Construction Clean-Up Times

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On a typical Post-Construction cleaning job, what do you feel is a reasonable timeline to perform and complete the cleanup?

I’m sure you hate to hear “it depends” but that’s the best answer because there are so many variables to consider. Here are the major ones:

1. What’s “reasonable” to your client? In this economy (or any economy) good clients are a valuable resource and something you want to protect. Because the (general contractor) GC can’t get paid until the job is “complete” (including the final clean) he’ll always be in a rush to get you in and out. Many contracts have additional daily fess so you maybe costing him money for every day that you’re cleaning. Find out in advance what the GC’s expectations are and then you can tailor your workload, schedule and price accordingly.

2. Like in any other business, customers pay extra for “rush jobs.” While your customer may initially give you a date on which they anticipate being able to have you start, it frequently changes as do all things construction related.

The best way to mitigate against this is to be in daily contact with your client as the start date approaches so you can by ready to start the moment he says “go”. This also helps them to adjust their expectations as the start dates changes and lets you off the hook to some degree for delays in your project being finished due to delays in your ability to start. The main point here is to communicate often and clearly with your client throughout and especially prior to the start of the project

3. On construction cleanup jobs it’s especially important to make sure you submit your proposal in writing and be VERY specific about what’s included and what’s not included. Make sure to list what will happen if you have to haul away debris (that was excluded from your agreement) or wait for others to do it. This holds up your ability to do your job.

Also include man-hour costs for “re-do’s” (like when you clean an area and then the painter or cabinetry guys come back in to “touch up” something and you have to clean it again. No problem, you just want to make sure your get paid. I’ve even built in “waiting man hour costs” because if you have 10-15 cleaners waiting to get in on Day 2 of the job for example because the sub forgot the keys and they can’t get in to get started, you’re still required by law to pay your workers whether they’re working or standing around. Make sure you’ve covered yourself.

4. After you’ve taken all these factors into consideration, use your regular method of calculating how long each unit will take and that becomes your “reasonable” amount of time. Keep in mind that the more bodies you have on site the more potential “down time” you’ll have. This can eat into profits very quickly.

Just imagine; 20 guys waiting even 5 minutes just cost you over an hour and ½. Make sure you have enough supervision to run a really tight ship. One way to do this is to make sure everyone has their own supplies. “Sharing” costs you time and money and make sure you have really good communication (everybody with a walkie-talkie) on site so they can ask for help and get a response quickly vs. wandering around the site looking for you to answer a question.

The good news is this kind of work pays really well – usually better than a monthly account. The bad news is you take a little more risk because it’s a “one-time” job. The possibility that you’ll do the work and then not get paid is greater than it would be with a regular monthly client. Make sure you calculate that into your pricing and make sure you get a signed contract and plenty of company and contact information before you start work.

I’ve done quite a few of these in my day and would be happy to send you a copy of the verbiage I use to clarify what’s included, what’s not included and what my client may be charged extra for. I have found it’s a BIG help to have everything clarified right up front. You can reach me by clicking here if you’d like a free copy of the pricing and spec sheet I use. Hope this was helpful!

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