By now, most people have heard of hoarding, mostly due to the cable show Hoarders. There’s a big difference between ordinary household disarray and hoarding. Typical clutter can usually be picked up quickly, and is usually temporary.
Hoarding is a chronic condition assessed in five stages.
In stage one, every room is still accessible, but closets are overstuffed and items have started to pile up, untouched. Daily life goes on as usual, although there may be anxiety about piles of clutter.
In stage two, there may be broken appliances lying around, a storage area may be full and more things are coming in than going out. The clutter is starting to become embarrassing and the hoarder becomes estranged from family and friends.
Stage three means that damage to the home is visible from the exterior, it becomes difficult to move through the home and pets begin to use the bathroom inside. This is usually when the family expresses concern.
At stage four, mold and dust have spread throughout the home and the living conditions include bad air quality, bugs and rodents. The hoarder may have lost his job, and be living in a small section of the house.
By stage five, the home is no longer safe for habitation. There’s little actual living space. Neighbors have most likely complained to local authorities and social services have probably been called.
Hoarding Cleaning and Costs
If you’re dealing with a hoarder at any stage, call the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore. They work with best-selling author Matt Paxton, founder of the extreme cleaning company Clutter Cleaner and an expert on “Hoarders.” They know that compulsive hoarding isn’t due to laziness or poor housekeeping. It’s a complex anxiety disorder that makes it difficult to throw away items, regardless of condition.
ServiceMaster Restore has a three phase program to help a hoarder clean up and work towards a clutter free life.
In Phase one, they work with the client to understand the situation, build trust and line up social services, if necessary.
Phase two involves making a plan for sorting and cleaning. Their team takes care of donating, recycling or disposing of unwanted items and cleaning the rest.
In Phase three, they work with the client to develop a maintenance program and provide short-term follow-up to check in and see if additional resources are needed. They bring valuable insight and make sure the client always feels in control.
According to Mr. Paxton, costs to clean up a hoarder’s home vary because they are billed hourly and each case is different. The average cost runs between $5,000 and $10,000.