1) Plan ahead
Planning the time needed to perform the house clearance will ensure everything else goes smoothly. A good rule of thumb for two people undertaking a house clearance is to allow 1/2 day for each room. This might seem a lot but, like most things in life, giving yourself enough time to do a job goes a long way to taking away all the stress that comes with it.
2) Use the traffic light system
Once you’ve allocated some time in your diary for the house clearance, the next stage is to go through everything to decide which items you and your family wish to keep, sell or donate, or bin. You can use a traffic light sticker system to do this.
Try to be as ruthless as possible – only use the red stickers for items you will definitely use and remember that most things these days can be bought new in Tesco for less than the price of a pizza!
3) Quantify volumes
Well done – that’s the hardest bit done. Now you need an idea of the volume of all your stuff. An easy reference point is the standard builder’s skip, the most common skip you see in residential streets. Builders’ skips measure 6 or 8 cubic yards – so take the average of 7 cubic yards (5 cubic metres) and use this as your benchmark as you walk around each room. Walk around each room and make a note of how much of a builder’s skip each sticker category would fill. Once you’ve done this, add it all up and get a total volume estimate for each category.
4) Arrange for the house to be cleared
Armed with your volume estimate, you’re now ready to clear the house!
Red = keep
Unless you want to do it yourself, you’ll need a specialist removal firm to move things from A to B. Contact The British Association of Removers
Amber = sell/donate
There are a myriad of ways to get rid of decent quality items you don’t want. eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle are all excellent channels but remember that they do require meeting people who you’ve never met before who are not from a professional organisation. If you do use them, make sure you’re not alone when the person comes to collect.
Other options are local charity shops and social enterprises. Note that any upholstered furniture must have a fire-safety certificate or they won’t be able to take it. The Furniture Reuse Network is a UK wide network of social enterprises that aim to maximise furniture reuse.
Green = get rid of
There are four basic options when it comes to disposing of unwanted items from a house clearance:
a) Cram it all into the boot of your car or hire a van to take it to the local tip
b) Call your local council to arrange a bulky waste collection. This should be quite cheap but the downsides are that it will typically take at least a couple of weeks to arrange, will be limited to a maximum number of items (and not real rubbish), and all of the stuff needs to be put outside the property (as they don’t collect from inside).
c) Hire a skip. Skips are charged at a flat rate and require a skip permit if parked on the road. You need to the loading all yourself. Prices vary widely dependent on where you are in the UK – but £170 (incl VAT) for a 6 cubic yard skip is probably a fair benchmark. In addition, you will need to pay for a skip permit (if the skip has to be parked on the road) and, depending on the street, a parking bay suspension. Googling ‘skip hire [your region]’ is the easiest way to find a local skip hire company.
d) Use a professional house clearance and junk removal company. House clearance rates are similar to hire a skip without the cost of a permit. They charge according to the amount of junk cleared – so you don’t need to guess the exact volume perfectly- and their rates include all loading and sweep-up. They turn up in two hour arrival windows and reuse and recycle wherever possible, including passing on reusable items to Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation.
5) And finally, don’t forget…
Identity theft is a growing problem in the UK. Consider using a shredder to destroy confidential documents but be careful not to throw out documents you might later need. If you are moving around a lot of items in a house that have been undisturbed for some time you are likely to dislodge a large amount of dust so open plenty of windows before you start and consider wearing a dust mask. Also, take extra care when lifting heavy items.
If you’ve managed to deal with all that, you definitely deserve a cup of tea and a sit down. Let’s hope you haven’t cleared a comfy armchair and the kettle in the process!