Guidelines for Cleanup of Residential Property Used to Produce Drugs

Discovering that your home or office was used to manufacture methamphetamine can be shocking.  Even more shocking, is when you discover the amount damage that methamphetamine does to your home.  The toxicity of the cook process damages air ducts, drywall, furniture, flooring, and all contents.  Many insurance companies cover the remediation cost of meth lab cleanup, however many do not.  Depending on the State where you are located there may be guidelines and requirements for drug lab cleanup.  However, if you are in a State where there are no regulations or guidelines you must do your own investigation and hire a company who cleans up meth labs in various States.

To make things easier for the consumer Spaulding Decon has a webpage called Drug Lab Cleanup Laws by State.  This page is to help you navigate the cumbersome requirements of decontaminating a meth lab.  Click on the State where you are located and find out the requirements and what your next steps are.  If there is nothing clickable on your State then there are no regulations or requirements for meth lab cleanup.

For example, if your home is in Tennessee, there are regulations and plenty of guidelines to help you out.  The initial process typically begins with a drug lab bust by law enforcement.  When that occurs local law enforcement will identify the meth lab as a Tier 1, 2, 3, or 4.  The tier levels are important to meth lab cleanup contractors because it indicates what level of cleanup is required to get the home off the quarantine list.  Tier one for example, is typically identified as a “smoker house”.  

This means that no meth lab manufacturing chemicals were identified or discovered however there was evidence that people were using meth inside the home.  Using meth inside a home can still cause contamination to the home.  Tier 4 is considered a “super Lab” and the State requires that the home be demolished.  Tier 4’s are rare, however they do exist.  Once law enforcement identifies the tier they quarantine the property and place an orange sticker on the front door.  The quarantine attaches to the deed and will not allow the homeowner to sell the home.  The sticker on the front door identifies the home as a meth lab and will not allow anyone to occupy the home.  If this is your situation, you now have a hefty monthly payment on something that you cannot use.  You most likely have a sense of urgency to get the property cleaned up.  You should follow these guidelines in getting your meth lab home decontaminated.

  1. Call 3 companies and get a quote for testing the property. Why would you test the property instead of decontaminating the property?  You should test the property first because there may be no contamination, or there may be contamination in only a few rooms.  A reputable meth lab cleanup contractor will need to know those results so they can provide you with an appropriate scope of work.
  2. Beware of the lowest bid. Beware of an estimate that is extremely lower than the other two.  There are several contractors in Tennessee and around the country that try to tackle a meth lab by themselves, lack the proper training and education, or are not insured and licensed.  Buyer bewares of this.  If you choose to go the cheap way out and hire an uninsured contractor you will be on the hook for the money you lost and still have a contaminated property.
  3. Make sure the company you hire is using a third party contractor for clearance testing. Some States require this and others do not indicate anything.  It is in your best interest to make sure there is no conflict of interest and you are using a third party company to clearance test the work so that you have no future problems.  Many companies around the country test their own work, which as you can imagine could cause quite a problem.
  4. Your estimate for decontamination should include re-cleaning if the contractor fails to clean the property properly the first time. If you are billed for re-visits where is the incentive to clean it right the first time.
  5. Lastly, if you are in a State that has regulations, make sure the company you hire is licensed to do the work in that State. There are many fire and water damage companies that think they can decontaminate a meth lab.  They usually fail several times because cleaning up a meth lab is nothing like cleaning a fire-damaged property.  Check references and see how many meth labs they have cleaned.  On that same note make sure you are not hiring brokers for your meth lab cleanup project.  There are many brokers around the country that are working out of their home and kitchen table contacting other companies to do the cleanup.  This means you are paying at least 10% more than you should.  I have seen these brokers mark up the estimates over 50%.   Always ask if the contractor will be doing the work himself or herself.

If you are in a remote area and cannot find a meth lab cleanup contractor then you may not have a choice but to use a broker.

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