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Buying Land with garbage  RSS feed

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Question when it comes to purchasing land. Have come across some beautiful properties with barns, chicken coop, and home on site. Pretty much ready to go! Biggest downfall...Garbage. Lots and lots of garbage. Including needles...not for medical purposes. Also comes with a diaper hill! We considered well..maybe?? But I would want to bid lower to cover costs if we were required a hazmat team to examine the lands. My biggest question...is it worth it?? Any guidance would be extremely appreciated!!
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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How long has the property been unoccupied?  Is it a "Local druggies" hang out?  or was the previous occupant diabetic?
These are good questions to ask the seller or agent so you can determine how deep that "trash" might be.
If you can determine that the trash might be only on the surface, then it would be worth purchasing (to me).

The land we bought was a burn out double wide that the owners just walked away from in 2006, We completed the purchase in 2013 and found Needles and burned house scrape off junk everywhere around the previous home site.
The needles it turned out were from the owners, the wife had been diabetic and along with the needles we found a lot of small, insulin type vials, also glass fragments, metal bits, concrete, brick, etc. all within the top foot of soil.
Most of this junk was a result of the fire department using a dozer to scrape the remains into a huge pile (we call that pile the "junk heap") at the edge of the property. There is no telling what contaminants it contains so we just covered it with fresh cut brush as we re-cleared the site.
Now we have tons of brush, tree pieces and other organic materials covering the junk heap and fungi are going wild there, this is a benefit since those fungi strains are capable of cleaning up just about any contaminant that might be in the junk heap.

We have plans to fence that area so none of our animals can get into it, so far we have been able to leave it accessible for more brush additions but by next year we will have it surrounded with fencing and maybe have a gate for more brush additions.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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I have a couple of dumps on my farm. I might have missed a few but I can think of 9 off the top of my head.

Most are from the 1950's before municipal dumps became standard operating practice around here, and their age is evidenced by the rusted tin cans and glass bottle (the latter which are fun to rummage through however).

That being said, one area is a licensed, deeded and confirmed municipal dump. It is properly sealed and all that, so we are confident in its enclosure, but it did make the paperwork on buying that part of the farm a bit tougher. Just some extra paper work, legal fees, etc, but the bank was fine with it.
 
Jennifer Trahan
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Thank you both for your replies! In regards to the needles, it is defiantly drug related vs medical. So that is what primarily concerns me because we have our pooch, and three year old daughter who will be on the property. The home has been unoccupied for a few months, and seems that they were evicted from the premises from the evidence around. The realtor didn't seem to know anything in regards to the home so he wasn't able to provide further information either.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Odds are that you could get most of that refuse up with yard broom rakes and a high power magnet (those needles are magnetic).
If you happen to have a lawn tractor (mower) you might be able to get a "Yard Sweeper" attachment that would pick up almost anything on the surface and just below it if you set it to the lowest position.
Just some ideas of how to deal with that issue should you decide to buy.
 
pollinator
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GArbage is the opportunity for you! It devaluates the property but a bit of arm grease gets the garbage out. It is a good negotiation point.
The only thin is I would look in the corners were th garbage could hide some major faults, leaking roofs water pipes etc....
 
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The magnet is a great idea.  Harbor Frate has them to clean parking lots and construction sites.  Some on wheels to drag around.
 
pollinator
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When life gives you lemons . . .

Surface-resting garbage is easy to deal with.  If you were looking at chemically laden soils from a toxic spill, I'd say run away as fast as you can.  But garbage --- that can be picked up.  If those needles have been laying around out there, particularly in the sun, there is no danger of contracting AIDS or hepatitis from the needles.  Those likely pathogens are dead.  Is it likely that there heroin or other drugs still present?  Doubtful --- druggies want to put that stuff in their bodies, not leave even a drop of it in their syringe.  If there were trace amounts, how badly would you have to stab yourself and get the plunger to inject that poison into you?   Highly unlikely.

So the worst possible scenario is that you'll poke yourself.  OK -- get a tetanus shot before you start cleaning up..

There may be a huge gift in all this.  If you can save 10% or more on the cost of the house and land, you have a tremendous opportunity.  You've got to get past the eewww factor and see that someone may have done you a big favor.  I would, however, make sure whomever does the inspection has some way of testing to see if they were cooking meth on your site.  That stuff is highly toxic.  Residue from a meth lab is very expensive to remediate.  I know this from a friend who discovered that renters in one of his properties were running a meth lab in a garage.  They had to strip the drywall back to the studs and have it hauled away by hazmat guys. 

If you were to estimate how much garbage is on site, what would you say?  How many truck-loads?  Are we talking hundreds of loads or just a couple?  The average cost of a 20 yard construction dumpster is $400.  Even if you needed 5 dumpsters like that, it would still only cost you $2000.  How much could you save on the cost of the house?  $10,000?  More?  Sounds like a value to me.  If you're only talking about one dumpster, then you'll have the place cleaned-up in a week.  If I could save thousands of dollars for one week of labor, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Buy low, sell high. The problem is the solution (or at least a tremendous opportunity).
 
pollinator
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I didn't buy land with trash, my husband inherited it.  There is no waste management here, so people just dump their trash in their farms or in the bush.  In fact they consider it "fertilizer".  We cleaned up the surface stuff pretty easy, but I still find trash in my gardens that got tilled under, or buried by erosion.  Lastly I turned up a broken shoe, circa 1960.  I second what others have said, if its just household trash and some drug paraphernalia... Use it to drive down the price, then clean it up.  Do use care cleaning up the needles, wear hard soled shoes, gloves.  Put them in a box so they don't poke anyone else down the line.  A magnet is a great idea.  HIV only survives a few seconds outside the body, but hepatitis can lurk in dried blood.  Its really satisfying when it's done, and the trash heap is now a garden.
 
