[Updated:Sale fell through]Looking at buying a new home that needs serious smoke remediation.

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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Hey guys my wife and I are looking at purchasing a new home the main issue with it is the awful smoke smell. The guy who built it and his ex wife must have been chain smokers because the smell is pretty pungent on both floors and in the basement.. Here is the listing. As you can see it has a lot of sq. footage to deal with.

Does anyone know what is involved in smoke remediation? I'm assuming new paint, carpet, and some type of ozone treatment are a must but does anyone else have some good general advice? Maybe you've gone through it before and know what worked and what was a waste of money. With a home this size what would be a good ballpark estimate on remediation? $5k, $8k, or more?
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
20,343
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Paint (over quality primer), carpet, and cleaning will probably do the job. Based on the price of that house I assume it's in Cambodia, so I don't have a clue as to what that work would cost. If I had to guess I'd say two hundred bucks and a goat.
Here in the sunny Bay Area, you'd be looking at south of eighteen grand.
 

jmagg

Platinum Member
Nov 21, 2001
2,010
349
126
It really depends on how bad the walls and ceilings are. If the walls are stained yellow from nicotine, it can be a real pia cleaning before primer, as nicotine stubbornly bleeds through. Kilz oil may help but brutal to work with.
 
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drnickriviera

Platinum Member
Jan 30, 2001
2,415
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Going through this with a house i just bought. He was a chain smoker too. Ozone did nothing. It may help with a light smoke odor. We had the generator cranked to 11 where you couldn't even be in the house, just run in, shut it off, open a window, and run out. We had to spray oil primer from top to bottom, molding to ceiling. We tried different cleaners and bleach worked the best. Everything, doors, windows, trims, walls, ceiling was scrubbed by hand with bleach before priming. There are a few options for primers. Latex like Kilz Max (I guess they say it is an epoxy base). I didn't want to risk it not working and just used a gallon for things i didn't want to spray, like a closet. Oil primers. Someone made an argument for not using kilz as it had extra solvents for quick drying that weren't necessary for odor blocking, and to use use regular oil primer. BIN Shellac primer. Lots of painters recommend this. Alcohol based, so you need lots of ventilation. Wasn't suitable for me in the summer with 95F heat. As far as nicotine bleed, someone said nicotine is water soluble, so that's why you don't have luck with latex primers.

One thing you'll need to figure out is if the nicotine is in the duct work. I don't have a smell now, but i'm also planning on ripping out all the duct work and starting from new later. I'm not sure if there is a way to get it out of the ducts even if it is rigid pipe.

I have no idea on cost, it is a lot of manual labor.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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Awesome advice thanks everyone. We went and looked at it again today for the fourth time but this time we took a contractor with us so give us a rough idea on what it cost to some remodeling in the home and what he thought about the smell. His over all impressions were that the smell was only really bad on the fist floor and it would only cost around $3K to get rid of the smell.

Our remodeling budget is $20K so we put an offer in on the home for $230K and so begins the negotiation process. Our max amount to buy the home for is around $240K to stay in under budget so we will see what happens.
 

KeithP

Diamond Member
Jun 15, 2000
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His overall impressions were that the smell was only really bad on the first floor and it would only cost around $3K to get rid of the smell.

Has he done smoke remediation before and did he give you the quote in writing with a guarantee? I ask because if the cost was only going to be about $3K it would seem like something that the current owners would have done before putting the house on the market.

I wouldn't go forward with the sale until I received a written estimate from a company that specializes, or has lots of experience, in this type of work.

-KeithP
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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No we didn't get it in writing but we did call around to several other restoration services in our area that specialize in smoke(fire and nicotine), water, and other types of disaster remediation and the price lined up with what he said. No remediation services in our area guarantee nicotine smoke remediation.
I mean it's hard to get a written quote from anyone when you don't own the home and they can't come over and see what is needed in person.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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No we didn't get it in writing but we did call around to several other restoration services in our area that specialize in smoke(fire and nicotine), water, and other types of disaster remediation and the price lined up with what he said. No remediation services in our area guarantee nicotine smoke remediation.
I mean it's hard to get a written quote from anyone when you don't own the home and they can't come over and see what is needed in person.

