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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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So you wanna be your own contractor?

Be Your Own General Contractor

So you want to be your own GC on your upcoming remodeling project, eh? Well, first of all, good luck, you will need it. Contrary to popular opinion, though aligning strongly with common sense, being a general contractor is a learned skill which takes years of experience to master. Far too many well-meaning homeowners have made the mistake of thinking they can do away with this crucial individual and expect the same results–but it can be done by the well-prepared DIYer.

 

First of all, what exactly does a GC do? A lot.

 

The general contractor is a friend, a sounding board, a design assistant, an accountant, a magician, a manager, a salesman, an expert, and often the difference between a disaster and a thing of beauty. Not all GCs are alike or posses the same strengths. Some wear collared shirts and hold clipboards, others wear belts and boots, but they all are there to help you get your project done on time and on budget.

If you want to act as your own GC, here are the most critical hats you must wear.

 

Manager

There are a heck of a lot of moving parts and people on a jobsite. Someone has to keep it all together. The GC manages his employees and subcontractors, interfaces with the designer, architect, and engineer, and also, manages you and your expectations. He maintains communication with vendors and suppliers, and takes responsibility for fixing problems when they occur. Cabinets arrived broken? Subcontractors are late? Didn’t pass the rough inspections? Designer forgot to draw the built-ins? Dumpster is overflowing into the neighbors yard? The contractor addresses these issues as they arise to get the job back on track.

When you are acting as your own gc, get to know your subcontractors and suppliers. Communicate with them throughout the project on your progress so they know when they need to be onsite. If the plumber shows up to find you switched from a 50 pound acrylic tub to a 500 pound cast-iron monster, he’s not going to be thrilled. The savvy GC would schedule the delivery on a day where there are more hands on deck.

 

Estimator

Every job is different and therefore has differences in costs, but a good general contractor can get into the ballpark at a glance. Estimating carpentry labor or the square footage of tile you will need before the walls have even gone up is a skill most homeowners may not possess. That decision you made to bump the bathroom wall over a foot may have seemed small, but the consequences–say an extra 80 square feet of expensive were not. Inexperienced homeowners will often overlook critical areas like waste removal, underestimated the length of the project and the number of dumpsters needed to manage all of the construction debris.

 

Accountant

While I’ve never met a contractor with a side business as a CPA, most smaller contractors run their own books, or at least used to in the early days, and therefore have a good sense of how to run a budget. A contractor will provide you with an overall job cost and make his or her business to stay within budget.

When you take the reins, you will be responsible for keeping the money under control. Break down your project into subcontractors and materials, get quotes ahead of time, and stick to your numbers. If you find savings in one area, hold off on splurging on that fancy vanity, until you’re certain you won’t need it elsewhere.

 

Expert

Well let’s face it, you’re not going to top a GC’s 25 years of experience in the field, but you can at least get a head start. The internet is packed with information on remodeling and construction, whether it be trade magazines, blogs, tv shows, or youtube, you have to read, watch, learn, and repeat. Study up and talk to the experts, that’s how most GCs get their training. Spend an hour at the paint store talking about VOCs, sheen, and coverage; talk to the plumber about how the heating system works; call local haulers and talk rates and dumpster sizes.

 

Conclusion

The bottom line is if you want to be your own general contractor, and put that extra money into your pocket or project, you have to act like one. This is a trade that people spend years learning; it cannot be learned overnight, but a determined individual who prepares himself for the task, will do just fine on a smaller project.

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Environmentally Friendly DIY Remodel

Environmentally friendly remodel

You may not be trying to prove yourself or even looking for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits, but giving your home an environmentally friendly remodel will be your invaluable contribution to future generations by not depleting the current resources or endangering the environment. Here are some steps to ensure a green DIY project is met.

Start with the design

Any remodel must start with a design in mind, therefore, that is where your green renovation approach should start as well. However, consult widely to get professional views. Considerations you should make in your design include:

Consult and start your remodel with a sustainable and green design. While this ensures you are happy with the end result, it also moves one step in the right direction to saving the world.

Materials for an Environmentally Friendly Remodel

Your choice of materials is what defines your green renovation. Choose them carefully for an environmental friendly remodel. The materials you choose should meet the following goals:

  • Save valuable natural resources
  • Minimize exposure to toxins and chemicals
  • Be energy efficient
  • The majority of materials should be Recycled/reused/refurbished

Environment friendly building and remodeling materials not only help you enjoy lower utility bills but also give your home a better resale value. Examples of such materials include bamboo plywood and recycled counter tops.

