Full Cost Breakdown of Cleaning and Restoring a Hoarder House
Many individuals can attest to the pain, stress, and frustration of dealing with a hoarder home. A hoarding situation can be very complicated and expensive to clean up. Below, we explore the costs and problems encountered when cleaning and repairing a hoarder house.
When a Cluttered Home Becomes a Hoarder Home
Cleaning a hoarder house can be a large endeavor. Many people have no idea that they are in such a mess until it's too late. Some may even think that their homes are just cluttered. They don't realize what they are really facing.
Hoarders often live in squalor, but they do so because they feel trapped by their possessions. They feel as if they must keep everything. Their homes become filled with piles of junk, trash, and other items that take over the entire space. Oftentimes, these items are used or were once valuable, but now they're just taking up room.
When you walk into a hoarder's home, you'll find yourself surrounded by clutter. You might see things like stacks of newspapers, old furniture, broken appliances, and more. In some cases, you might also find dead animals, rotting food, and biohazards. If you try to do the cleaning on your own but you don't know what to do or how to properly clean a hoarder house, you could easily get sick or hurt.
Below, we explain the costs associated with cleaning up a hoarder's home. This includes both the cleanup costs and the repair costs. We will discuss the different types of damages caused by hoarding and the differences between clutter and hoarding.
How Much Does It Cost to Clean Up a Hoarder Home?
The cost to clean up a hoarder's home depends on many factors. These include the size of the home, the amount of damage, and the type of damage. As a general rule of thumb, we use $1 per square ft. for mostly cluttered homes. For animal hoarder homes or houses with structural damage, the cost jumps between $7 and $12 per square foot for a full cleanup.
Several factors will adjust these numbers up or down. Keep in mind that this potential budget is just to get the house back into shape. Painting and upgrades typically done on tv shows for flips would be above and beyond those numbers. Here are some factors that might affect the costs associated with cleaning up a hoarder home:
Size of the Home
The size of your home is one of the biggest determining factors of total cost to fix up. Generally, the larger the house, the more trash it can potentially hold and the more damage can be incurred. Larger homes cost more to fix, but larger houses also benefit from scale. Even thought the total cost is higher, the cost per square foot will often be lower.
Trash bills can be lower in larger quantities even if the cost per pound is the same; you often benefit from renting larger trash dumpsters and taking less trips. When hiring this type of work, there are also typically minimum costs for the crews to show up.
Amount of Damage
It goes without say that the amount of damage greatly affects the cost. How much damage does your home suffer from? Is it minor or major? Do you have structural damage? Are there any biohazardous materials?
Types of Damage
There are a few main types of damage that occur when someone has hoarding issues. These are surface damage, structural damage, and subsurface damage. There is also biohazard issues to consider. We will go into all of these in a little more detail later.
With that in mind, the average amount of money needed to clean up a hoarder's home with structural issues jumps the above mentioned numbers to the higher range of approximately $10 per square foot. That means that cleaning 100 square feet would cost around $1,000. However, this number is only accurate if you hire professionals to do the work. If you attempt to clean up on your own, you might end up spending far more than that.
What Is the Difference Between Clutter and Hoarding
Clutter is is associated with having too many items in a given area. Often, each item has a place or use but it isn't put away. Hoarding is having so much stuff that it overwhelms an area and affects everyday life. Often times there is no use or place for items when it becomes hoarded.
While both involve excess belongings, hoarding in particular is beyond cleaning up. There are more items in a given space than there is room for.
If its a task you want to take on consider reading our hoarder cleaning checklist with printable versions
The Level of Hoarding Can Dramatically Affect the Cost
The levels of hoarding can be classified based on severity. Each level represents the degree of difficulty involved in cleaning up the house.
When someone has too many items in one place, their house is cluttered. For example, a person who collects toys might have a large collection of them. A person who collects books may have hundreds of them.
Cleaning a cluttered home is pretty straight forward. You should move the items out of the way. Typical clutter is fairly harmless, but in large amounts it can be heavy and fall. Clear the items out. Most of the time, there is a place for everything already, and it just needs put away. Once you've done that, you should start cleaning.
Cluttered homes can be considered light hoarding and will sometimes turn into full blown hoarding. If you are tripping on things, it's probably just clutter. If you can't get from one room to another without climbing over something, it becomes hoarding.
In addition to typical clutter, people with hoarding problems often collect all kinds of things regardless of value. They may collect old newspapers, magazines, or even trash.
