Real Estate Story

When Your Home Needs Rehab: Cleaning Up Houses Used as Clandestine Meth Labs

Photo: Kirk Flippin

If the walls of a former meth lab have not been painted, heavy-duty degreaser can clean away toxic chemicals and make a house habitable. But if chemicals have been sealed under a coat of paint, replacing the sheetrock is the only option. Photo: Kirk Flippin

Kirk Flippin has seen some pretty sad situations in his line of work.

Flippin is the owner of Texas Decon Environmental Services, a New Braunfels-based waste cleanup company that addresses methamphetamine lab cleanup as one of its specialties. He once stood in front of a house in Grapevine, Texas, and threw out a little girl’s toys, clothes, and dolls while she watched, heartbroken.

The family had unwittingly purchased a house used as a meth lab by a former owner and the girl’s possessions were contaminated by toxic residue.

It’s not the only time Flippin has found himself in that sort of position: “I have thrown away all of a family’s personal belongings because they were contaminated,” he said.

Between 2004 and 2012, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported 2,349 meth “incidents” in Texas, including labs, dumpsites, or chemical and glassware seizures, and that’s just those discovered by law enforcement. But meth lab cleanup is not big business for Flippin in Texas because there are no laws in place requiring homeowners to clean their house if it has been used as a meth lab.

“When you go to sell a house, on the real estate disclosure form, there’s a question about if it has been used for production of methamphetamines—the homeowner is supposed to tell you,” he said. “But if the house is foreclosed and owned by a bank, the bank does not have to tell you, and a mortgage company does not have to tell you, even if they know. And if the homeowner is the person cooking the meth, they’re not likely to tell you [on the disclosure form].”

This can be a massive problem for unsuspecting homeowners, and can result in big health problems, decreased property values, and tens of thousands of dollars in expenses to take care the toxic mess.

Two years ago, Flippin spoke to lawmakers in Austin about implementing legislation, but nothing happened.

“It can’t be so difficult because 27 other states have regulations in place and we could just copy what they do, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t draw much attention,” he said. “The innocent people, the homeowners, they become the victims. They can’t even live in their house unless they spend a whole lot of money.”

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229 N Brighton A

For this week’s Tuesday Two Hundred, we’re venturing out to the L.O. Daniel neighborhood of North Oak Cliff, to a renovated Craftsman at 229 N. Brighton Ave.

Listed at $225,000, this bungalow is a 3-1 with 1,378 square feet and a saltwater pool. The neighborhood is north of W. Jefferson Boulevard and adjacent to Winnetka Heights, near the intersection of W. Eighth Street and N. Rosemont Avenue. It is listed by Jenni Stolarski with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International.

Built in 1921, this house sits on a tree-lined street and has wonderful curb appeal, with a wide, wood-plank front porch, hanging swing, and a ceiling fan. It also has authentic details, like painted dentil molding above the doors and along the roofline, as well a soft green, cream, and brown color palette. Jump to read more!  (more…)

Thursday Three Hundred: Lakewood Midcentury Reno Hits All the High Notes

6715 Patrick DriveThe theme of today’s Thursday Three Hundred is “gorgeous wood,” both because of the numerous large trees on this house’s lot and the inviting handscraped wood floors throughout the interior of this Lakewood midcentury.

Located at 6715 Patrick Drive, near Mockingbird Lane and Abrams Road, this property was reduced this morning to $317,000. Listed by Franceanna Campagna at Campagna & Associates Realtors, it’s a 3-2 in the popular Mockingbird Hill neighborhood in East Dallas. Jump to read more!  (more…)

Tuesday Two Hundred: Beckley Club Reno with Basement is Stunner in N. Oak Cliff

1511 Seevers D

It’s not news that real estate in North Oak Cliff is hot, hot, hot, especially Kessler Park, Bishop Arts, and Winnetka Heights.