Eliminate your waste properly

Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the key words for any environmentally friendly remodel. Here are some points to consider:

  • Find out recycling options-state’s environmental departments, waste management companies, and even green contractors should be able to guide you on recycling options for your remodeling debris.
  • Salvage what you can and put it up for a sale, reuse it, or even donate it.
  • Deconstruct instead of demolishing. In this way, you will be able to salvage a lot of material.

With any construction project there will always be debris you can do nothing with other than dump. Waste notwithstanding, its disposal should be the least of your worries because affordable dumpster rentals are all over the country.

 

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How to ensure your construction crew is environmentally friendly

Construction crew

The construction industry is beginning to change its attitude towards environmentally friendly construction processes. As pollution problems become more recognized, many contractors are building green while still retaining their competitiveness. For your green renovation to be a success, you will need to lay down a number of practices for your construction crew to ensure that other than your project, your crew too are environmental-friendly. They are:

An environmentally friendly construction crew integrates green principles into planning

A green mindset guides development decisions from the start. Integrating green principles into your renovation planning and design can give you up to 40% savings and 40% better performance. The right construction crew will be more than willing to deviate from standard design principles and go green.

Use eco-friendly materials

Conventional construction makes use of toxic paints and solvents that lead to overall health and safety issues. However, your green renovation should always use sustainable materials. Give your crew eco-friendly building materials, non-toxic paints and solvents, and let them be environmental friendly in their work.

Improve your demolition and waste disposal practices

Any chance to use recycled material is a saving opportunity for your green renovation. Rather than dumping more and more debris into landfills, find a way of making it sustainable. It can be reused, recycled, or even sold. And for what cannot be useful, find an affordable dumpster rental that is environmental friendly for your waste disposal.

Harness natural energy

Energy costs keep soaring with the growing strain on power providers. Your crew should have the option of installing clean and renewable energy. Nothing says green renovation more than wind and solar power.

Recycle water and use local materials as much as you can

A very important element of sustainable construction is water conservation. Recycling water shows that your crew maximizes on available resources. Locally sourced materials reduce the carbon foot print, reduce transportation energy, create an efficient construction process, and even grow local economies.

There are numerous sustainable solutions which if you lay down the right framework, will yield a lot of viable options.

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How Much Waste Do Kitchen Remodels Produce?

kitchen remodels

Kitchen remodels can produce a lot of waste. If you are planning to do one soon, you may be wondering just how much waste the construction will produce and what exactly to do with it. How much debris the remodel will produce depends on several factors.

Types of Debris in Kitchen Remodels

Kitchens have more debris than other renovations, mainly because this is the busiest room in the house. You’ll find you’ll need to dispose of several types of debris including:

  • Cabinets and Shelving
  • Countertops
  • Flooring
  • Appliances
  • Sinks
  • Plumbing and Wiring Debris (if you’re going that deep with your remodel)
  • Drywall

Depending on when your kitchen was last remodeled, you may have some waste that is dangerous. It’s important to know this ahead of time so you can have the proper protective equipment and disposal methods in place before you get started. Hazardous debris can include:

  • Light bulbs containing mercury
  • Aerosol paint cans
  • Refrigerators
  • Asbestos-containing materials

Size and Severity of the Kitchen Remodel

The size of your kitchen will determine how much debris you’ll produce. A small kitchen won’t have as many cabinets, countertops or flooring to dispose of as a large kitchen.

But what you are remodeling will make difference in waste, too. If you’re just replacing kitchen cabinets, you won’t have to worry about as much debris as someone who is gutting their entire kitchen and starting anew.

Disposing of Waste

Regardless of the size of your remodel, you’ll still have quite a bit of waste. Most of the waste in landfills is from construction jobs, so you should try to recycle as much of the debris as possible. To do this, you’ll need to organize your debris as you demo your kitchen. Some of the debris you can recycle includes:

  • Concrete
  • Metal
  • Clean Wood
  • Insulation
  • Fixtures
  • Some Appliances
  • Plastics
  • Glass (un-tempered)

Separating debris into plastic trash cans or simply putting it in piles will make it easier to dispose of once the demo is done. But there’s no way around it, you’ll need to rent a dumpster.

