property itself.

Getting an environmental assessment before you sign on the dotted line is absolutely key to making sure that you aren’t responsible to anything that may be wrong with the property in question. The United States government has decided that the current owner of a home is responsible for any environmental hazards that may be found during an inspection, even if the current owner didn’t actually cause the issue to begin with. Here's a great example.

Not Quite A Dream Home
Environmental assessments can identify a wide variety of different issues that a regular walkthrough might not be able to spot. One couple in Colorado recently found out that the new home that they had just purchased had an undisclosed past doubling as a homegrown crystal meth laboratory. After purchasing their $100,000 home in 2011, tests soon realized that the entire home had been contaminated from a large amount of methamphetamine production that had been going on both in and around the grounds.
The local health department soon ordered the couple to vacate their new dream home. They also had to leave behind most of the personal belongings that they had already moved in, as the vast majority of those items had been contaminated and posed both short and long-term health risks. In addition to losing essentially most of their valuables and the house itself, the couple was also responsible to repair the area because they were listed as the owners of the home.

Knowing the Risks
Every pound of crystal methamphetamine that is produced within a confined area in turn produces between five and six pounds of hazardous wastes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. According to studies, crystal meth labs that are set up in residential and suburban areas are also on the rise in recent years and cause incredibly severe health risks.

When you think about all of the things that crystal methamphetamine byproducts contaminate, the cost to fix those issues will quickly rise. These types of byproducts contaminate everything from the clothing stored within the home to the drywall to the foundation of the home itself. Always keep in mind that just because a home is for sale doesn’t necessarily mean that it is free from a checkered past. More and more meth labs and other types of environmental hazards are slipping through the cracks each year.

Getting an Assessment
Having an environmental assessment done prior to the signing of the sale agreement on a home, however, will alleviate most of these worries. A specialized team will go over every inch of the property to determine if anything hazardous, both manmade and natural, is present. Homeowners can then be completely informed of the past of a home and any financial responsibilities that they would have upon the completed sale. Knowing what you’re getting into can save you both time and money in addition to making sure that the family you plan on moving into or building within the home is as safe as possible.

Aaron Trussell is a university student majoring in environmental engineering. He loves writing about subjects related to his future career, and he blogs for a number of websites in his spare time. See Environmental Data Resources info.