Cleanup on Aisle Farm

If there is one thing you can count on as a constant during renovation (and even new builds), it’s cleaning.

by Stephanie Staton
During a home renovation, clean up as you go to make the work more efficient and to keep your project in order. Photo by Stephanie Staton (
Photo by Stephanie Staton

If there is one thing you can count on as a constant during renovation (and even new builds), it’s cleaning. Home-renovation shows often provide a quick glimpse of people carting a couple arm loads of debris out to the dumpster and occasionally pushing the latest advertiser’s gadget across the floor at the end of project, but rarely do you see more than that—and trust me, there’s a lot more to it.

I’m here to tell you that 90 percent of the time you spend renovating is devoted to cleaning—from the heavy lifting of shovel- and wheelbarrow-packed loads of construction debris to collecting bits trash and recycling left behind from rehydration efforts and energizing snack breaks. If you thought renovating meant a break from this ever-mounting chore, you thought wrong; however, there are some pluses to completing this never-ending chore—namely, not paying someone else to do it.

Often contractors charge by the hour (you see where I’m going with this, no?), so it only makes sense that you’d prefer they spend their hours building stuff versus sweeping floors. That said, it doesn’t hurt to speak with your contractor in advance about employee etiquette (i.e., put disposable food containers in the bin not on the ground for you to pick up later) so that you can focus on removing construction debris and not on rescinding invitations to critters in search of an open buffet. If you’re not paying by the hour, get quotes for work both with and without cleanup so that you can assess the cost effectiveness of doing it yourself. Be sure to ask if haul away is included in the price, and call around for quotes on these services from local providers—having someone else pick up and haul off might be more cost effective in some areas versus others, depending on how far you are from the closest disposal company and the accessibility to your farm.

Because we’re relying mostly on friends and family to help out with our renovation, the clean up falls to us—with a few chides here and there directed at those close enough to us to know my crazy need to recycle everything and complete inability to see why others don’t understand it. (Hey, it’s just one of those things!) We opted to pay a local hauler to drop off an empty dumpster and take away the full one—the disposal cost includes both hauling and disposal fees, but once again, iron out these details in advance so you aren’t sticker-shocked when it comes time to pay the bill.

How often you clean up is left to you and your contractors, but I recommend doing it daily. While it sounds a bit extreme, putting away tools, sweeping floors and other general efforts at tidiness are sound practices that will not only make your site safer but also will make your workers—be they family, friends or contractors—more efficient and effective with the project at hand. We’ve spent countless minutes and even hours searching for a particular tool only to find it buried in a pile of sawdust or at the bottom of a bucket—it’s worth the effort in time saved searching.

Cleanup certainly isn’t the most glamorous job in the renovation realm, but taking the time to keep your site clean will pay you back tenfold in peace of mind and efficiency each and every day.

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