Home inspectors can spot grow-ops in a flash

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

Susan Lazaruk


(How to spot a grow-op house)

CREDIT: The Province

House inspectors can tell in a flash if they are dealing with a home that used to be a drug factory.

“I can tell in less than 60 seconds,” said Ed Witzke, who has been inspecting homes for 30 years. “It’s very, very easy.”

Witzke said rarely a week goes by when he doesn’t inspect at least one former grow-op.

“It’s rampant out there,” he said.

The B.C. Real Estate Association this week will decide whether to adopt a proposal by B.C.’s two largest groups of realtors — the boards of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley — to include on the standard seller’s disclosure statement a reference to whether the house has been used to grow marijuana or produce crystal meth.

“It’s considered a latent defect,” said Amanda Malone of the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board.

House inspector Clayton Abney said he’s inspected about 80 grow-ops in the past three years.

“We see all sorts of things, like when the apparatus is still in the house,” he said.

“Once, they literally left garbage bags full of pot in the attic.”

He and Witzke said they report what they find to their clients and it’s up to them whether they want to use the information to negotiate the price or to bail out.

Lawyer David Grieg said the new drug disclosure, if approved, won’t be much help to homebuyers.

“I don’t think the new disclosure will offer any fresh protection in law,” he said.

He said buyers can best protect themselves by having the house checked out before signing the deal.

Witzke’s advice to people suspicious of the history of a house is: “Talk to the neighbours.”

© The Vancouver Province 2004

Comments are closed.