So this question goes back to my original post How Much $$ It Really Takes? and it has the same answer…It Depends.
It depends on what services are you going to do completely in house and what aspects of the cleaning and restoration are you going to sub to others? So you need to have decided at this point what services you are definitely going to offer. Remember the more you offer the better chance you have of getting the job as insurance companies donâ€™t want to deal with a bunch of different contractors on each job and the homeowners want one go to company so they feel like they are in good hands.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t sub out specialty things like textiles, grand father clocks and artwork. I am just saying the more you handle within your company the more control you have over the job and the insurance company as well as the homeowner will see that.
The equipment and supplies that you will need will depend on what you decide. You can start out small and always grow into more in house services too. I like this concept because it means you don’t have a huge initial outlay before you even know if you are really that crazy about contents and structure cleaning. I will talk about the supply side of things in my next post.
Another good thing to think about is that if you even just dabble into the cleaning side of restoration it can help you secure reconstruction jobs as well if that is your main focus by getting your foot in the door so to speak.
Now that being said let us talk about equipment. J
I am going to talk about several pieces of equipment from several companies and let you know what I have found that I like to use. That doesn’t mean other equipment isn’t any good it means this is what I’ve found I like.
And as far as the little pieces like hammers, screw drivers, scissors, etc. I am not going to get into great detail about most of these little tools as their cost is very nominal in price at about $50-$100 total.
Industrial Hepa Vacuum~ This is a must have piece if you will be doing any kind of restoration cleaning. Not only will it remove soot particles without smearing on things like fabrics, paper and unfinished wood but it won’t throw what you are removing right back into the air. It is so vital to remove even the tiniest bit of smoke or soot particles as they will cause odor.
There are many different types and models. Pullman Holt is the brand that I like but there are many others out there as well. I use the large canister type mostly but also really like the back pack model. Whatever you use you just need to make sure that you have a good assortment of attachments that come with it. The price of a good Hepa Vacuum can range from about $500-$1500. Replacement filters for these little babies can also be something to consider when deciding which model to buy. Mine costs about $350 each to replace but some can cost as much as $800 each when you need to replace them.
The price may also determine which type you use at first as well as the size you choose. The backpack style is definitely cheaper in price than say the canister is. And they have a 3 gallon and a 5 gallon model that are priced differently as well. What I like most about the Pullman Holt is their quality. I have had mine for 9 years and have never had any problems with it. It takes a beating and keeps on going. 🙂
Air Scrubber~ There are several different sizes of air scrubbers. I use the Hepa500 from Dri-Eze because it is so easy to move around and travel with. The size of your air scrubber will determine how much volume of air space that it can handle. So you may need more Air Scrubbers if they are smaller and you have a larger area to clean but if they are smaller they may be easier for you and your team to manipulate.
The purpose of the Air Scrubber is to remove the millions of particulates in the air from the loss be it fire, water, sewer backup, etc. After a fire in particular the air inside the structure is extremely full or debris and you nor your team should be breathing that. The proper amount of Air Scrubbers should be running as long as you are in the structure. The cost can be from about $550-$1200.
Air Compressor~ You will need this to blow out certain items that can usually only be cleaned using dry processes or to remove loose soot particles before wet cleaning an item. The Compressor can be basic. The one I use is a Makita from Home Depot and it is a small portable one. Mine cost about $280.
Ozone Generator~ Ozone is a proven deodorizer and works very well. However I will tell you that I don’t like to use it. It leaves a chemical smell on object that takes several days if not weeks to air out and it is very dangerous and can kill humans, animals and plants. Cost is about $800.
Hydroxyl Generator~ Hydroxyl is a natural process that is used to deodorize and disinfect areas and surfaces. I have used Hydroxyl for almost 3 years now and find it to be very effective on all odors. The thing I love most about this machine is that it is completely safe for humans, plants and animals to be in the area while it is being used unlike Ozone.
Unlike Ozone there is no chemical smell after you shut the machine off. It actually smells like nothing just fresh air. Ozone also can damage many things like leather and rubber where Hydroxyl does not. It is completely safe. Hydroxyl not only deodorizes contents but all structure components as well.
The downside is that this machine runs about $3000. This is something that can be rented however to ease the financial burden.
Airmover~ There are several models and types of airmovers. And they range in price from about $200 to $800 depending on the make and model. You can also rent these for as little as $20 per day from a commercial rental store.
