1. Assess the magnitude of your project
This begins with some basic volumetric equations.
How many square feet of “stuff” is in the house, including all the furniture, everything in closets and drawers, and all of the boxes in the attic, basement and garage?
It takes between 0.8 and 1.5 man-hours per cubic yard of material to complete a house clean out..
Consider this example: If the house left in an estate has 3,000 square feet total, and the average height of all the stuff (furniture, boxes, etc.) is about 2 feet, then you are working with 6,000 cubic feet of material.
There are 27 cubic feet per cubic yard. Do that math and you are left with just over 222 cubic yards.
That means that going through everything, removing it from the estate and selling or distributing it properly could easily take more than 200 man hours and possibly more.
The more sorting and cleaning that needs to be done the longer it’s going to take.
Too often, DIY estate managers seriously underestimate the amount of work that goes into a house cleanout.
When that happens, the project can drag on for months or even years.
2. Define success
What’s your endgame?
Are you cleaning out the house to sell?
Then you need to empty it out as quickly as possible without spending much time on evaluating the contents.
The sooner you can get the house cleaned out and on the market, the lower the overall cost of carrying the property will be.
Start by determining what’s realistic in terms of delivering the man-hours necessary to complete the project.
Or, is your priority to maximize the value of the house’s contents?
If so, that could take a lot longer because to get the best price, you’ll have to sell items individually.
For example, if there are valuable antiques, you’ll want to find the best market for each. Of course, that extra time will increase your carrying costs for the house, so you need to factor that in when determining the net return.
Sometimes hiring a Content Packout service is more cost effective than doing it yourself.
3. Conduct a complete house inventory
Every item should be assigned to one of four categories:
- Things going to family members
- Things to keep yourself
- Things to donate
- Things to sell.
Then you have to think through the logistics of getting everything where it’s supposed to go.
If Cousin Tom is supposed to get the living room furniture, then he should come pick it up (at no charge to the estate) or pay for its delivery.
If the symphony is going to get the antique violins, then they should arrange for pickup.
When it’s necessary to remove contents, we leverage our proven process for inventorying, packing and safely transporting your contents and furniture to a climate-controlled location.
Our on-site automated inventory process records each inventory item and tracks the status of your belongings from removal to return.