Meth testing - how to look for warning signs in a new home

Published: 14 July 2021

Meth affected homes are a continuing and growing problem in New Zealand.

While houses used to cook meth (i.e. meth labs) are increasing, simply smoking meth once in a home is enough to produce a positive test result.

So how do you know if a house has been used to cook or smoke meth?

That’s the problem - you don’t.

Only a thorough inspection can tell for sure if there are traces of methamphetamine in a building. And while your new home may seem fine, it’s amazing what a lick of paint can cover.

What is the history of meth?

Methamphetamine (or “P” as it’s commonly known in New Zealand) was first synthesised in 1887, and a crystallised form produced in Japan 30 years later. It was used during the second world war by the Nazis to “boost” soldiers during combat, and then in the 1950s and 60s it was marketed as a slimming pill and used to fight depression. Once people started to become addicted by the thousands, the government quickly banned its sale and use.

After becoming illegal, the drug started being produced by biker gangs in California, and from there began to spread around the world. While it was always available in some form in New Zealand, the methamphetamine trade exploded around the turn of the millennium, with lab busts, arrests and Customs seizures increasing year to year since then.

drug paraphernalia

What are the health consequences of methamphetamine?

Meth has a long list of health effects, both short and long term. When taken, meth will give a false sense of energy and invincibility, causing the user to push their body further than it should go. Once the drug wears off, this results in a severe crash, or physical and mental breakdown.

Long term effects are shocking. Damage to the heart, liver, lungs and brain are all common. Strokes, heart-attacks and brain damage are the biggest killers of meth users, while those who recover usually have memory loss, extreme mood swings, depression and severe weight loss.

What are the warning signs?

While the only way to be sure you’re not buying a meth affected house is to have it professionally tested, there are always warning signs to look out for. Be aware of any chemical smells on the property, such as paint thinner or varnish. Many people describe a ‘hospital smell’ or a type of ‘vinegary’ smell. Ammonia is also a big clue, so don’t just pass it off as cat urine.

Of course, visual clues should also stand out.

What you can do about it

To be 100% certain your home is meth free, you need to contact us.

Our qualified and experienced technicians can forensically test your home for a range of drugs and chemicals, giving you, and your family, peace of mind.

Before buying a home, we strongly recommend a thorough building inspection, including meth testing.

Never sign on the dotted line before confirming your house isn’t a health and safety disaster.

Meth affected homes are on the rise in New Zealand, and buying one can mean financial ruin. It’s better to discover now that your dream home is contaminated rather than being unable to live in it and unable to sell it.

Call us today with any questions you may have about meth testing or building inspections in general.

Our friendly and experienced staff will be happy to help in any way they can.

Tell-tale signs of production of meth include the left-over equipment. While these may be everyday items such as glass jars or old cans, they might be fitted with hoses, clamps or duct tape. Rubber gloves, dust masks and coffee filters are all household objects, but they should at least raise a red flag.

Who are HS Building Inspections?​

​HS Building Inspections specialise in full comprehensive, non-invasive reports on your home and property. Our professional and highly experienced team are qualified to undertake building inspections, including thermographic, structural and electrical inspections.

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