The important thing here is to buy a professional airmover not a fan from Home Depot. You will need airmovers to use Ozone and Hydroxyl Generators as well as to dry out items that have maybe gotten wet from the fire department putting out the fire. You will also need one or two for your drying room to dry contents that you have wet cleaned.
Dehumidifier~ This is definitely a piece of equipment that you can rent just like the airmover. The Dehu is not something that you will need on every job either if you are dealing with mostly fire clean ups. You will always need them on water, sewer back and possibly trauma scene clean ups. In case you have never used one before they are for pulling moisture out of the air that is usually put there by the airmovers that you have set on the jobsite. It costs about $70 to $120 per day to rent and anywhere from $1400 to $4000 to buy.
Ultrasonic Machine~ This is my favorite piece of equipment to play I mean work J with. The Ultrasonic is the most valuable brilliant piece of equipment when doing contents cleaning and restoration. Not only can you clean items faster but also better than you ever could by hand.
Now this little baby is quite expensive at about $13000 to $16000. However you can rent them as well. You may even be able to partner with a blind cleaning company to lease use of one they might have. This would be a piece that I would highly recommend that you buy as soon as you can. I have seen them for as little as $5000 used.
Now they come in many sizes so you want to be sure to get one that would be big enough say to fit a large laundry hamper in. This size will allow you to clean items like electronic as well. If you are going to clean electronics with it you will need to use special chemicals and deionized water.
You can find table top models that are much cheaper but really don’t do you much good for contents cleaning as most contents wont fit in them and it will slow up your process a lot.
Electronics Cleaning System~ The Odell system for electronics cleaning is a really good system. As is the Fireline portable system pictured to the right. The price of these systems can range from $700 to as high as $25000. So this is not a purchase that I would recommend until you are definitely serious about contents.
Electronics are a high profit item however it also an easy item to sub out to another company that has all the big expensive equipment. You still make good money when you sub it out but defiantly not as much as if you did them in house. But just like the Ultrasonic Machine I would recommend making sure you are ready to make this kind of big investment especially when you can lease or rent these for way less than purchasing and save your cash flow in the beginning.
Esporta System~ This lovely little unit is used to clean laundry, shoes, purchases, belts, hats and pretty much anything that we call soft items. It can also clean stuffed animals, some toys, etc. The Esporta Machine can run as high as $80000 so again this would something I would purchase after I had my company up and running to the point where I was able to be serious about taking on laundry type items.
You can also use this machine to do these types of damaged items for other companies as well to make some money.
Â IÂ personally have always used a garment cleaning service for my soft contents because I do my contents mobile. This is definitely not something that you need in the beginning or even at all. There are many contents cleaning and restoration companies that sub this kind of work out rather than handle it on there own. I do want to stress however that there is really really good money to be made in laundry.
Truck Mount or Portable Cleaning Unit~ When cleaning contents you will be dealing with upholstery, mattresses, certain drapes, pillows and rugs. These items will most likely need to be cleaned using a professional steam cleaning unit.
There are basically two types. One is called a truck or trailer mount and the other is a hot water extraction portable unit.
Now I want to make sure and clarify that I am not talking about going to the grocery store and renting a Rug Doctor when I say a portable cleaning unit. Those types of unprofessional units will only damage contents not clean them.
I have pictured here a van and two different types of trailer mounted units as well as a very good professional portable unit. The price range for these can be anywhere from $70000 to $4000.
I have used a portable from US Products and several truck mount type cleaning units and they have all been really good. I am not going to get into which truck mount unit is better than another because that would be a very long post with way too many opinions I am sure. 🙂
I also want to touch on textiles for a moment. I am actually going to direct you over to my friend Lisa Wagner to let her give you the expert opinion on rugs. Textiles are a very unique piece of contents cleaning and restoration and should only be handled within your company once you have a trained Textile Pro on your team and the right equipment to take care of them. Lisa does offer world class training and education if you want to delve into that niche.
Well I know that this was a long post but I hope you gained some value and tons of knowledge about what equipment is need to clean contents as well as structures that have been damaged in a loss of some kind. Please don’t be shy let me know if you have any questions or need any help finding any of these pieces.
Next we are going into the supplies you will need and how much you will need to initially invest in them.