This type of clean-up issue, also known as “gross clutter”, is largely created by behavior of a person who has a hoarding disorder. A person with this disorder will usually avoid making decisions about what they should keep, what should be thrown away, and what should be donated or sold. The condition creates an imbalance of values. In the midst of the indecision, they become convinced that they need to keep everything, rather than make decisions about the disposition of items. The piles of items grow high, wide and deep, usually with only one or two paths remaining that lead only to the main rooms necessary for their livelihood, such as the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedroom.
Our technicians have cleaned hundreds of hoarding homes, and along the way we learned that the most important aspect of cleaning these homes is to work with the homeowner and include and empower the homeowner as part of the clutter-removal decision process. One important aspect we learned early on is that what looks unusable to us may be very valuable to them. Therefore, by partnering with the homeowner, it allows them to trust us as we make decisions together as the removal process progresses.
Since labor is the largest expense, we strive for the right balance between using our own discretion stopping to ask for direction; otherwise it slows down the process tremendously. Finally, when we near completion, we always try to arrange the remaining items so that they are organized according to the homeowner’s desires. We always want them to make the final decisions so that they can live in harmony with the results.
Our final goal is to not only to remove the clutter but also to involve the homeowner to the point where they feel they have shared the decisions, and may have learned how to make these decisions on their own as they move forward in life.