But there’s an up-and-coming neighborhood east of Interstate 35E and a half mile south of the Dallas Zoo that is darling and much less publicized: Beckley Club Estates. This community of about 150 houses, described as “a quiet haven of winding, tree-shaded streets, one-lane bridges, and gently sloping hills” is home to the newly listed property at 1511 Seevers Avenue.

This 2-2 Craftsman-traditional hybrid was built in 1935 and renovated this year by owner and listing agent Greg Hutchinson at Ebby Halliday Realtors. The main house is 1,259 square feet, with a 400-square-foot finished basement, and 250-square-foot guesthouse with full bath and kitchenette. Its list price is $260,000. (more…)

Claremont Reno Drops $2,500 Today, Won’t Be on Market Long

8526SweetwaterK

After not mentioning the Claremont neighborhood for a while, we’re suddenly seeing gem after gem go on the market there. It’s one of my favorite residential areas in East Dallas, with Midcentury personality, mature trees, and memorable style.

The 1962 ranch-style house at 8526 Sweetwood Drive just came on the market Oct. 31 after an extensive renovation, and it’s got loads of charm packed into its 1,773 square feet. Marketed by Ben Fluno of Chris Arnold Premier Realty for $242,500 (it dropped $2,500 today), I’m actually surprised it’s still on the market. Take a look and I think you’ll agree.

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The landscape, pool, and kitchen in this West Lawther Drive home overlooking White Rock Lake were redone by woman-owned-and-operated construction firm Homecorp.

The landscape, pool, and kitchen in this West Lawther Drive home overlooking White Rock Lake were redone by woman-owned-and-operated construction firm Homecorp.

By Giselle Phelps
Special Contributor

There’s an amazing remodel along the shores of White Rock Lake we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive look at. Sandy Tabacinic’s firm, Homecorp, has been working on this breathtaking project for the past three years. The 8,000 square foot property is located on the 3000 block of West Lawther Drive. It’s lake living in the heart of Dallas at its finest.

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Imperial-House-575x378

Has the political climate of re-development resistance in Preston Hollow killed off any chances of re-developing Imperial House?NO-to-Transwestern-Deal

We have written a lot about the quirky high density community called Behind The Pink Wall, a corner of Preston Hollow Gold Coast at the north-east intersection of Northwest Highway and Preston Road. We have told you how the area was named — by Ebby Halliday herself, legend has it, who once lived there in the uber cool Jaguar Apartments that still exist. Talk about mid century modern, the units are older, but graceful, apartments turned into condos, many with with kidney shaped pools housing retirees, divorcees and widows. There are two high rises ( the Athena and Preston Towers), a couple of mid-rises and several condo complexes from the 1950s and 60′s. It was Hal Anderson, the area’s biggest developer, who in 1954 built his first apartment project on the north side of Northwest Highway and put a section of curvy pink-bricked wall out front. Residents in the rental units would say, we live at Preston and Northwest Highway, “behind the pink wall”, probably to indicate which corner. It had a catch to it. You know what happens when one successful development goes up: others follow. Hal Anderson developed the high-rise Athena and Preston Tower apartments in the 1960s, creating some of the first upscale living for North Dallas. (more…)

Kim Armstrong's office in Little Forest Hills was once the dilapidated home of a hoarder. Instead of tearing it down, Armstrong painstakingly renovated the cottage.

Kim Armstrong’s office in Little Forest Hills was once the dilapidated home of a hoarder. Instead of tearing it down, Armstrong painstakingly renovated the cottage.

By Kim Armstrong
Interior Designer, Kim Armstrong Interior Design

As an interior designer I’m a huge proponent of renovations versus tear downs. I’m not only a renovator for my own home and office, but some of my favorite design projects come from renovations and not new builds. This is a topic that is close to my heart, so if you are considering what to do with your home, and if you feel that your home can’t meet the needs of your current lifestyle, I say don’t give up on it so quickly. Your home can become the comfortable charmer you desire. The option to renovate can provide far greater benefits than you ever imagined.

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