How to Manage the Waste of a Major Home Remodel

There are dozens and dozens of potential pitfalls out there, lurking to turn your otherwise sensible DIY project into a DIY disaster. Blown budgets and interminable construction woes can frequently be traced back to well-intentioned people with some skills who nevertheless bit off more than they can chew. There is also another set of stories about people who had the necessary construction skills to pull their remodel off but, unfortunately, overlooked a couple crucial design details and thus ended up with some kind of cockeyed result with their remodel. But then there’s another type of project in which the plucky DIYer gets “all the hard parts right” but then fail to account for the mess that’s inevitably created with a full-scale bathroom, kitchen, or basement remodel. Don’t let this oversight ruin your project. Here’s how you can be sure to deal with the dust, debris, and general waste created by your remodel.


Step 1: Protect your windows. There are several different ways to protect your windows during construction and remodeling projects. Whether you use tape and plastic covering or a protective film, you need something to ensure the glass isn’t scratched or stained by paint, drywall, stucco, and/or adhesives. One sure way to go over budget and overtime on your remodel? Add an unplanned window replacement. Or else feel disappointed by that unsightly blemish on the glass or window frame.


Step 2: Construct temporary barriers. If you’re going to knock down a wall or do other extensive renovation, it’s near impossible to estimate the amount of dust that will be created or how quickly this dust will start to infiltrate the rest of the home. Sealed rooms, including vents, can help maintain indoor air quality in other parts of the home during the renovation. Construction tape and plastic rolls are readily available. Some room sealing kits and barrier methods will also include a zip door for relatively easy coming and going.


Step 3: Create pathways and protect floors. The first step in protecting floors during renovation is manage and confine the dust and debris to specific areas. Next, it’s important to implement a clean-as-you-go strategy. We think of daily floor cleaning while remodeling like flossing our teeth. You don’t want that dust and grime to settle, latch on, and fester within the cracks of your floorboards. Often, the real trick is to devote the time to creating an effective “demolition lane”—often a path of plastic floor lining—in which you can remove larger waste items and bags of trash without leaving traces throughout the rest of the home.


Step 4: Rent a dumpster. More than just dust, it’s hard to accurately gauge how much large item waste will be created and need to be disposed of. The idea that you’ll be able to slowly feed the waste materials into the usual trash can over a number of weeks is sheer folly—both in terms of the amount and types of materials that you’ll need to throw away. Whether it’s putting a home on the market, renovations done by professional contractors, or major DIY remodels, you can find neighbors who are doing their own remodeling projects by keeping an eye out for rolloff dumpsters in your neighborhood.


Step 5: Get the right equipment for cleanup. It’s all too easy to assume that the final cleanup for a home remodel is just a more intense version of regular house cleaning. Specifically, you will probably need a specially-designed vacuum and hose extension to safely clean up the waste from a remodel. Glass and fine dust particles are at the top of the list of things you shouldn’t vacuum. After all the hard work you’ve put in and the cost savings achieved, you might want to hire a professional house cleaning service. Just make sure they have the right experience and cleaning equipment for the job.

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