I’m a realtor and people in my office have paid for cigarette smoke remediation, not sure of the cost but it’s not that expensive, few hundred dollars kind of cost. They claim the result is nearly odor free.
I’d recommend not going with the cheapest person, I’ve found time after time the the cheapest is usually the crappiest at doing work. Go with someone priced in the middle for better results.
 

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
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meettomy.site
I rent houses and keep them all smoke free. On occasion a tenant will start smoking in one of my houses. Obviously they will lose their security deposit. To remove a heavy smoke last time, I had to replace all the carpet and pad, paint the entire interior, clean the duct work, and then even had to replace some insulation in the attic. His security deposit did not cover all this work. Yes, I tried spraying with Febreeze, PineSol and other chemicals only to have the smoke come back in a day or two. Companies claimed they could steam the carpets and pad and get the smoke out, but not one worked. I now check much better for smokers in my houses and give notice if they start smoking. I cannot charge a high enough deposit (and rent the house) that would cover the damage from smoking. I'll probably sue the guy for the remaining damage, but unlikely I'll get anything.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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So we settled on a $240k selling price. All the contracts are signed and we dropped off the earnest money check today. So all things considered inspections aside of course it looks like the house is ours.

I'll keep this thread updated as we get into the home and really find out what we are in for. Thanks again everyone for your advice so far and I hope you keep providing it as our family moves forward into our new home!:)
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
67,295
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www.anyf.ca
Getting a bunch of ozone generators in there may be worth trying too before you do the repaint. You'd want to leave them there for a couple days at least with the furnace fan blower on to circulate the air and maybe even a bunch more fans. More air movement the better. Some home restoration companies may be able to lend you some.

Might want to wash all surfaces before too just to get the worse off.

I figure it's worth a shot anyway, but you may end up having to repaint after all. Also you won't want to be or go in the house while those things are running. When it comes time to turn them off you'll want to be able to do it fast and then get out again, then maybe go back in to open windows.

it's not just walls either, but stuff like kitchen cabinets that might also have the smell.
 

NetWareHead

THAT guy
Aug 10, 2002
5,854
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Ive tackled smoke remediation in the following order.
Remove all carpets/pads.
Pay for duct cleaning.
Prime all interior walls and ceilings with a heavy duty stain blocking oil based primer.
Paint everything after.
If smell still present, run the hvac on fan only mode on high with ozone machines running to circulate throughout entire house and ductwork. 24-48 hours.
Reinstall all elec outlet and switch plates.
New carpet/pads
Good luck.
 

Raizinman

Platinum Member
Sep 7, 2007
2,350
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Once it gets into the walls and insulation, it takes quite a bit to get it fully out. I had a renter who told me that they would always go outside to smoke and even though I had him leave a hefty triple security deposit, why would I think in the cold winter he would get dressed and go outside to smoke? Then from his perspective, once he knows that he is going to lose his security deposit due to smoke, why even try anymore. This is the situation I ran into. He was a two pack a day smoker including cigars and the house cost me thousands more than his security deposit to get back into shape. I will never rent to a smoker again.
 
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bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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Well it looks like the sale fell through. Yesterday afternoon we met with our realtor and inspector to go over the house. While we were waiting for the realtor to show up I struck up a conversation with a man who pulled onto the side lot. After talking to him and doing a little research it turns out the listing agent and the seller were both lying about the size of the lot. It's only on a half acre not a full acre like the MLS sheet, listing agent and seller said when we asked them directly. So after careful consideration my wife and I decided it wasn't for us.
I want to thank everyone for your suggestions on smoke remediation they were appreciated.
 

