On television shows that deal with compulsive hoarding, there is usually a junk removal service present to help with decluttering the hoarder’s home. There may be a lead organizer along with a team of around 10 people to help haul out items for organizing, throwing out trash, and then possibly a separate team to clean the home.
While this seems great on television, it may not be realistic for the many people who aren’t afforded the benefit of a psychologist, organizer, and junk removal workers. The fact is, all these items have a serious cost, and the benefits must be measured before doing a quick search on the internet or making a phone call.
If the assistance of choice is junk removal, who will be paying for the service? On some occasions the hoarders’ lifestyle has caused them to run into serious debt and if they have not cut off all support, family members may not be able to afford this out of their own pocket either. Everyone involved in the support of the case will need to come up with a financial plan, such as relying on credit or selling some of the hoarders’ items, to be able to pay for the service.
Pricing junk removal is not an easy, one-size-fits-all ordeal. Some of the more considerate companies understand the plight of their clients and take things into consideration on a case by case basis. They may charge a set fee hourly, or a price for the whole job – whichever is cheaper to the client. Also, some may offer discounts to seniors on a fixed income. The companies will need to do an on-site inspection to see the scope of the job before giving an estimate. Depending on the company, some of the queries considered are:
What’s the size of the property?
What is the estimated amount of items that need to be removed?
Is there hazardous waste involved?
Are basic utilities (electricity, water) available?
Will any extra equipment be needed?
How much time will the job take?
What services are being requested (e.g. “throw out” service, sorting and storage, cleaning)?
The junk removal companies will certainly have more involved questions than these listed. It is best to get estimates from a few places and ask them to itemize their charges. By doing this, it can be determined if there are any charges involved that can be taken care of by the client and their supporters. For example, it may be cheaper to pay for certain materials or to choose to personally handle some services offered.
Using a junk removal company is not the only option, although the seriousness of the clutter is a deciding factor. For instance, if there is a lot of human or animal excrement, blood, or other hazardous waste present, those things are not safe for just anyone to handle. If this extreme is not the case, the hoarder could opt to rent a dumpster independently. Depending on company and location, this price may vary greatly. Also, the cost is based on the container size regardless of whether or not the whole thing is filled.
It is important to also keep in mind that unlike the TV shows, sorting through a hoarder’s home is a very slow and possibly drawn out process. Depending on the severity of the disorder and the hoarder’s willingness to be helped, it may take a few months or longer to get the home to an inhabitable condition. Thinking of this, a junk removal company may not be a good option if one foresees a long road ahead.
In choosing a method of cleaning up a cluttered home, be realistic about what can be handled without outside help. The cost should not be the only consideration, but also how the speed of the cleaning will affect the homeowner. If you choose to go with a junk removal company, be sure to make a choice base on the company’s care of the client. How the decluttering process is handled can determine the long term success of the hoarder over their illness.