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What to Prepare for if You’re Buying a Chain Smoker’s House

While the property's price may be cheaper than others in the market, bear in mind that you would have to do some major work on your new home, such as cleaning every surface (yes, the ceilings too!) as well as repainting with a sealing primer.

Picture this: You’ve been looking for a home that’s within your budget and at a reasonable size, but all the properties in your preferred location are way out of reach.

Suddenly, you see the "golden listing", the right place – a unit that suits your budget and it’s exactly at the area where you want it to be. Jackpot!

But without being able to view the property in person, you might not know its real condition. Virtual tours of the property almosttt give you the feeling that you're right there, but nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes.

Sometimes, pictures are for illustration purposes and don’t fully reveal the state of the unit. Why then, is the property so cheap? There are several reasons that would allow it to be so affordable:

  1. It’s haunted and/or something very, VERY bad has happened there before.

  2. It isn't in good condition anymore (safety-wise, bad management, poor workmanship, etc).

  3. It used to belong to a heavy chain smoker.

While the first two points are common enough, and many forums are already filled with 'interesting' tales, the third point may seem a bit odd.

Well, not really, if you want to ensure you don't end up burning a hole in your pockets and lungs (pun intended)! Read on to find out whether you should be considering this type of property or not.

How Does A Smoker’s House Affect Its Resale Value?


One study found that smoking in a home can reduce its resale value by up to 29%. Now, although disclosure of whether it’s a smoker or non-smoker property is not compulsory, it’s an enormous and important factor in terms of health and costs.

The unpleasantly strong odour doesn’t just linger in the air, and slowly disappear once you open all the doors and windows.

The third-hand smoke will settle onto any surface in the house – curtains, carpets, walls, floors, ceilings (the worst!). Even light bulbs, fan blades, and window/door frames won't be spared.

It doesn't matter if you can’t detect it immediately, and all you smell is lavender or citrus; the smoke residue and stains will still be around and cause major health issues, including asthma and lung cancer.

8 Ways To Get Smoke Odours And Stains Out Of A Home

As the new owner of the property (assuming you decided to go ahead with the purchase), you'd need to go to great lengths to get the odour and stains out, which can cost a bomb.

That includes major deep-cleaning and repainting, replacing tiles and frames, tossing out all the furniture, etc. Here are just some of the more common steps to take:

1) Keep the air circulating


Our mothers weren’t joking when they told us to go out and get some fresh air! Cracking open the windows gets the air moving and will reduce stuffiness, clearing as much of the odour as possible.

Switching on the fans will also help circulate the old air for new, but make sure the fan blades and frames are dust-free and clean, as they might retain remnants of smoke in the form of dust.

2) Wash and scrub the walls and ceilings

The walls and ceilings are one of the worst-affected areas in a smoker’s home, as the smoke will travel upwards and outwards, leaving you with horrible stains and odours seeped into the surface.

Use white vinegar to deep-scrub the walls and ceilings, and if that doesn't do the job, you might want to consider stronger cleaning agents like a commercial smoke odour eliminator – just be careful when handling something it!

3) Repaint with a sealing primer

After scrubbing until your arms are weak and hands are sore, you might not have gotten out all the odours. The solution? Repainting with a sealing primer that kills odours and blocks stains, finishing it off with a few new coats of paint.

If you don’t use a resealing primer, the smell will gradually seep back out through the paint. As for the multiple coats of paint, that’s because residual nicotine can also leach through, so you're gonna want to make sure that little dark patches don't make a sudden appearance.

4) Change the light bulbs and air-conditioners


Anything that collects dust is something that you should clean or replace. Dust is a mix of dead skin cells, pollutants in the air, fluff, soot, and more. There's absolutely no doubt that cigarette smoke will settle in the air as dust too, especially on hot surfaces.

This would require a major overhaul as everything in a house is a dust collector, but in particular, it'll be things you may not have thought of replacing like lightbulbs, air-conditioners (dust in the flaps), grilles, door frames, and window blinds.

5) Wash/change curtains, carpets, and anything made of cloth

Soft surfaces are not just excellent noise absorbers, but also for absorbing odours and smells. Although curtains, covers, sheets, and tablecloths can be tossed into the washing machine to be cleaned, it might require a few rounds (along with lots of strong detergent and hot water!).

Large carpets and rugs are impossible to fit into washing machines, so DIY the cleaning by sprinkling some baking soda and let it sit overnight, then vacuuming it up afterwards. You can repeat until you're satisfied.

6) Invest in an air filter

Most modern air-conditioners come with built-in air filters, but that might not be enough, and that’s where air humidifiers and purifiers come in handy, especially when it’s the infamous haze season!

The HEPA filters help to get rid of smoke smells and other odours by capturing the particles, harmful gases, pollutants, and allergens (all triggers for serious health issues, like asthma).

However, it’s difficult to fully clean the air if it’s constantly exposed to tobacco, which makes an outdoor designated smoking zone more ideal.


7) Consult/hire an expert

Also known as the quick and easy method, these experts will settle everything for you, and advise you on what’s best. Of course, you could take care of it yourself by cleaning and replacing what’s needed, but that would eat up days, perhaps weeks.

Properties belonging to smokers are known to carry a reduced resale value, but if the low price tag is oh-so-attractive, evaluate if you’re willing to fork out for major restoration works, or if you’d prefer to do-it-yourself (depending on the condition of the home).

8) Remove the furniture

When all else fails, removing the furniture (and everything else the old owner left behind) is the easiest and fuss-free way.

Certain items can’t be salvaged, so if you’ve exhausted yourself with all the cleaning methods in the book and none work, it’s time to take a step back and think if the effort is all worth it.

In the meantime, you can always consider purchasing some second hand furniture that's still in good condition, you might just be able to find some really good deals!

If you’re looking for a home for your family, children and/or senior citizens included, avoid units that have telltale signs of past cigarette smoke on the property as they may be more susceptible to developing health issues due to the smoke residue.

This article was contributed by PropertyGuru.

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