For Chris and Jenny Nugent, it was their dream home.
The couple used their life savings to buy the $144,000 property in a quaint Indianapolis suburb and then moved in last year with their two daughters and infant son.
But soon everybody started falling ill.
“They were sick every week,” Jenny Nugent told ABC News. “They would wake up. Throw up. Have digestive issues and then by noon, 1 o’clock start to feel better.”
Their girls were missing school. Baby Mason couldn't sleep through the night. Their dog got sick, too, and had to be euthanized.
And they couldn't figure out why — although Nugent said she did notice an odd smell in the house, particularly in the kitchen.
“It smelled like a handful of change,” she told ABC News.
Then a neighbor revealed to the end-of-her-rope mother that the previous owner allegedly cooked something in the house that belongs in no kitchen: meth.
So Nugent got the home a simple meth test for $50.
Turns out the Nugent's dream house was a nightmare. Methamphetamine levels on the downstairs floor were nearly 18 times higher than what’s considered legally safe — and that included the room their infant son had slept in for the previous 10 months, ABC News said.
“I am so grateful that we were fortunate enough to have really good neighbors," Nugent told ABC News. "If it were not for them, we may have not known until one of our kids ended up in the hospital.”
While the Nugents moved into an apartment and got away from what was making them sick, their problems were far from over.
They threw away most of their belongings out of concern for contamination.
More from ABC News:
When methamphetamine is smoked or cooked inside a home, invisible molecules of the drug sink into the carpet, walls and everywhere else, experts said. The meth residue is then inhaled or ingested, even absorbed through the skin. Exposure can cause symptoms like headaches, nausea and vomiting, according to the National Institute of Health.
In the hopes of reselling the house, the Nugents hired cleaners who handle meth contamination to scour every square inch — a process insurance doesn't cover, ABC News added.
All the carpets were cut out, then the entire house was professionally vacuumed and gassed with chemicals that neutralize meth particles. But decontamination sometimes takes more than one attempt. The estimated final cost for the clean-up: about $10,000.
While the Nugents' nightmare may seem like an aberration, it's actually a much more widespread problem than one might assume.
Last year authorities discovered 11,000 meth labs in homes across the country, WRTV-TV reported, but that's only a fraction of the total.
Plus Indiana was ranked first in the U.S. for meth lab seizures last year, besting Tennessee and Missouri, ABC News added. Indiana State Police’s Meth Suppression Section told ABC News they do as many as four meth busts a day across the state.
The Nugents are suing the real estate agent, the real estate company, and the former owners of the house for breach of contract. WRTV noted the couple isn't sure if their family will ever move back in.
For now, Nugent said she doesn't feel safe entering the property without wearing protective gear.
“It feels like a death happened, to be honest,” she told ABC News.
Her advice for prospective home buyers?
“Just do the meth test,” Nugent told the network. “It’s $50. It will give you peace of mind."
This story has been updated.