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Emptying a House
Old 01-10-2013, 01:10 PM   #1
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Emptying a House

Debated on whether to start this thread, but after razor blades and dental floss, will take a chance.
This time looking for advice. Thoughts, suggestions, experiences, pitfalls, and recommendations about how to empty a house, where "stuff" has accumulated for decades. Selling, moving, storing, junking or giving away what can't/won't be used. Also... costs... hiring, renting, packing, storage, etc...
Despite moving several dozen times, we have never had to actually clear out a home, since all moves (except the very early ones) were managed and paid for by companies.

No illusions about this being easy. Will actually move only a small part of the stuff... most will have to disappear. I have read into some of the threads, cases where members have moved parents and can see the challenges.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:14 PM   #2
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First thing I would do is let your kids know what you are up to. Tell them if there is anything they want (that you're ready to part with) they better come get it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:28 PM   #3
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Make a trip to donate smaller stuff to GoodWill or similar places at least once or twice a week.

Also, every week I tried to add at least one extra trashbag full of junk that was not good enough to donate, to my trash.

Here, the Salvation Army will pick up unwanted furniture that you wish to donate.

Clean out the closets and drawers ruthlessly. It will take a while to finish, and when you do, start over and do it again. I did this several times. Remember that after the move, you can purchase what you need so you can get rid of a lot of your replaceable items.

Home Depot has much better prices on boxes than UHaul, at least here.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:32 PM   #4
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In recent years we've had to clear the houses of our parents, after they had died, so while it is not the same as you are asking, the experience was similar to when we moved from a huge 5 bedroom house to a 3 bedroom apartment. A lot of accumulated junk, and the house had to be left empty and clean.

With our own house clearing it was much easier in that the city council in Baton Rouge would remove anything placed at the end of the drive, but if it looked at all valuable then it be collected by "recyclers" who would load it onto their pickup or other vehicle and take it away to be reused or sold in a garage sale. We wanted no money for any of the stuff, and first asked friends and co-workers if they wanted anything, provided they came by and picked it up. We got rid of things like treadmill, Nordic ski machine, futon, and such stuff.

With our parents houses (in England, 2009 and 2010), they were part of the estate so we made efforts to sell some of the stuff, and much of it went to charity shops. Of the stuff that wasn't good enough for charity shops we used a free-cycle website and got rid of a lot of stuff that way. One lady even came and collected a set of Encyclopedia Britannica that had been published prior to the moon landings.

With both houses we rented a skip, which worked out great. The skip sat on the driveway for a week while we filled it up and they came and collected when we called to say it was ready to go. With FIL's house we expected to need 2 skips as we filled up the first one so quickly, but a traveling scrap merchant drove by and stopped to ask if he could take anything with metal in. He half-emptied the skip and as we continued clearing we set all wire and things with metal to one side and called him to come back for 2 more loads.

About 5 miles from FIL's house was a big recycle yard and we made multiple trips there with wood, paper, clothing (that was too shabby for charity), plastic, garden waste etc.

I don't know if this is helpful, but good luck with your house clearing, it can be hard work.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:36 PM   #5
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First thing I would do is let your kids know what you are up to. Tell them if there is anything they want (that you're ready to part with) they better come get it.
A friend of mine who was downsizing his home gave special items (that others might include in a will) to those family and friends for whom he had eventually intended them. This way, he got to present the item(s) and also explain any special history, answer any related questions, etc.

I've heard of others asking their kids to come and 'tag' items that they want. If the parents are willing to part with those now (due to a downsizing like this) the kid gets it now...otherwise the kid gets it after the parents pass away.

It's interesting to see what kids choose...often they are sentimental items that hold fond memories (a special chair, picture, artwork, christmas ornament, afghan, etc.)

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:40 PM   #6
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1-800-got-junk.

We have used them several times to just get rid of stuff we didn't want to otherwise deal with.


On our last move we had some furniture to get rid of and sold it on Craigslist, what didn't sell see above.


In the past we made over $3000 over 10 years ago selling stuff at a garage sale. I was amazed at what sold.