KeithP

Diamond Member
Jun 15, 2000
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Too bad…hopefully you will find a place soon. Good luck in your search.

-KeithP
 

lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
57,390
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Well it looks like the sale fell through. Yesterday afternoon we met with our realtor and inspector to go over the house. While we were waiting for the realtor to show up I struck up a conversation with a man who pulled onto the side lot. After talking to him and doing a little research it turns out the listing agent and the seller were both lying about the size of the lot. It's only on a half acre not a full acre like the MLS sheet, listing agent and seller said when we asked them directly. So after careful consideration my wife and I decided it wasn't for us.
I want to thank everyone for your suggestions on smoke remediation they were appreciated.
Never trust a realtor. If you walk a property, and they tell you where the boundary is, you need to confirm it before making any decisions based on that information. They're trying to make a sale, and truth isn't a high priority. It probably isn't blatant fraud, as much as they'll take anybody's word for anything if it makes the property more attractive, and won't look too close at details.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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Never trust a realtor. If you walk a property, and they tell you where the boundary is, you need to confirm it before making any decisions based on that information. They're trying to make a sale, and truth isn't a high priority. It probably isn't blatant fraud, as much as they'll take anybody's word for anything if it makes the property more attractive, and won't look too close at details.
Yeah hindsight is always 20/20 but thankfully we were able to cancel the contract based on the outright deceitfulness of the listing agent. His agency was supposedly appalled by how misleading he was being but who knows they are probably just saying that to save face.
Anyway, we definitely learned our lesson here and will do our own due diligence from this point forward as we continue to look for a home. The school of hard knocks is always the best way to learn life lessons and we got knocked pretty hard by this one.
 
Feb 4, 2009
34,532
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Well it looks like the sale fell through. Yesterday afternoon we met with our realtor and inspector to go over the house. While we were waiting for the realtor to show up I struck up a conversation with a man who pulled onto the side lot. After talking to him and doing a little research it turns out the listing agent and the seller were both lying about the size of the lot. It's only on a half acre not a full acre like the MLS sheet, listing agent and seller said when we asked them directly. So after careful consideration my wife and I decided it wasn't for us.
I want to thank everyone for your suggestions on smoke remediation they were appreciated.

If you want a new realtor, message me. I can find you a good one

Never trust a realtor. If you walk a property, and they tell you where the boundary is, you need to confirm it before making any decisions based on that information. They're trying to make a sale, and truth isn't a high priority. It probably isn't blatant fraud, as much as they'll take anybody's word for anything if it makes the property more attractive, and won't look too close at details.

BS over generalization, competent realtors check public records and don't "tell" you where the property line is because we are not surveyors.
I will send people maps from the GIS surveys, those are pretty simple to understand in my State. When I do send them I advise they are only for reference, anything precise must go thru a surveyor.

Edit: You guys have to pay for your GIS data? That's weird to me, however a good realtor would pay or at minimum get the public records to verify the plot.
 
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lxskllr

No Lifer
Nov 30, 2004
57,390
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Edit: You guys have to pay for your GIS data? That's weird to me, however a good realtor would pay or at minimum get the public records to verify the plot.
I don't think so, but I'm not super familiar with what goes on in the office. I know we have/used to have accounts for some things, but the counties I'm familiar with have gis data available for download. I've played with it a bit in gis software, but it confuses me, and I haven't spent much time with it. Querying the databases is a mystery to me. No one in our office knows how to use the data. They just download images and cad data, so I can't ask anyone.

I think it would be super useful to have local access to the full datasets, but I'm the one that would have to make that happen, and I have to guess what would be useful. The boss is a spaz, and the draftsman's stupid, so I can't get good information from them. I'm usually busy with other things, so that's all extra stuff when I can find the time; on top of all the other extras I have sitting in the background...

