How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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Should I buy a house with strong cigarette odor?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A home with residual tobacco smoke odor is harder to sell and fetches a lower price compared to an odor-free home. If you are considering buying a home formerly occupied by a heavy smoker, be sure that the discount from market value you are getting is enough to offset the cost of odor removal. A recent tobacco odor mitigation by a professional contractor for a home in the Gainesville area cost the buyer $5,000 for a 2600 square foot house. 

     Here’s an example of wall and ceiling staining in the home of a heavy smoker.

   If you decide to tackle the project yourself, here’s what has to be done, assuming you are working with an empty house that has had all furniture and personal belongings removed:

  1. Remove and replace all carpeting and curtains. Scrub the floor under carpeting before replacement. For light smoke odor, professional cleaning of carpet and curtains may be acceptable.
  2. Walls and ceilings coated with a sealer and repainted. It may be necessary to lightly clean some surfaces first, to remove any surface oils/grease. We recommend Zinsser’s B-I-N shellac-based primer/sealer as a first coat to keep any odors from penetrating the final coats of paint.
  3. Throughly clean all hard surfaces, such as kitchen cabinets, windows, blinds, and plumbing fixtures. Ammonia or a stain and odor removal product with an oxidizing agent is recommended.
  4. Replace light bulbs.
  5. Use a filter at the air conditioner that has a layer of activated charcoal, such as the 3M Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter, set the fan at “ON” to run continuously, and change filter frequently until odor is gone.

   Don’t get burnt. Be sure to allow for both the expense of the cleaning and also the lost time that the house cannot be occupied while the smoke odor is being mitigated when you negotiate the purchase price, otherwise any  savings will go up in smoke. 

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about “SHOULD I BUY A…”:

Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage?

 Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage that has been repaired? 

Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line?

 Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits? 

Should I buy a house with structural problems?

• Should I buy a house with fire damage?

• Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

• Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair?  

• Should I buy a foreclosure house if the bank refuses to turn on the utilities (electric, water, gas)?

• What should I look for when buying a former rental house? 

• What should I look for when buying a house that is being "flipped" by an investor seller? 

• What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure?  

• Should I buy a fixer-upper? 

Should I buy a house that is a former marijuana grow house? 

• Should I buy a house with a high radon level? 

• Should I buy a house with galvanized steel water pipes? 

• Should I buy a house with asbestos siding? 

• Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair?

    Visit our “SHOULD I BUY A…" page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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