We did put stuff in storage while we were selling and buying house. It was about $130 a month for 10 x 10 space but I really don't recommend it except for stuff you are sure you want to keep.


We had lots of books and spent the money to replace all we could with kindle books. We went from having 12 bookcases to 2.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Debated on whether to start this thread, but after razor blades and dental floss, will take a chance.
This time looking for advice. Thoughts, suggestions, experiences, pitfalls, and recommendations about how to empty a house, where "stuff" has accumulated for decades. Selling, moving, storing, junking or giving away what can't/won't be used. Also... costs... hiring, renting, packing, storage, etc...
Despite moving several dozen times, we have never had to actually clear out a home, since all moves (except the very early ones) were managed and paid for by companies.

No illusions about this being easy. Will actually move only a small part of the stuff... most will have to disappear. I have read into some of the threads, cases where members have moved parents and can see the challenges.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
do you have any preference between giving to kids, giving to charity and getting a tax deduction, giving away, or dumping (lawfully)?
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:59 PM   #8
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Why do I envision an episode of "Hoarders"? It's not that bad, is it?

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Old 01-10-2013, 02:07 PM   #9
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Are you moving

When we moved my mother, we sold her house 'as is' and left anything that we did not want to keep there... most of the stuff was so old that we just bought new.... and I am talking furniture...


When we moved a few years back, we left a bunch of stuff in the garage that we did not want. We sold to a young single mom and said 'keep what you want and throw away the rest'.... not sure if she kept anything, but at least we tried to help....
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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Another site I have used frequently for larger items is freecycle.org

Post a picture and description, plus the nearest crossroads to your location. If it's anything anyone would want, sit back and wait for emails to start landing in your inbox.

The person to whom you 'award' the item is responsible for hauling it away.

It's a good way to recycle items that are too good for the trash, hopefully giving others the pleasure of using them some more.

One downside, there's no charity tax deduction for this.

I've used freecycle for getting rid of furniture, a portable fire pit (along with a good bit of hardwood to burn in it), an inflatable dinghy, etc.

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Old 01-10-2013, 02:13 PM   #11
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Good people here... Thank you all... Less than an hour. "Wow"!

We're a little while away from doing this, but since it will be in another state,
have no thoughts about making money on the deal. Some things, like motorcycles, bikes and golf cart should bring a few dollars, but the emotional attachments are not there for the rest, so a combination of the suggestions above will probably be the answer. Will want to make the "move" in a relatively short time... hate the idea of having dozens of people wandering around the house while we're still there. Probably one small rent a truck for the keeper stuff.

... and... darned!... tax break doesn't help when one is too poor to pay taxes...
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:41 PM   #12
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And I second the 1-800-gotjunk suggestion.

My sister and I had the uneviable task of disposing of the contents of a relative's house quickly, far from where we live.

After we donated stuff (fridge, microwave, snowblower, ladder, wheelbarrow, etc.) to the neighbors, etc., I set a next-day appointment online with these guys. They came right on time and quoted us a flat fee, which we approved. They immediately started loading their truck. I think they had 2 trucks in rotation and it took more than a day to get everything out of the house and huge garage/workshop. I forget how many truckloads they hauled away.

Basically, we would point out everything that was to go, and they'd carry it out to their truck.

Their workers were very nice and polite. (One even ran across some credit cards as they were hauling stuff out which he brought to us. The cards were long expired, but it was nice to see that someone was paying attention).

I would use them again in a heartbeat.

It's a great way to get rid of massive amounts of stuff in a short timeframe.

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Old 01-10-2013, 03:16 PM   #13
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Home Depot has much better prices on boxes than UHaul, at least here.
If you live in a major metro area you may find a store that sells nothing but boxes (there were a couple in Houston for example) With this you can get bulk quantities of any size box you want.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:16 PM   #14
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We have a small business here in town that helps older people downsize their possessions or what ever is needed. They will hold tag sales for you, or help you pack just about anything that you need help with.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:57 PM   #15
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We have a small business here in town that helps older people downsize their possessions or what ever is needed. They will hold tag sales for you, or help you pack just about anything that you need help with.
Fantastique... the idea of turning this into a franchise is exciting enough to (almost) make me come out of retirement.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:58 PM   #16
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Once I ran into an older lady who did "estate sales". Really it was just a private flea market. She knew people who would do trips to the junk yard and others who would buy a certain group of items. She also had clean up people who would do things for a reasonable hourly rate.