I suspect access varies by state/county with regards to payment. Personally, I think digital access should be free. That was paid for with taxes/fees, and only requires minor maintenance to keep it going, which they need to do for their own use anyway. They also need to get rid of ADC map references. There's no reason they should even exist anymore, and it makes everything an expensive pita supplying the references. Lat/Long is plenty sufficient to find a parcel, especially when you can buy a $50 android with maps for anywhere in the world instead of paying $50 for a stupid county atlas. My cynical side says it's corruption that keeps the ADC requirement, but it could simply be governmental incompetence. Neither option makes anyone aside from the ADC CEO look good though...

Oh, and my neighbor cut down my bushes cause the realtor told him they were on his property. Not the first time I've seen that happen...
 

paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
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www.the-teh.com
I rent houses and keep them all smoke free. On occasion a tenant will start smoking in one of my houses. Obviously they will lose their security deposit. To remove a heavy smoke last time, I had to replace all the carpet and pad, paint the entire interior, clean the duct work, and then even had to replace some insulation in the attic. His security deposit did not cover all this work. Yes, I tried spraying with Febreeze, PineSol and other chemicals only to have the smoke come back in a day or two. Companies claimed they could steam the carpets and pad and get the smoke out, but not one worked. I now check much better for smokers in my houses and give notice if they start smoking. I cannot charge a high enough deposit (and rent the house) that would cover the damage from smoking. I'll probably sue the guy for the remaining damage, but unlikely I'll get anything.

Those over the counter chemicals aren't going to do anything. Did the carpet cleaners use a deodorizer? Something like X-cide is effective against smoke removal: http://www.proschoice.com/x-cide-for-smoke.html

Foggers work great in open, unoccupied rooms: http://www.jondon.com/big-d-odor-control-fogger.html

Ozone also works great, but it's dangerous to be around and requires multiple passes depending on the odor levels.

BTW, bleach can be effective, but the odor it produces is probably going to kill you too :)
 
Feb 4, 2009
34,532
15,754
136
I don't think so, but I'm not super familiar with what goes on in the office. I know we have/used to have accounts for some things, but the counties I'm familiar with have gis data available for download. I've played with it a bit in gis software, but it confuses me, and I haven't spent much time with it. Querying the databases is a mystery to me. No one in our office knows how to use the data. They just download images and cad data, so I can't ask anyone.

I think it would be super useful to have local access to the full datasets, but I'm the one that would have to make that happen, and I have to guess what would be useful. The boss is a spaz, and the draftsman's stupid, so I can't get good information from them. I'm usually busy with other things, so that's all extra stuff when I can find the time; on top of all the other extras I have sitting in the background...

I suspect access varies by state/county with regards to payment. Personally, I think digital access should be free. That was paid for with taxes/fees, and only requires minor maintenance to keep it going, which they need to do for their own use anyway. They also need to get rid of ADC map references. There's no reason they should even exist anymore, and it makes everything an expensive pita supplying the references. Lat/Long is plenty sufficient to find a parcel, especially when you can buy a $50 android with maps for anywhere in the world instead of paying $50 for a stupid county atlas. My cynical side says it's corruption that keeps the ADC requirement, but it could simply be governmental incompetence. Neither option makes anyone aside from the ADC CEO look good though...

Oh, and my neighbor cut down my bushes cause the realtor told him they were on his property. Not the first time I've seen that happen...


Check out Worcester, MA gis data, free, fairly simple to use and I think it shows utility & sewer lines. I’ve yet to see one on MA that isn’t free to look at. Probably has to do with the tax rate differential.
MA was one of the last states to put them in digital, I’ve been told that as a reassure of that the maps are very accurate and the sites use all the best practice stuff. That was from a surveyor.
 

hardhat

Senior member
Dec 4, 2011
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We use TSP for smoke remediation on all painted walls before repainting, and replace the carpet/pad if the first cleaning doesn't do enough. TSP works great, though it is a lot of work to apply to ceilings.
 
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