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Keep It Clean: Efficient Jobsite Waste Management

After a few pints of porter one night and some back and forth on the remodeling industry, an older Irish carpenter I met in the pub one evening told me, “the first two tools brought to any jobsite and the last two to leave should be a broom and a dustpan.” I couldn’t have agreed more. Though a 10 dollar broom might be a tad less exhilarating than your brand new compound miter saw or 80 lb demolition hammer, keeping things clean is critical to your success as a remodeling or general contractor.

This edict is even more true in the remodeling context where we contractors invade our customers homes, kitchens, and bathrooms. If we don’t work hard to minimize our impact we will quickly turn into the Enemy rather than the Hero.

 

Keep a Clean Site

A customer who has just surrendered their kitchen to you for two to three months is not interested in having you creep into the rest of their house as well. The best way for you to remain in a positive light, is to start clean, keep it clean and finish clean. Make it a mantra.

Many people on the outside think of construction as a loud and dirty business, but it doesn’t have to be all that. Sell your service as an unobtrusive and clean process. Don’t allow spitting, smoking, or swearing on the jobsite, keep the radios to a respectable volume, and maintain cleanliness as a priority and a requirement.

 

Strategize

On our first day at a new project, we leave most of the tools in the truck. We focus on isolating the work area with plastic sheeting barriers and zipper entry ways. The Zip Wall system is excellent for this. We protect the floors with Ram Board, but we will occasionally use free cardboard salvaged from a previous job (especially cabinet installs which produce a lot of cardboard waste). With our work area isolated, we rarely have to spend anytime cleaning outside of it.

We strategize on where to store our waste, and maintain a single entry/exit point for all the workers, such as a rear or side door. We minimize our impact and make it easier to keep the isolated areas clean. We leave empty trash barrels, brooms, dustpans, and vacuums on site for all of our workers and subs to easily access.

 

Advertise

Your attention to detail in setting up your clean jobsite also serve as a big, flashing, neon advertisement to your customers, subcontractors, and prospective clients: This is a Professional Jobsite. We Keep it Clean. Your customers will be impressed to see you’ve hermetically sealed the jobsite and happy not to have to dust off their dining room table before supper.

Your subcontractors will find it much easier to maintain your standards of cleanliness if you provide them the resources to do so. Leaving a broom, a vacuum, and empty barrel within easy reach makes a huge difference.

Your super clean jobsite is also a great advertisement for future customers who you may invite to visit the site, or who might see pictures you post on social media. Photos of a sparkling clean work in progress are certain to help separate you from your competition.

 

Cut Your Costs

As with anything we do as small business owners, we want to make sure it will help our overall bottom line, and maintaining a clean jobsite definitely saves you money in many ways. A cleaner jobsite is a more efficient jobsite; people work faster and happier in a more pleasant environment when they aren’t tripping over mounds of construction waste. Your subcontractors might even give you more favorable pricing if they prefer working at your superior site to another contractor’s.

In working cleaner, we can also reduce our waste disposal costs by sorting recyclables, municipal solid waste, and construction and demolition debris, which all have different associated costs.

Recyclables can quickly fill up a small 15 yard dumpster, and you’ll pay hefty minimum tonnage charges for light-but-bulky cardboard and plastic. As I mentioned before, cardboard is fairly useful on future jobs as floor protection, but it can also be used to wrap around easily damaged casework like door openings, balusters, and handrails, or provide a disposable dust mat for your entryways. Any other recycling from the jobsite can be put on the curb with the regular recycling.

Municipal solid waste, such as food waste from lunch should not be thrown in with your regular construction debris. A dumpster or a few bags of trash may sit for a week or two before they are disposed of, not good if it’s full of food waste. You do not want your customer looking out at their driveway to see a host of horseflies and birds picking at an already unsightly dumpster.

A tip I learned from youtuber Matt Risinger, is to keep a dedicated trash can on site for food and non-C&D waste only. My jobs are fairly small, so I will just dispose of these bags with my municipal waste at home, but your customer may be happy to put it out with theirs. Another tip: since your clients are not often home when the garbage truck comes and goes you won’t hurt your reputation by having your crew take their empty cans off the street for them.

