Clean & Clear
10,000 pounds. 5 tons. That’s the weight of all of the possessions in the average four-bedroom house that has been lived in for 30 years or more. We all accumulate stuff and find ways to put it in closets, basements, and attics. It’s packed into garages and stuffed up in the rafters. Often there is also a backyard shed full of still more possessions.
Sure, there are some treasures in there. Those are given to family members or donated. We also will sell those items for you. That may get you down to 9,000 pounds. There may be some items with market value, but a lot of it is old, broken, or obsolete. In many cases it’s dusty, grimy, or tarnished. And there may be mice and other critters living in there.
When homes are sold to a new owner, they need to be emptied. The industry terms for this are a cleanout or a trash out. It means that we come to the house and remove all the contents so that the new owner can start afresh with their own decorating and all the stuff they had in their previous home.
- Clean-outs are most efficiently accomplished when our crews simply throw everything out.
- Most people don’t want to do that. They’d like to go through the house, looking for items that may be of special value to the family for sentimental reasons, or maybe even that hidden treasure that you see on Antique Road Show. In those circumstances we conduct a Discovery phase before the clean-out.
- For a variety of reasons, most people have some special items that require special treatment, and it’s often hard to keep track of it once the jobs start. Either it’s going to the new place, being given to a grandchild, or whatever. For those items, we need clear identification of what is to be set aside, with an attention-grabbing label or ribbon on the item.Unfortunately, people often forget to do this, and later ask us to find an item that was unlabeled. Often this is often not possible, but we try. All this adds to the cost.
- There are also multiple definitions of what “everything in the house” means. For some, leaving household cleaning products, soap and toilet paper is expected. Other times, those items are to also be removed. We should have discussions about whether to keep or leave window coverings.
- For items that can’t be sold, we try to give items to charities wherever possible, but there is so much used furniture out there, that they are getting picky too. For example, charities generally won’t take furniture they consider unmarketable, like a dresser with missing nobs or a table with a bad scratch. For smaller items, they often require that it all be bagged or boxed up and moved to the edge of the garage. It requires work to give things to charity.
- The cleaning crews come in at the end to finish the job. We break out the costs of cleaning crews from clean-outs -- oftentimes the owner doesn’t feel they need it, or they may want to do it themselves. Our cleaning crews scour the cabinets and appliances. They scrub the toilets, sweep the hardwood, vacuum the carpets, wash off the walls, and cart out the remaining small trash items. When they’re done the house is clean and smelling fresh.
- Hoarder houses. People living alone for longer periods of time often compulsively acquire assets of limited value. We’ve seen homes will collections of old cereal boxes and a dozen sewing machines. In some cases, there is so much stuff, we have to make a path to get through the rooms.
- Homes that have been vacant for more than a few months almost always have animals living in them, as well as the remains of the dead ones. These critters pose a variety of health risks requiring special handling.
- Heavy items including pianos, old CRT televisions, large furniture pieces can be exceedingly difficult to remove. We have also dealt with exceptionally large furniture pieces where the room was actually built around the piece, and they physically cannot be removed without being cut up.
- Difficult access carries a surcharge. If we can’t pull our truck up to the house and/or we must negotiate large items through winding staircases, the job will take longer.
- Workshops generate large amounts of dust and grime that accumulates throughout the house and in the duct work. The cleaning challenge is not just about the workshop. Every room will take more time to clean.
- Mold grows in dark, moist areas. It’s a health risk that new owners and building inspectors want to be addressed. We have special procedures for removing the mold with product designed for that purpose and then apply an anti-bacterial paint to prevent future growth. Our crews require masks and special clothing to work in that space.
As you can now see, it’s an involved process. Many people start out thinking they can do a cleanout on their own and are surprised at how much effort it takes to actually complete the task. That’s why you hire us. We make the problems go away fast.