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Contractor Corner: Cleanup Tips Once Job is Complete

Contractor Corner: Cleanup Tips Once Job is Complete

If there’s one subject that tends to invite disagreement among contractors, it’s how much responsibility they have to clean up after themselves when a job is finished. While most professional contractors will agree that it’s never acceptable to leave a disaster area in their wake, some contend that it’s simply not their job to leave their work area spotless when the job is complete. One thing that is certain, though, is that cleanup – actually a lack thereof – is one of the biggest complaints contractors hear from their customers.

To set your contracting business apart from the competition, it’s a good idea to develop a coherent policy regarding worksite cleanup and make sure that all of your employees adhere to it—that means making arrangements with any relevant subcontractors, as well. At the end of a job, nothing makes a client happier than to be able to immediately use their new, remodeled space. Since there are a number of ways to approach this vital task, we’ve prepared a guide to help you create a cleanup policy that’s efficient, complete and easy to follow.

Work With Your Crew

While keeping the job site clean is very important to your clients, it isn’t typically the first priority of the tradesmen doing the work. That’s because they are paying attention to the quality of the work they are doing, and rightly so. The last thing that anyone wants is to sacrifice work quality for cleanliness, so it’s important to talk to your employees about how – and when – to integrate cleanup activities. Let them know that time must be allotted throughout the work day to tidy up and go over the various daily construction tasks to determine when it would make sense to break for cleanup.

For example, if you’re working on demolition all day, you’re going to need several breaks to keep the mess from getting out of control. If most of the day will be spent doing finish work, it should be possible to complete the cleanup at the end of the workday. Engaging your employees in the decision making process will encourage them to stick to the plan once it’s made and will minimize how much oversight will be needed on an ongoing basis. That kind of buy-in is crucial to ensure consistent, reliable results.

Talk With Your Clients

After seeing to the needs of your employees, another thing that you’ll have to consider regarding job site cleanup are the wishes of your individual clients. Before you finalize the contract for the work, have a discussion with them about their expectations regarding the final condition of the work area. It’s also a good idea to let them know how the process will work from day to day, so they will know in advance what conditions to expect as the job progresses. You’ll find that some customers are more concerned with not being inconvenienced throughout the process and will insist on keeping things tidy every day. Others might be willing to wait until the job is finished before expecting your crew to straighten up.

Consider Cleanup Needs

If you’re going to commit to a process for keeping the worksite clean, you’re also going to need to provide the right tools for the job. The kinds of things that are necessary to keep things clean will vary based on the job you’re doing, so you must always be ready to adapt. If the project is demolition-heavy, plan to have a dumpster on-site for the duration of the work. If the job is likely to create large amounts of dust, make sure to have sheet plastic and masking tape on hand to seal entryways. That will minimize the spread of the dust and make cleanup much easier. In any case, there should always be push brooms, shop-vacs and dustpans available to aid your employees in their work.

Put Everything in the Contract

Once you’ve established what the client expects from you and your crew, add the details to the job contract. This will assure the client that you will follow through on what you’ve promised to do regarding keeping the job site clean and will specifically define what they can request of you. It may also be beneficial for you to form a working agreement with a local cleaning service that you can engage when a particular customer wants a level of cleanliness that goes beyond what your crew can provide. Make sure to spell out every detail of the work in the contract to the greatest extent possible. Doing so will make sure that there are no grey areas, and therefore no surprises for the parties involved once the job is complete.

Insist On High Standards

A general rule of thumb to follow throughout all of your work is to ask yourself what you would expect if the work was occurring in your own home. It’s very easy to forget that although your crew will go home every day, your client is home and has to deal with whatever conditions your crew leaves behind. If you insist on keeping the client’s spaces as clean as possible throughout each job, the impression you will make on your clients will ensure that they will spread the word throughout your community that you’re a contractor that can be welcomed into any home. As always, if you’re getting ready to start a job and you have questions about what you’ll need to keep your work areas clean, stop into any of our locations and let our staff of experienced professionals help make sure that you’ve covered all of the bases and are ready to make a great impression on your client.


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