 

Conclusion

In the end, it’s a dirty business; there’s going to be dust and debris, but you can get out in front of it, contain it, and control it, or wait for it to become a mess. We prefer the former, that is, the easy way. No one likes working in a dirty environment, not to mention living in one. So for the sake of your customers, workers, subs, and your wallet: Keep It Clean.

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Construction Waste Removal in Urban Environments

As a remodeling contractor working in the Greater Boston area, I learned early to get creative with construction waste removal. For contractors, disposal is far too often an overlooked item on bids, and can end up cutting into our bottom lines when changes in scope push the schedule of a project or we underestimate the quantity of debris. Working in an urban environment creates a unique challenge in that we don’t often have a secure location for even a small 6 yard dumpster. Here are a few ideas and tips that have worked for me in the past.

Tips for Demolition

Working intelligently during the demolition on a project and ongoing debris maintenance will help to simplify and organize the process of construction waste removal and reduce headaches.

 

  • Make a plan of attack. Will you remove the trash through a window, stairs, or elevator?
  • Create a staging area for all the debris that is convenient to the stairs or window.
  • Bag all the debris with strong contractor bags and keep the weight manageable. Remember you and your crew will have to hump these down the stairs or drop them from a window.
  • Always follow OSHA guidelines when removing waste through a window.
  • Trash chutes can be rented or built from a few garbage cans or sonotubes and a length of rope or chain.
  • Or try this flexible trashchute
  • Whether you are using a dumpster rental service or not, make sure you follow the guidelines set by the renter, hauler, or transfer station regarding LEED, concrete, appliance, or hazardous waste disposal.

 

Keeping all the trash neatly organized and in a convenient area will streamline the removal process whether it will be done by your crew or subcontractors.

 

Where Do I Put the Dumpster?

On a lot of our jobs in the city we simply don’t have the space for a dumpster, but there are plenty of solutions out there to help you keep the job moving.

 

 

  • Buy or Rent a Small Dump Truck

 

We are lucky enough to own a small dump truck that we use for most of our remodeling work. It’s a basically 10 yard dumpster on wheels; we can bring it to the site when we need it and take it away when we don’t. It’s also very handy for loading tools, equipment, and materials in and out of jobs. On some of our jobs we can pull the truck right up to a window and dump the waste directly. On larger demo jobs, I will bring in extra laborers so we can quickly load the truck and get multiple loads in one day.

We purchased our truck used for a great price, but even if you don’t have the capital for this expenditure, dump trucks and cargo vans can be rented by the hour, day, or week from many vendors. Even a DIY moving truck rental can be a great option, but I prefer the top loading dump truck, especially since it can be dumped rather than hand unloaded. As with any rental service make sure you are not violating any of their terms of use by hauling prohibited items.

 

Pros:

  • No CDL required in most jurisdictions
  • Since you control the truck, you can keep an eye on your costs
  • Load at your own pace.

Cons:

  • A smaller truck means more trips to yard. Trips = time, time = money
  • You may lose time dealing with a rental
  • If you own the vehicle, you’ll pay for insurance, maintenance, and registration
  • Some transfer stations charge a minimum, which you may not reach in a smaller vehicle, so maximize your truck’s capacity by loading efficiently. (We like to use doors and sheet goods to extend the height and capacity of our truck’s bed.)
  • Pickup trucks, vans and box trucks must be hand unloaded.

 

 

  • Hire a Construction Waste Removal Service

 

 

In our city there are quite a few companies that specialize in removing trash from job sites and junk removal. They show up with a truck and 4-5 laborers who quickly load the truck and head off to dump it. They provide the labor and disposal, but you’ll pay a premium for subcontracting it. If you can’t get your hand on the labor or need to move on to start another project, this might be a great option for you.

 

Pros:

  • You can focus on what you do best, and leave this unpleasant task to someone else. Just write the check!

Cons:

  • You’re paying markup on someone else’s labor and cutting into your bottom line.

