Author: Gary Kolek
Luckily, very few people are tasked with the unfortunate responsibility of cleaning up a hoarders home. Because it is an uncommon event, there are very few resources out there. Most of the time, I get involved following an internet search that leads people in the Kansas City region to the Bio-One KC hoarding website, www.kchoarding.com. Once the initial call is made, whether it be by a friend, family member, property owner, or the hoarder themselves, one of their first questions to me is always, “I'm not sure where to begin. How does this process work?”
The first thing I request from my clients is complete honesty about the situation. The more honest you are with me about the problem, the more honest I can be with you about the solution. Most of the hoarders I speak with are very embarrassed about their situation and haven't allowed anyone in their home for years. I understand. There isn't much I haven't seen, smelled, touched, and cleaned. But if my crew starts working in piles of clutter and all of a sudden come across an uncapped syringe and we learn the client is diabetic and there are hundreds of them throughout the home, we are now dealing with a serious safety hazard that we should have been made aware of before we started.
During the conversation, the topic of cost always comes up, and understandably so. I try to explain that it is impossible to give an accurate quote over the phone because everyone has a different idea of what is “really bad” and what's “not too bad.” I've been to homes that were described to me as having “a few bags of trash lying around” that literally had piles of garbage up to my waist throughout the entire home, and another that was described as “horrendous,” but turned out to be refreshingly clutter free (to my standards at least!). At Bio-One KC, although no job is too big or too small, we are typically dealing significant problems that require hours of hard work by dedicated and skilled technicians.
Once we are able to agree on a date and time for me to come over and view the property (my bids are always 100% free), all I'll need is maybe 30 minutes to look around and, with your permission, take some photos. The reason I take photos is so I can review them once I get back to my office. They are never shared with anyone unless I have your permission after the job is done. While speaking with you on location, I'll be able to get a better understanding of what exactly you're looking to accomplish, and I'll be able to better explain what I feel should and shouldn't be done, and what you can expect throughout the process. Once I have seen the property in person and have a better understanding of the task at hand, I can go back to my office, look over the photos to refresh my memory, then figure out all of the details, crunch some numbers, and get you a detailed job proposal and cost estimate in writing.
There are many factors that go into bidding a hoarding clean-up job. What is the size of the home? How many floors does it have, and is there a basement or a garage and/or shed? Just how much clutter is there and how many dumpsters will be needed? Are there bio-hazards such as feces, urine, or blood inside the home? Did the hoarder have any diseases such as MRSA, C-Diff, or HIV? How many of my crew members will I need and how long will it take us to finish the job? Is there water damage or mold? Are there mice, roaches, or any other creatures in the home? All of these questions, and many more, need to be considered when I give an estimate.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about the hoarding clean-up process. I also hope it has alleviated some of your concerns. I hear time and time again from clients that have tried to clean up a property themselves, only to barely scratch the surface, become quickly overwhelmed, and realize that it would literally take them months, if not years, to finish the job. I take great pride in making the process as easy and stress free for my clients, usually finishing the job in less than week, with unbelievable results.
If you have any situation you would like to discuss with me, whether it be about hoarding or any other bio-hazard clean-up situation, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Help first, business second.