Grow Ops, Smaller than Planned, Renovations
Four framed art prints on a wall


Dear David,
We’re looking to purchase a “renovation project”. We hear about homes around the city that used to be marijuana grow ops, what signs do we look for to avoid buying one? – Clean Reputation

Dear Clean,

Former grow ops can be tough to spot as efforts are often made to hide the damage that has been done before these homes go up for sale. But there are a few red flags.

Ventilation and electrical alterations can be a tell tale sign of a questionable history. Look up — if you see mould in the corners of walls and ceilings & an unusual number of roof vents (or signs of former roof vents), call in a professional inspector. Evidence of tampering with the electrical meter, wiring on the exterior of the home or the fireplace should also be cause for concern. Also look for fresh paint on window frames (hiding mould from high humidity levels), on concrete floors (hiding marks made by equipment), or in places were it looks like it might be masking large stains.

These are only a few clues. Any suspicions should be followed up with a call to your local police department. An experienced Realtor is likely trained on spotting these indicators of grow ops and more; I make it part of every sales agreement that the property has not been used as a grow op.

Dear David,
We’ve been saving for awhile, but with housing prices going up, we’re going to end up buying something smaller that we originally planned. Any suggestions for how to find a smaller house that fits our needs?

This sounds like a time to draw the line between your wants and needs. When it comes to setting priorities for a smaller home, I like to think about the 3 “B’s”: bathrooms, bedrooms and basement. Consider your morning routine: how many bathrooms are you going to need to get everyone out the door on time? How large is your family (and do you really need a guest room)? And finally, can you finish the basement to expand your living space in the future?

Give some thought to your location. Often, something in a different neighbourhood or smaller nearby town can carry a more reasonable price tag. Consider local amenities, too. A neighbourhood park can eliminate the need for a big yard.

Dear David,
We’re thinking about doing some renovations. Is there anything we should avoid?

I like to think of surfaces as a backdrop rather than a canvas. Keep paint colours neutral and express yourself with colourful art and accessories, unless you plan to paint again before you sell your home. Choose quality finishes, especially when it comes to flooring, as this sets the stage for everything else you do. And while DIY is all the rage, I encourage you to get the work done by a professional, to ensure the best possible results.