When dealing with hoarding, you must take care not to cause further damage. Items can fall, break, or get spilled onto walls and floors causing permanent damage. Unlike dealing with clutter, you will need to get rid or items hoarders have collected. There will be too many belongings and no place to put them.
Not only will there be an overly large amount of items to clean up or get rid of; there will often be damage. Some damage will be hidden and some obvious. Much of the damage won't be known until the house is emptied of all the items. This is where the costs can really start to rise.
How Damage Can Affect Cleanup Costs on Hoarder Houses
As mentioned earlier, damage costs add up quick. Different types of damage will greatly affect not only the cost, but how long it might take to fix up the house. There are four types of damage that you can encounter when cleaning up a hoarder's home. These include surface damage, structural damage, and biohazards.
This type of damage occurs when you accidentally knock over or otherwise damage something on the ground. This includes furniture, shelves, or any other item that isn't attached to the wall. Surface damage is light and often can be cleaned up with minor expenses, cleaners, carpet replacement, or new paint.
This will require more work and often requires replacing wood subfloors, drywall, tile, or other hard surfaces. This also might include cabinets.
This type of damage happens when you destroy the structure of the building itself. Structural damage is much more costly than surface and subsurface damage. If a house has been left too long, subsurface damage turns to structural. This can include issues such as the supports behind the drywall rotting, the floor joists rotting, window frames breaking, or roofs falling apart. Anything that is underneath what you can see beyond one layer is structural damage.
This type of damage is dangerous. Biohazards occur when you expose people or animals to harmful substances. Examples of biohazards include mold, asbestos, lead paint, and radon gas. With this type of damage, look into getting help from professionals. Some jurisdictions require professionals for biohazards, and you should consider it regardless.
What to Keep and What to Trash
Trash refers to everything that's not useful. Trash includes broken items, empty cans, bottles, wrappers, papers, and more. You might be able to keep clothing, books, toys, tools, etc. It's important to know the difference between trash and not trash because you don't want to waste time cleaning up items that aren't trash. What constitutes trash varies from person to person. Some people only have a few pieces of trash while others have hundreds of items.
If you have no use for it, then it is likely garbage at this point. Trying to keep things is what got the house into this situation in the first place. You will have to get used to throwing things out. If you have issues throwing things away, there are other ways to get rid of items that might do some good. Consider salvage and donations.
Salvage Items to Sell and Recoup Some of Your Costs
Selling things that are not trash is a great way to make extra money. You can sell these items at yard sales, flea markets, online auction sites, consignment stores, thrift shops, and more. Some of the most popular items to sell are old clothes, shoes, jewelry, electronics, books, toys, kitchen appliances, etc. Other things that are good to sell include antiques, collectibles, and artwork.
Donate Items That Can’t Be Sold (Or Donate Everything)
When you donate items to charity, they will give you back a tax receipt. You can use the receipts to claim deductions on your taxes.
When you donate items to a thrift store, they won't give you back a receipt but you can get cash instead. When donating items to a thrift shop, you can usually expect to receive $1-$3 per item. When donating items directly to charity, you can expect to receive about half as much.
For example, if you donated 10 items to thrift, you would receive $10. If you donated those same 10 items to a charity, you would receive $5.
Odors Can Be Difficult to Remove
One of the most challenging aspects of cleaning up a hoarder's home is removing odors. Odors can come from many different sources including urine, feces, vomit, smoke, rotting food, decaying plants, dead animals, and more. If you're dealing with an odor problem, you'll need to do some research into how to remove the smell.
Research shows that baking soda mixed with water works well for removing smells. Another option is using a deodorizer spray. However, this method may leave behind residue. You can also buy a carbon filter system. This is a device that removes odors by trapping them inside the unit.
Another option is to install air ducts. These work by pulling fresh air through the house. They help eliminate odors by replacing stale air with clean air. In addition, you can try installing ventilation fans. Ventilation fans pull air through the house and replace it with fresh air.
These methods all require maintenance, so you'll need to keep track of when you change filters or add new ones.
In Conclusion: Costs of Cleaning Up a Hoarder Home
Spend some time to figure out your budget and the best choice to make when it comes to potentially cleaning up your hoarder home. If your goal was to sell the hoarder home, knowing these costs can help you make the decision on whether you clean and fix the house to maximize value or sell the house without the hassle. Whether you want to fix the house and sell it, keep it, or sell as is, KDS can guide you through the process if you give them a call.