 

 

  • Get Creative, Talk to a Local Hauler

 

 

On one recent condo renovation project, we had to remove a lot of debris quickly, and my small dump truck wasn’t cutting it. I called a local hauler with a plan. He pulled up with his roll off truck and backed the 20 yard dumpster right underneath a sliding door that overhung the parking lot. I had 5 guys on site that day, and the six of us filled the dumpster in 30 minutes, and the hauler was off to dump. The arrangement worked great for him because his total time involved was less than a typical pick up and drop off.

In another instance with the same hauler, the neighbor allowed us to use his parking spot while he was at work. The hauler agreed to drop off at 9 am and pick up 3 pm. You may have to pay a slight premium for this, but our guy didn’t upcharge because we are a repeat customer.

These examples might not work for every scenario, but getting to know a local hauler who might be willing to go off script to you out in a pinch is a no-brainer. If you’re looking for construction waste removal or dumpster rental in the Pittsburgh area, check out this new tool called Dumpster Market for finding the best local haulers in the marketplace.  You can compare options from 10 different local hauling companies the same way you would with hotels at Hotels.com or Trivago.  

 

Pros:

  • With a larger dumpster, you’ll remove a lot of construction waste quickly and skip the minimum tonnage fee charged by many transfer stations.
  • Using your own labor to fill a subcontractors truck will save you money, while you still benefit from his larger capacity.

 

Cons:

  • You’ll have to spend some time finding the right hauler, as not everyone will be willing to get creative with you.

 

 

  • Rent a Parking Space from the City or from a Private Party

 

 

In some situations, you may be able to rent a parking space from someone in the building you are working in or one that is adjoining. Most municipalities will also give you a dumpster permit to park on the street, for a fee of course. Having a full size dumpster at the job site is always preferable, but in some situations the above solutions may be better.

 

Pros:

  • Access to a large convenient dumpster is always a plus
  • A permanent job site dumpster means you won’t have to worry about working to a disposal schedule, and can do clean outs as you see fit.
  • Your subcontractors will appreciate it, and it makes it easier for them to help keep the site clean–which is always a priority in kitchen and bathroom remodels.

Cons:

  • It may not be conveniently located to the jobsite
  • You’ll pay monthly rent or a recurring municipal fee.
  • An open dumpster is an invitation to the neighborhood: “Hey throw your junk in me!” You’ll have to tarp over the dumpster and put a lock and chain on it to prevent industrious neighbors from filling it up with their unwanted furnishings and hazardous waste.
  • Cost overruns!!! If the job runs longer than expected or there are delays, you’ll still have to pay to keep the dumpster there.
  • Renting from a neighbor may create an unpleasant hassle–depending on the neighbor…

 

Conclusion

As contractors it is our job to get the job done safely, quickly, and to the highest standards possible. We want to save our customers money, and also make a good profit for ourselves. Though often overlooked, waste disposal is an area where we can use new ideas and innovations to continually refine and streamline our processes, ultimately improving our workflow and bulking up our bottom lines.  If you’re new to all of this, check out this guide to sustainable management of construction and demolition materials from the EPA.

-Patrick Mulroy owns ReModern Builders LLC, a Boston-based home remodeling company.

 

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Dumpster Rentals

The Do's and Don'ts of Dumpster Rentals

Dumpster rentals are more complex than you may think. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult or a burden on your project timeline and budget. A little planning and research up front will prevent surprises that could have been avoided. Follow these best practices below and your dumpster rental experience will be a breeze.

DO

  • Know Your Size – Check out our sizing guide to determine how much waste you plan to need to haul and what size dumpster you need to fit it.
  • Know Your Timeline – Understand when and how long you need the dumpster and how quickly you will fill it up.
  • Get a Permit – Dumpsters located on city-owned property always need a permit. Other restrictions may apply.
  • Know the Potential Fees You Face – Overtime, overfill, overweight charges can occur unpredictably and vary per hauler. Make sure you know them upfront.
  • Order by category of waste – If you have heavy debris or a LEED-certified construction site, you will want haulers to treat your order differently than a standard rental.
  • Understand limitations of the hauler – Inclines, soft ground, public walkways, trees… there are a number of variables that can impact how and where a dumpster is dropped off.