If you’re having trouble determining how big of a dumpster you’ll need for your kitchen remodel, contacts us today.

 

 

 

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What You Need to Know About Replacement Windows

Windows

What I need to know about replacing my windows? There a number of reasons why you should replace your windows; be it that they are old, broken, among others things. The actual process of installing replacement windows might actually be more intensive than it seems. This is the reason why you need to know one or two things about replacing them especially if it will be your weekend DIY project.

Cost

You may have avoided labor expenses. But you do have to buy the actual windows and a few other things right? Home Adviser averages new windows cost at a national average of $5000 with a low end of $2500 and high end of $15,000.

You may also need:

  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Pry bar
  • Level
  • Nails
  • Caulk & caulking gun
  • Wood putty
  • Paint & brush

Functionality check

Good quality windows should eliminate the need for storm windows as well as be easy to maintain and clean.

Energy efficiency

Apart from new windows cost, you will also be paying utility bills for air conditioning and heating. Lucky you if you get windows with a good energy efficiency rating because you will spend less on utility bills.

Tripled paned windows vs. single paned ones

Triple paned windows may add some bucks to your new windows cost but provide significant energy savings and you will recover your costs quickly.

Adhere to safety codes

Safety codes are for your own protection. For example tempered glass should be used in a window adjacent to a door or inside a bath/shower.

Get the exact fit

Replacement windows only save energy when properly insulated.

Waste management

Replacing your windows will result in debris which if not well managed will escalate your new windows cost. Expect the following waste:

  • Ripped paint
  • Nails
  • Wood
  • Sills
  • Tiles
  • Cracked mold
  • Aluminum
  • Composite
  • Fiberglass
  • Vinyl
  • Glass
  • Putty

The quantity of this waste when replacing your own windows will depend on the number of windows being replaced as well as the extent of damage and renovation. You can hire an affordable dumpster rental for the duration of your project and let them handle the waste. Waste can be:

  • Recycled
  • Reused
  • Sold
  • Donated
  • Dumped

Ask for help if you need to know more about installing replacement windows if you need it.

 

Local dumpsters are available in your area to help!

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Bathroom Remodel: Know your waste

Bathroom Remodel Know Your Waste

Did you know that on average, a bathroom remodel produces 0.63 tons, or 1,260 pounds of construction and demolition (C&D) waste? This is based on national waste composition study averages. So when you want to update your bathroom, make sure your remodel is as green as possible to reduce the waste produced. However, this is not all, you need to manage the waste you cannot avoid generating. Bathroom remodel waste can include:

  • Old toilets, sinks
  • Fixtures & fittings
  • Vanities
  • Cabinets
  • Concrete
  • Gypsum in case of drywalls
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Doors, windows etc

However, all bathroom remodel or any other remodel waste is not the same. Debris will always contain some hazardous waste and while some are easily recognized, you may be surprised what is not. Hazardous waste from your remodel may include:

  • Aerosol spray cans
  • Light bulbs and lamps with mercury
  • Switches and relays with mercury
  • Oil-based paints
  • Solvents sludge
  • Paint thinner
  • Treated wood & sanding dust
  • Contaminated towels and rugs

How to remove waste

Waste often ends up to be more than you planned for; spilling off into the yard, sidewalks and everywhere else. But you can comfortably, cost-effectively dispose debris. One way to do it is to recycle or even donate usable material. Sometimes what you can’t wait to get rid off may be just what someone else is looking for.

The following can be recycled or salvaged from bathroom remodel:

  • Concrete
  • Scrap and rabble from masonry
  • Metal
  • Plastics
  • Insulation
  • Clean wood
  • Un-tempered glass
  • Assemblies for the doors and windows
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Appliances etc

For what cannot be donated or reused after your bathroom remodel, you will need to dump it. You may be a hands-on person who enjoys taking care of things yourself but get a professional because things can get messy, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. Professional waste disposal services offer dumpster rentals among other services to rid you of debris. However, disclose the waste in terms of amount, size, and what it’s made of.

 

Much of the waste from a bathroom remodel can be donated, reused or even sold. Believe it or not, 22%-44% of our landfill comes from construction debris. A standard bathroom remodel can warrant up to a 40 Cubic Yard Dumpster.

 

Check availability of Dumpsters in your area.