The Opportunities and Risks That Come With Buying Former Grow-Ops

Money by Quinn Dombrowski
Possible Gain by Quinn Dombrowski

Risky investments yield higher possible gains. That’s one of the basic principles that applies to buying former grow-ops. The question associated with grow-ops is, “Where’s the line between uncomfortable and dangerous?” There’s an active public debate about the possible dangers of grow-ops in Canada. Many people who are considering buying new property are aware that it could have served as a grow-op. From the map of disclosed grow-ops published in the Calgary herald, we can assume that grow-ops are practically in all neighbourhoods. The increasing consumption of marijuana among the Canadian population is the main reason why more and more people create these growing facilities inside their homes.

The Risks To Be Aware of

  • Damaged electrical circuit
  • Possible damage to the house structure
  • Fire and chemical hazard

The biggest risk with a marijuana growing operation is linked with the necessity of huge amounts of electricity. Grow-op owners often try to avoid paying bills by illegally connecting the facility to a power source. This type of upgrade is hard to hide and you should be able to identify whether the property was violating security standards. It’s necessary to check the electrical installations everywhere. I can’t stress enough the importance of a safe electrical network in your home, since it can be dangerous to your life and property.

Humidity by Judson Dunn
Humidity by Judson Dunn

The other problem is the increase of humidity, fungus, and mould in the interior. High temperatures and large amounts of plants in enclosed spaces can have a negative effect on the walls, ceilings, and floors. This danger doubles if the property includes parts that are made of wood. If you’re aware of the previous property use as a grow-op, you should contact professionals to check it out. You can also try to search for any extra clues such as wet spots on the walls, waved flooring, or any other type of damage. You should pay extra attention in the basement, which is usually the most affected room.

Chemical risks for prospective buyers of former grow-ops are small. The probability that the previous owner forgot some chemicals is low. The contamination from a grow-op is modest because growing does not include any acids or poisons. As the next owner, you should not be afraid too much of this risk.

Having More Concerns?

  • Higher crime and violence rates in your neighbourhood
  • Lack of information from your Realtor

If you’re planning on buying a house or apartment that was possibly a marijuana growing operation, you should ask your Realtor. It’s obligatory for him to inform you whether the property was involved in any type of criminal activity before. You can find more information about the obligations of your realtor in this RCMP informational article. Even though the article serves as a good base for information, I have to express my doubts about the negative impact grow-ops have on crime rates.

Grow-ops are practically in every neighbourhood (as you could see on the map) — from the most affluent to the poorest. Does this mean that there is more crime in every neighbourhood? Of course not. Following the Calgary Police Commission 2011 Survey the perception of security among our citizens has almost doubled in the last three years. The perceived change in Calgary Crime Rate was also strongly in favour of lowering the rates of crime. Even though there are no direct statistics about marijuana abuse, we can conclude that the impact of grow-ops on the general security in our city has been minimal.


  • Lower price of the property
  • Good heat isolation
  • You will probably not even realize the property served as grow-op

The risks discussed above can be nullified by the equipment or strategy of the growing operation. If the previous owner used the best technology for planting marijuana, you’re not in danger when you decide to buy the property. Better technology provides more efficient and safer ways to plant indoor marijuana while reducing the risks to residents and the property. Digital technology and software programs are able to switch off the lights and maintain the best temperature and humidity. Plants can be controlled by wireless cameras and any type of information is available online.


Check Electricity by Keeping it Real
Check Electricity by Sarah G.

There are probably some grow-ops in your vicinity already. If you’re considering buying a former grow-op, you can make a good deal — especially if there was modern equipment used. If you don’t feel secure, it’s better to hire professionals to check the property for you. The price will be less than the possible risks to your safety. If you see the grow-op as a possible centre of crime in the neighbourhood then you are probably wrong. Marijuana is an illegal drug, but there is no clear impact on crime rates in Calgary. We can’t necessarily portray marijuana growers as criminals with arms and traps around their properties, which is the image police are trying to present. The main goal of running grow-ops is to remain undisclosed, not to present a threat to neighbours.

The biggest danger I can identify with grow-ops is the fact that the previous owners could modify the electrical network and could have drilled holes into the walls where they do not belong. If you’re not sure about the property, you should call a specialist who will make a complete review.

If you’re buying a disclosed grow-op property, ask your realtor about the details of the operation. There is a big difference between a two-months and two-year operation. It’s also important to ask how many rooms were used for it. The price reduction should be high enough to cover all expenses needed for renovation and it should provide you with enough incentive to buy.

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