DON’T

  • Select Based on Square Footage Alone – Heavy construction debris can quickly exceed the weight capacity of a dumpster before it is even half full.
  • Fall Back on a Swap Out – Swap outs are not guaranteed to come immediately and can cost as much as the initial dumpster rental.
  • Assume the Dumpster Can Fit – Make sure your desired drop off point allows for truck access and room to drop off and pick-up.
  • Overfill the dumpster – An overfilled dumpster is a hazard to the hauler as well as the public because materials can fall out of the dumpster in transit.
  • Add waste items that don’t belong – You can’t put just any item in a dumpster. Some limits are obvious like hazardous waste, others are not, like mattresses and food.
  • Assume haulers are inflexible – Haulers set standards so that they can control the logistics of their business. If you need a dumpster fast, or have other unique demands, always ask the hauler first!

Did you know that DumpsterMarket haulers compete for your business? That’s right – search all of the available haulers in your area instantly. With guaranteed price transparency and quality service, you can be confident you are getting the best deal on a dumpster rental.

Now that you know the Do’s and Don’ts of dumpster rentals, book today!

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What are LEED Roll-off Dumpsters?

LEED roll-off dumpster

A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified roll-off dumpster is different from a standard dumpster in that it carries waste materials that can be reused or recycled rather than sent to a landfill. Reusing or recycling construction waste also saves natural resources, cuts production costs, and extends material life cycles.

To acquire this certification, your construction project must be compliant with a kind of solid waste management or recycling plan. It therefore means that a LEED rated roll-off dumpster must be able to give you the required logistical support in waste disposal for your construction site to be deemed environmentally sustainable.

Many contractors already employ informal recycling on their construction sites. However, if done on a large scale, the recyclable material in local markets has a positive economic impact. The only major requirement for your project is that you abide by a construction waste management plan.

Roll-off dumpsters can be used to help achieve LEED certification but understanding the difference between a standard roll-off and one used towards LEED credits is essential to ensuring that your project achieves the appropriate requirements.

Nothing Special
With roll-off dumpsters for LEED credits, it is the content that matters, not the dumpster itself. As long as the dumpster is designed to fit your project needs, any roll-off model can be utilized. However, it is considered a best practice to use a separate dumpster for the materials to be recycled and applied towards your LEED credits.

Permitting Remains the Same
The permitting requirements for using a dumpster are the same as with any other dumpster. Each location has its own permitting regulations for dumpster use but specifications towards LEED credits typically are not required.

LEED Content Requirements
While there are no specific dumpster requirements, there are limitations towards the content of the dumpster. In addition, some LEED-focused waste management companies can have standards and requirements that can also apply. Check out the U.S. Green Building Council for more information concerning requirements.

Facility Requirements
Some locations require the use of a separate recycling facility while others maintain dual-use facilities. Be sure to check with your hauler to ensure that all requirements are met.

Achieving LEED certification for any project, both large and small is a great way to show your commitment towards a sustainable future for all. By using a dedicated roll-off dumpster, you can not only make your project a success but help your community as well.

 

Check for available dumpsters in your area.

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How to get a dumpster permit in Pittsburgh

Dumpster Permit in Pittsburgh Pennslyvania

Dumpster rental in the Pittsburgh area

Getting a dumpster rental permit in Pittsburgh is easy if you plan ahead. The city requires you to first obtain a permit before renting the dumpster. These metal containers make any remodeling or construction job easier though and well worth it!

When do you need a dumpster rental permit in Pittsburgh?
Whether you require a dumpster permit depends on where you plan to place the dumpster. In Pittsburgh, a permit is necessary if the dumpster will be on:

  • The sidewalk
  • The street
  • Other city-owned property

If your neighborhood is governed by Homeowners Association rules, you might want to get permission before placing a dumpster on the street.

Obtaining the roll-off dumpster permit
You can apply for your permit in Pittsburgh at the Department of Public Works. After filling out the application and paying the associated fee at the permit counter, approval will be granted. These fees are for the permits and are not connected to the rental costs of the dumpster.

