How to clean a hoarder house?

15 Replies

Hi all! This is my first non introductory post. 

I've been visiting properties today and I went into one where the owner mentioned that the person who lived there was a "bit of a hoarder". Well the result was interesting to say the least.

I've never seen anything like it before. Trash was almost a foot deep everywhere, it REEKED of pet urine, rotting food, several full litter boxes, and a dining room literally covered in some sort of... feces... 

I couldn't really get in to estimate repairs and the owner lives out of state and doesn't know what to do with the place. How do I get something like that cleaned? I don't even know where to start!


FyI its probably going to be alot more than just "clean". Most of the hoarder house example you see here needs an entire gut! As the flooring, sheet rock everything stinks. So make sure when you are doing the estimate you basically are doing an entire new interior, down to subfloores.

Thanks @Elizabeth Colegrove , yeah right now I'm estimating about $80000 to rehab but I'd like the seller to get it to the point where I can send contractors/inspectors in. 

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@Tim Shin  

Most people will tell you that if the seller gets it to that point the "deal" isn't there. The key is to deal with the part that no one wants to deal with. If they are willing to deal with it than you discount is gone.

For example, we buy houses that have small warts, (short sales, have a crack, etc). We have bought many houses because the previous buyer has walked because the seller won't fix it. Therefore I would estimate a HUGE margin to cover those and pay you to deal with it. If you force the seller to do the work, I would prepare yourself for a seller that tries to force the deal to stop. When the hard part is done.

@Tim Shin  

Honestly I have no idea. I know the bins aren't that expense the key is labor. So the question is how much can you pay labor to clean out a house like that.

We bought a house owned by a single dude who rented to his 3 buddies. It was by no means what you described but it wasn't clean. We got it 15k under value for $250 work of cleaning to our cleaning lady. 

Hopefully people who have done these can give you an estimate but honestly it will be very area dependent.

If this was my deal. I would do a couple of things

*I would call around and price the big trash containers. That will let you know how much you will pay to dispose of the "crap".

*I would call around and get 3 bids from people to dispose of all the stuff in the house. Once you have bids and/or labor to get rid of the stuff. You will have a better idea of how much it will cost.

@Tim Shin Tim I did a hoarder house a few years age. It took 7 - 30yd dumpsters at $450 ea. . We took it down to the studs which we didn't expect. After we did that we had to bring everything else up to code. Just make sure you fluff your repair cost for the worst

Make an offer based on a total gut and clean up .  Look at worst case , I bought one 2 hears ago , I made an offer based on the lot value , house was zero .  Once I cleaned it up we figured  out it was worth fixing .  Came out good on that one

Tim,  as far as costs,  I think you are focusing on the wrong thing. 

Contractors can't get in to estimate until it's cleaned out: Seller probably wants to sell as-is, so you will need to estimate high and hope for the best. 

How much does it cost to take that house down to the studs and build it back up? 

You can probably conservatively estimate that from County data,  walking around outside,  and Google maps. If you can't, this project probably isn't for you. 

Now to try to answer your question: How big is the house? How full? Guess how many dumpsters you will need. For a high super-conservative estimate go square footage times ceiling height divided by 27(to convert cubic feet to cubic yards) thats the max amount of dumpster you  could need, then try to estimate the amount of many hours it will take multiplied by the labor rate you are comfortable with. 

For a clean-out like that,  I'd pay Craigslist guys 10/hr cash daily and let them know they can come back tomorrow if they do a good job. 

Or find a Craigslist guy advertising clean-outs. I found a guy one time that owned a dump truck and a dump trailer that would quote the full clean-out (including haul-away) 

Make sure to get extra guys cuz half will walk after they have enough to buy whatever fix they need. 

In general, you won't be able to get good estimates, so estimate conservative and hope for the best. 

Thanks for the tips! Yeah my venture partner who is a rehabber estimated for that 1918 sqft house we'd basically have to redo the entire house for about $70k and we added in $10k as a buffer. We figured we may need about 3 dumpsters for the trash alone. 

It's a probate lead so the seller just wants to figure out what he can do to get the most value. We suggested we take over the mortgage and payments, and split profits of wholesale or rehab with him. I think rehab would probably be better for all parties win-win-win situation.

@Michael Herr  do you have to count day workers as employees or contractors? How does that work? That's definitely a great tip on getting EXTRA workers in case some walk! I never would have thought of that.

@Tim Shin   Gotta say the standard,  I'm not a tax attorney,  and local rules/regs can be different. Also Im going off of memory here,   but I hire them as contractors paid hourly.  My accountant said no 1099 needed untill $600 paid per person per year.

Alright, well thanks for the tip! Waiting on a response from the executor on what he'd like to do. Started requesting bids. Maybe I'll head over to the marketplace.

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Hey there, 

You should get a dumpster there and empty the place out. Then get at least 3 contractors in there to get quotes on repair. Listen to see what it is they see to be repaired. If it is mainly the floors I would suggest getting a flooring subcontractor in there to quote you a price for repairs.



It's more labor intensive than anything else.

I bought a house that REEKED of dog urine in every room , and also had  trash bags from floor to ceiling and hundresd of fly traps totally covered  with flies.

 Costs $3,ooo for dumpsters and hundreds of dollars spent on distilled vinegar water which i used for weeks in every room till it that was all i could smell. 

with windows open in a short time it smelld brand new! 

BTW-got a great deal because no one wanted to even enter the place!