A Grow-Op: “The House Is Finished”


A Grow-Op: “The House Is Finished”

 “The House Is Finished” – That quote from the newspaper says it all. Grow-ops do an incredible amount of damage to a home.

Most large metropolitan areas in Canada and the US have from 300, 500 and up to 1000 in some cases, discovered every year. That’s more than one a day!


Headline – “$1 million in pot plants found in Pointe-Claire house. Two arrested.”

Details: Newspaper article

Grow-op plant

This one is in my city. And this house will basically have to be gutted and rebuilt.

I just heard from a neighbour about a home less than a block away that had been used as a warehouse for stolen goods. Once the thieves were arrested and the stuff removed it went back to being a regular house with a family living in it.

But not so for grow-ops. That house is just a structure and a badly damaged one at that. It’ll be a long time before it sees a family living there again.


Here’s the rub. These houses don’t disappear. They get repaired, patched or covered up. Owners often don’t have the money to thoroughly correct and rebuild these structures back into family homes.

Why? In Canada, at least, you cannot get a mortgage for a property that has been used as a grow-op. Not from an A lender (bank), nor B, nor C. Period. Nada. Nope. Not going to happen. At all.

So landlords or investment owners have to have deep pockets to restore these building. Few have the resources, so the cover-up attempts happen.

So if you buy such a home or building and later discover that it has been a grow-op, you’re in trouble. You won’t be able to refinance to do corrective repairs, insurance won’t cover it and your mortgage will be at risk of being rescinded.

Seeking redress from prior owners who will be long gone, or in jail, will be problematic to say the least.

What protection do you have in the buying process?; It’s your building inspector.

You need that inspection to identify what has happened in the house, the kinds of repairs done and why they occurred.

Remember, a properly restored home will be fine. But an improper restoration or a cover-up is something you need to know about.








Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”.

 Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”. Yes believe it or not this is rot. Ordinary wood rot is the process of decay due to the breakdown of the wood fiber components as they are exposed to mold, micro-organisms, insects and water. This is a complete ecology with the mold eating the wood and other things feeding on the mold and weakened wood and others feeding on them, etcetera, etcetera. rotten veranda post. It can occur right before your eyes, as in this case, as well as in hidden locations. Primarily all that is required is the relatively frequent recurrence or constant presence of water. Other than that it’s the right temperature range and the ubiquitous presence of mold spores and the rest of the micro-biology team. (They’re always waiting in the wings.) Here this is outdoors on a secluded corner of the veranda, and the caulk that was used to ‘seal’ where the wood and concrete touched is still there.  Caulk only works between some materials, in drained conditions and is the back-up to proper flashing or other separation controls. Caulking instead of the classic separation and flashing details will only work for a short time. Here’s the shocker (for some);Believe it or not –  Just like copper is a conductor for electricity, concrete (and cement and masonry) conducts water.  It does not have to be cracked or broken to transmit water to wood in contact with it. Just being in touch, in contact is sufficient. That’s why framing sills (mud sills) and basement wall shoe plates have to be gasketed between the wood and the concrete. Old school material was tar paper. Now there are rolls of foam plastic/vinyl gasketing available in widths to match the dimensions of the wood. So in this case the caulking sealed out nothing. It actually prevented drying of the wood here which would have preserved it longer. The concrete conducted water to the face end of this 4×4 column and the end grain would draw in the water by capliarry action, similar to a straw but driven by chemical affinity rather than suction forces. This is how water moves in the living tree. So evert time this concrete surface got wet from weather or garden watering it delivered water to the wood. The paint and caulking kept the water in place so the wood rotted. Believe it or not, this was pressure treated wood. The rest of the column is dry and has no rot.  The guaranty or warranty instruction for this product promises that it will last for 20 years outdoors provided it is not in contact with water or water retaining materials. It can even be in ground contact as long as it rests in a drained gravel bed. Fortunately for this homeowner this column is not structural. It’s just “hanging in there”.   Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Most of you probably slept right through it (the quake), Yes – we usually do.

Most of you probably slept right through it (the quake), Yes – we usually do.

That’s right, we usually do, or other wise not notice because we’re driving or otherwise in motion. Yeah, I’m talking about last night’s earthquake.


 I’m usually one of those who ‘miss’ it but last night was the exception. I experienced a 10 second pulse of shaking that left no doubt as to what it was.

Some people heard a bang and some experienced just shaking. If you or your property is on rocky ground or bedrock you’d have heard the bang more. If your house sits on clay you’d have been shaken longer and heard less noise. Those on higher floors do sometimes feel more motion, depending on the type of structure.

 As a Montreal home and property inspector I have to tell you that whether or not you noticed it, your house surely did. You may have some wall or basement cracks appear, existing cracks open and close, or there may be no noticeable effects at all.

 I often get asked if basement cracks are structural and what the cause might be. Same thing for wall cracks in 1950s built homes.

Last night we experienced a rare occurrence (thankfully) that does cause this type of cracking.

 If you have a crack in concrete or masonry that has opened more than a pencil thickness, or has one side moved (in-out, up-down) compared to the other side then you should have it evaluated by a professional like me.

 1950s built homes with plaster-gypsum lath walls are rigid and inflexible. They crack easily. Hairline cracking is common.

 But if your walls are joint taped gyproc (i.e. drywall) and you have a new crack after last nights quake then that is more significant because this system already allows some movement.

Call or email me if you have any doubt or concerns.


Robert Butler 514 914 1249, robert.butler@aspectinspection.com


N.B.   The quake occurred in the fault line (system) that is responsible for the straight north south axis of the Richelieu River.  Most major rivers have such fault lines associated with them.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post