Here are examples of the typical fees charged for obtaining a roll-off dumpster permit:

  • Residential: $25.00 per week
  • Commercial: $100.00 per month
  • Commercial¨$375.00 per year

Commercial jobs are usually more time consuming than residential work, but if you have plans for long-term residential work or short-term commercial work, the permit office may be able to work with you. Also, the city has expanded the number of payment options available for those seeking a roll-off dumpster permit so that applying for one in person will be more convenient.

Once you sign a contract with a dumpster rental agency, the unit will be delivered and placed by the rental company, then picked up at the time and date on your rental agreement. Make sure to you check out which items and materials are not allowed inside a dumpster.

 

Check to see what Dumpsters are available to rent in your area.

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What can be thrown away in a roll-off dumpster?

What type of waste can go in a dumpster

Whether you are doing a bit of remodeling or moving and getting rid of unwanted items, a roll-off dumpster can help you dispose of most of your waste easily and efficiently. Simply apply for a permit at your Department of Public Works permit counter and schedule a dumpster rental delivery with your local hauler. Additionally, with a variety of sizes to choose from, you could fit almost anything in a dumpster.

However, there are some materials that are absolutely prohibited.  You can always call our customer service reps at 844-728-3533 to discuss your project – they’ll quickly help you decide if what you are throwing away will be allowed in a dumpster.

The first easy way to determine if an item can go into a roll-off dumpster is to check it for warning labels.

If the label contains a poison, chemical or biohazard symbol, it needs to be disposed of according to the instructions on the label. If there are no disposal instructions, you can call your local sanitation department to find out how to properly dispose of these dangerous materials.  Now, onto the less obvious items..

What types of waste can be thrown into a roll-off dumpster?

Common household items including clothes, various personal items, and housewares can be thrown into a dumpster. If you are renting a dumpster because of a remodel, most of the debris including lumber, drywall, flooring, siding, and cabinetry can be placed in it.

Other items that are acceptable are:

Appliances. Unless otherwise stated appliances like microwaves and washers are typically accepted. Refrigerators are not.

Furniture. Wooden furniture is always accepted.  Couches, bed frames, chairs, stools, tables etc…are very common items thrown into dumpsters.  Check local restrictions on upholstered pieces to be safe.

Yard Debris. Yard debris is usually accepted. In some locations, you may be able to dispose of tree limbs, bush trimmings, and shrubs in a dumpster. Other locations may only allow a few bags of leaves. Stumps are often not accepted.

Asphalt, Shingles, Brick, or Concrete. May be disposed of in dumpsters.  In some areas we have discounted price offerings specific to heavy materials.  Attention to weight limits is key when disposing of heavy debris.

What types of waste cannot be thrown in a roll-off dumpster?

There are a number of items that should not be disposed of in a dumpster. Most of these items have the potential to contaminate the environment or pose a health hazard. Some of these items include:

  • Automotive
    • Tires
    • Oil
    • Fuel and fluids
    • Batteries
  • Home & Office
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Cleaning products
    • Partially full aerosol cans
    • Mercury containing bulbs
    • Refrigerators
    • Hot water tanks
    • Mattresses
  • Building Materials
    • Paints, lacquers & stains
    • Adhesives, glues & epoxy
    • Inks/resins
    • Refrigerants & refrigerant containing products
    • Asbestos containing products & materials
  • Site waste
    • Stumps
    • Pesticides
    • Contaminated soil or absorbents
    • Railroad ties
    • Industrial drums & manufacturing by-products
    • Petroleum refining & chemical manufacturing wastes
  • Other Hazardous Waste
    • Food waste
    • Biohazardous or infectious waste such as medical needles & bandages
    • Highly flammable products or accelerants
    • Toxic and corrosive waste
    • Radioactive waste

When disposing of electronics, pharmaceuticals or refrigerators, check with your local sanitation department. Check out your city or town’s recycling programs that make disposing of these items easy, and usually free.

Do you have questions about what you can put in a dumpster? Contact us today for more information on available dumpsters in your area.