Saturday, March 10, 2012

Step 5 - Clean the House Out

It's pretty simple; if it's left behind by the previous owners, you can't use it, and no one else wants it, then you need to get it out of the house so you can move forward with the renovation.  I've learned some important lessons in this area worth mentioning that can save time, money, and some heavy lifting.  As I have said before, it's been the norm for me to find things left behind in the kitchen cabinets and in the bedroom closets.  In addition to that I've inherited quite a few appliances over the years as well so let's use a left behind refrigerator as an example.

Chances are you aren't going to want the previous owners fridge.  When I first started renovating my Pig's Ears there was no Craigslist.  In 2012 this is a great first option so consider posting an ad there and perhaps someone else will come take your appliance away.  If not you might be able to push, pull, and drag it out to the curb and someone in the salvage business will likely be glad to have it.  Now you can haul it away yourself or wrestle it into a dumpster, but those options waste time and cost you money (and may even result in some visits to the chiropractor) so avoid them if you can.

Keep the refrigerator example in mind with the other stuff left behind as well.  If you place metal or aluminum out next to the street, it'll walk away on it's own because people who salvage it will be glad you didn't put it in the dumpster and enthusiastically remove it.  Same with other things that may hold little value, but be too good to toss in your rented metal trash box.  Remember: Your trash may be someone else's treasure.  If you can donate it, that's better than throwing it in your dumpster because you need that space for serious trash and construction debris.  In the end, you pay by the ton when the dumpster folks pick up their loaded container and dump it at the landfill for you so don't pay them to take it away if you can get it off your property easier and for less cost. 

Rules, laws, and regulations regarding construction/renovation debris out at the street vary from town to town.  There's a good chance the local sanitation crew will make it disappear if you drop it where the trash is picked up.  If you're paying for sanitation services through your tax payments, you might as well get your money's worth and let someone else haul off the things from inside the house when you can.  It may only be a few dollars, but that money adds up over the course of a long renovation and you'll want those dollars at the end of the job for finishes you'll be able to see and touch.

Also, don't give much thought to what the people next door might think about you're littering the street with the junk from inside the house.  Neighbors became outspoken and tougher to deal with on this issue when the real estate market was white hot, but now (like it was a decade ago) they'll be glad you're investing in their neighborhood and making things better and more than likely they won't mind the stuff sitting out next to the sidewalk for a few days.  Keep in mind that you're making the neighborhood better and helping their property values climb back up. 

Finally, Step 5 is when I pull out the carpet.  Carpet traps moisture and odors in the house and you want both of those gone.  In addition, you want to get a more solid handle on what's under any floor coverings.  You'll be tired after cleaning the house out, but if you're renovating an older home there's a possibility you'll discover flooring worth salvaging.  If you find some hardwood flooring or antique ceramic tile it will energize you and fill you with added excitement as you prepare for Step 6 - Sketch Out the Floor Plan. 

Before with light pouring in the charred hole in the roof.

After the Clean Up. 

After the Renovation - Same view.

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