Here are some comments from the COH Yahoo! Group and others who have written in to the COH website, about the important qualities a cleaning company should ideally have. Maybe this information will help you if you are calling around checking on companies to help you?:
”They should have a contract with a pharmaceutical reverse distribution company, so that they can collect and safely and legally dispose of large quantities of medications, including controlled substances. It would be good if they could also collect other medical waste such as sharps.”
”They should be bonded.”
”When requested, they should be willing to sift for cash, checks, family photos, legal documents or other items.”
”I think willingness to approach the situation having a learned about the complexity of the issues is one. Willingness to work with therapists, social workers, families, etc., using a team approach, would be another.”
”They should be willing to investigate the possibility of accepting payment from Medicare or other health insurance providers.”
”They should be willing to work with organizations that accept donated goods or recycling materials, to help minimize trauma and ensure cooperation when the hoarder is directly involved.”
”Hi, group. My name is Cory Chalmers, owner of Steri-Clean, a division of Crime Scene Steri-Clean, LLC.I read all of the comments people left about what they would like to see in a cleaning company.
First let me say that all those were very reasonable requests (well, except Medicare paying for our services, although, yes, that would be nice). But any company you hire should definitely be insured and bonded. They should also be more than willing to sort through the house to find ANY legal documents like wills, bank statements, tax info, etc.
They also should definitely not just throw everything out indiscriminately. If the family does not want it and it still useable, it should most definitely be donated. We donate 90% of our jobs’ belongings to House of Ruth. They are always looking for anything that a family can use. These families are mothers and children that come from abusive environments and are having to start from scratch. We have a few others if anyone needs a good donation or charity in Southern California.
As far as working with social workers and other groups, they better be able to, as that is how we are referred to most of these jobs. They are the best people out there! Anyway, take care and don’t expect anything less from a company than what you have spoken of here. There are plenty of good companies out there! If you need help finding one in your area or state, call me; I will help you.
—Cory Chalmers, Steri-Clean (a division of Crime Scene Steri-Clean, LLC) (888) 577-7206- Ext. 111
”When I convinced my mom to go ahead with the cleanup, I knew time was critical. That was what made my experience with so upsetting. Missed deadlines discouraged my mom— she wanted to give up and the whole process became that much more difficult.
If I had to do it all over again, I would line up 5 or so potential companies to begin with—and do a little background check (the Better Business Bureau, the Attorney General’s office, etc.). Assuming all five are okay, expect they will want to do estimates in person. Schedule those for the same day if you can, or over two days. Ask them for their estimated working time either on a detailed estimate or on a copy of their contract. I know it sounds boring, but think of the contract as a way to manage everyone’s expectations. Ask the company:
• Define what you mean by clean?
• If there is a dumpster, who is responsible for finding one and who will pay for it?
• Will you guarantee the smell will be gone?
• When do I pay you and what form of payment do you expect? “At the end of the project, you should both walk away feeling like your expectations have been met.
The other reason to seek multiple estimates is that depending on circumstances, there may be a wide range of costs. In that case, it helps you ask different questions. For example, my most expensive estimate required 170+ man hours, if I recall correctly. I asked why other firms could do it in less than half that time.
Post-cleanup, I found my mom a cleaning person who goes in every other week, and I took her to the doctor. His office arranged for Medicare to cover a visiting nurse to evaluate my mom. Two days after that, Medicare agreed to provide an assistant for my mom twice a week, at least for now.”