We all know Mike Holmes – the guy with biceps the size of tires, who rights wrongs when it comes to home renovations. But at Marketplace, we team up with Mike tonight to tackle a growing (no pun intended) problem in Canada – homes that are used for marijuana grow-ops, then sold to unsuspecting buyers.
The RCMP estimates there are thousands of houses being used for grow-ops today, often in quiet, suburban neighbourhoods where you’d least expect them. They’re often quietly patched up – leaving new homeowners stuck with mold, structural and electrical issues.
Theresa Denton was happy with her house purchase near Kamloops, British Columbia, until she learned it’d been a grow-op for almost a decade. Today, she’s facing a bill that could top $100,000 just to make her home safe to live in. Her walls are covered in mold, and her son’s developed such a severe mold allergy, he has to take medication to help him breathe.
Denton – like other unsuspecting homeowners – hired a home inspector before she bought her house. But in his report, he makes no mention of mold all over the attic walls. “He had a flashlight,” says Denton. “Either he’s not telling the truth, or he’s just completely incompetent.”
It’s a story Mike Holmes is hearing more and more - home inspectors who don’t spot costly problems, especially when it comes to spotting grow-op warning signs. “I think we need to do something about the home inspection industry,” says Holmes. “It’s obvious that it’s not working.”
But in Canada, there are no requirements for home inspectors to get any training to spot grow-ops. In fact, what training is required to be a home inspector varies across the country. In most provinces, anyone can hang out a “home inspector” shingle, and if they give you bad advice, your only recourse is a lengthy and costly court case.
When we caught up with Theresa Denton’s home inspector, he told us he wasn’t responsible for Denton’s nightmare, and his contract even says so.
Denton’s now suing her home inspector, the former owner of the house, and her real estate agent. Sadly, the courts are full of cases like Denton’s – homebuyers who thought a home inspection would protect them.
On Marketplace tonight, find out what happens when we ask four home inspectors to check out a former grow-op near Toronto. Marketplace airs tonight at 8:30 p.m. on CBC Television, 9 in Newfoundland.