You might consider this as a way to get some $'s for some items of value that you and your family don't need. Perhaps a real estate agent will know of such a person in your area.
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:21 PM   #17
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Once I ran into an older lady who did "estate sales". Really it was just a private flea market. She knew people who would do trips to the junk yard and others who would buy a certain group of items. She also had clean up people who would do things for a reasonable hourly rate.

You might consider this as a way to get some $'s for some items of value that you and your family don't need. Perhaps a real estate agent will know of such a person in your area.
+1. Since we live in a neighborhood where many of the original owners are downsizing or relocating due to age, these sales happen at least once a month. I have an acquaintance in the business of running these. Generally you get a cut of the proceeds (usually 50% or less unless there are extremely valuable items) and they take care of getting rid of what doesn't sell.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:28 PM   #18
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Son used 800-gotjunk when he moved from a rental house and had a couch he didn't want to take. He paid the GJ folks $75 to take the couch (not complaining about it, he really couldn't take it with him and his weakness/strength is solving problems at the last minute). I don't know what they would charge to clean out a basement or something like that.

Salvation Army sent a truck to our place to pick up a sleeper sofa we didn't want and lots of miscellaneous items we cleared out of our kitchen a few months ago. No charge for that.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:37 PM   #19
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I bought a house in 2011 and am hoping to proactively dejunk (or more simply don't collect junk).

I have however dejunked a couple of times before getting the house. Moving from apartment to apartment it's easy to identify at item I've moved 2-4 times but haven't used, so it's time for it to go! But I found I had a hard time letting go of some items, and I also felt somewhat compelled to ensure what I got rid of was whole (sets of things all together with their accessory parts) and made it to someone who would use it instead of to the garbage.

I mostly got over it, but I had a real hard time with a couple of things. A couple of 35mm film cameras in particular and their accessories. I managed to sell one at a relative's yard sale. Said relative volunteered to take the rest to a second-hand place, and that settled my (irrational) sense of obligation to make sure the useful item would be used by someone. I later saw a couple of the cameras at her house, apparently having been playthings for the kids. It was an odd feeling, but again I got over it. I know I have no need for my 35mm cameras and almost never use my digital camera now that my phones and PCs have cameras built in. And I can afford a DSLR or other nice digital if I someday think I can take photos worthy of the thing.

Another funny experience with this emotion was when I set a full-size mattress and box springs out on the curb. The previous two weekends I had set it out no earlier than Sunday noon, and to my surprise nobody had taken it. This time I put it out Friday morning so surely somebody over the weekend would take it. I peeked out the window shortly after to see the garbage men feeding it into their truck! (Voice in my head said "but somebody could use that!") But it was silly wasting my time carting that thing to the curb and back in the first place, and it was silly to fret over whether or not it ended up garbaged.

Selling stuff or even giving stuff away via Freecycle / Craigslist takes time and effort. If you want to quickly dejunk you're probably better off giving/throwing away in bulk. Someone will be happy to take it and sell it, but don't let them waste your time by picking through everything, taking only what's valuable and leaving you with the worthless junk unless you're fine with paying a cleaning crew to take everything else to the dump.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:46 PM   #20
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Several years ago I had to get my uncles house cleaned out after he passed away. I spent my weekends going through things and getting all the paperwork together I could find. When that was done, I contacted an estate sale business and had them hold an estate sale at the house. It was a big relief and although there was little money generated they guaranteed to clean the house out 'broom clean' and also took paints and yard chemicals to a disposal site and donated all the leftover items to Good Will and another local charity. They provided the tax receipts to me for the donations. It would have cost many $100's of dollars to hire a business to come haul stuff away and the estate sale did that all and generated a small amount of $$ on top of it.

The estate sale business I used took a % of the sales and also reserved the right to bring some of their things in to sell. Each business probably has a little bit different way they conduct their sales so interviewing several is a good idea if you decide to go that way.
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