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Marco Banks wrote: I would, however, make sure whomever does the inspection has some way of testing to see if they were cooking meth on your site.  That stuff is highly toxic.  Residue from a meth lab is very expensive to remediate.  I know this from a friend who discovered that renters in one of his properties were running a meth lab in a garage.  They had to strip the drywall back to the studs and have it hauled away by hazmat guys.



We bought a foreclosed house, and we were concerned about methamphetamine production.

So we did two things. First, we bought a test kit. You swab around in thirty places or so, see if there's any meth residue on the surfaces. It was cheap, under $50.

The second, I talked with an acquaintance who owns a hazard testing company (you know, the kind that comes and tests your house for mold, asbestos, meth, etc.). I asked him what was the dangerous part of meth production, and he said the meth itself. So far, so good. I mean, we keep bleach, gasoline, acetone, and other hazardous things around the house now. I hadn't heard of any specific ultra-dangerous chemical used in meth production, like necroxylene or something, but I wasn't sure. He said, no, what you're worried about is the meth itself. But then I asked him... people ingest that stuff on purpose. It's not good for you, but it IS for consumption. If people eat it and enjoy it, exactly how bad can it hurt me if there's some spilled on the workbench and it gradually evaporates and I smell it? If spilling meth on the workbench and smelling it got very much into your body, then people would do that on purpose!
He didn't have an answer to that.

So between confirming that there was no meth in my house and confirming that it's only the meth itself that you're supposed to be afraid of, I decided to not be afraid at all.
 
Travis Johnson
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That is false security.

About a year ago a St Johnsbury Vermont 2 year old was playing at his recently purchased abandoned property and happened upon meth-making supplies and it blew up in his face. He nearly died and spent months at the Shiners Hospital in Boston for burn treatment.

Meth is made from a variety of products and in talking with the local fire department today, they are now getting special training by the FBI on how to deal with meth-lab suspected fires.

Scary stuff.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Travis Johnson wrote:About a year ago a St Johnsbury Vermont 2 year old was playing at his recently purchased abandoned property and happened upon meth-making supplies and it blew up in his face. He nearly died and spent months at the Shiners Hospital in Boston for burn treatment.

   Here's the only similar news story I could find about meth in St. Johnsbury.

I'm not suggesting that meth-related chemicals that a previous owner might leave around aren't dangerous. I'm just suggesting they're not more dangerous than all the other chemicals a previous owner might have left around.

If he owned a car, antifreeze is scary (it's scary because it's tasty).
If he was an old-fashioned homesteader, strychnine (rat poison) is scary.
If he was an unscrupulous fisherman, sodium cyanide is scary.
If he was into mushroom collecting, Amanita bisporigera is scary.
There are an enormous number of scary things that a previous owner might leave around your place that will hurt you if you eat, breathe, or touch them. Anybody buying somebody else's mess should carefully, cautiously, clean the whole thing up. Meth ingredients are just one more thing to worry about on a very long list.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oh I hear ya. I am a 9th generation sheep farmer, and my forefathers used stuff that sadly we still use today for the sheep. It is bad stuff. It is horrible for the soil, traps particulates in the air, and if given to the sheep in high enough concentrations, can even kill them. Of course I am talking about....water!

The point is, EVERYTHING can kill, even the stuff that is essential for life, but Meth Lab stuff is explosive and lurking.

I am sure statistically speaking, water kills more people per year than fire bombs, BUT I am much more concerned about being blown up by tossing gasoline on a campfire then the huge lake I might be camped beside. And so with abandoned places, while a host of things can kill, meth-lab stuff can kill explosively as the toddler sadly found out in Vermont.
 
pollinator
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Meth is made mainly from pseudoephedrine, red phosphorus, and iodine, none of which are particularly dangerous.  Red phosphorus is extremely flammable and once ignited is very hard to put out, but other than that, I personally wouldn't be concerned.  The odds of the place being a previous meth house are also pretty darn slim.  I would be more concerned about cutting myself on an old rusty piece of barbed wire or having fuel oil or something soaked into the ground.

Redhawk's idea of using the magnet is a very good one.  I have one of the shop ones with wheels and it works really well.  If you use it in grass, you have to listen for the noise of the metal hitting the magnet.  If you keep going after you pick something up, the grass will scrape it loose again. 

If it were me and I decided to buy it, I second the dumpster idea.  I would wear gloves, watch out for broken glass, and use the magnet.  After that, shovels and sweat are going to take care of the problem.
 
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Would the neighbours be able to tell you anything about the previous tenants?  Or is it a nasty area? Can you get an environmental health person to look it over?

Maybe a metal detector could help to scan the area and get up any stray needles.  I might be more worried about mold in the diaper nest personally.

At the worst it might be bulldozer removal of piles of stuff.
 
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Needles should be surgical stainless steel- typically not magnetic.
 
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