Shopping Hoarding

Most of us, when asked, can give an example of a recent purchase we’ve made that is currently just sitting in our homes unused. It may be an item of clothing we never ended up wearing, a tool we don’t need, or a piece of décor that ends up sitting in a closet.

For a large number of people, this doesn’t pose too much of a problem. We’ll go through our belongings, donate what we never actually used, and move on, lesson learned. For others, though, they not only feel compelled to shop and bring home what they bought but are also never able to get rid of the purchased items. Over time, these items accumulate to the degree where the amount of stuff infringes on their ability to live their daily lives.

What is shopping hoarding?

Shopping hoarding, like other types of hoarding, is an often unseen issue raging in someone’s life. It happens when a person suffers from a compulsive need to make new and unneeded purchases and hoard them in their home or storage spaces unused without being able to discard the items afterward. Signs of a person who is a compulsive shopper and hoarder include:

  • A person buys and keeps numerous items whether or not they are actually used
  • The items are (usually) unorganized and not stored in an orderly fashion
  • Items clutter the living space and overtake the rooms to the point the rooms are not able to be used as intended
  • There are financial and/or relationship issues due to the shopping and hoarding

Due to a person’s shame and discomfort around having anyone else in the home, friends and family may never know a person is dealing with such issues until there is legal action due to the hoarding or the person passes away. Those cleaning out the home may then discover the unopened bags and boxes, the clothing with the tags still on, or the multiple belongings stacked in every available space.

Why does a person become a shopping hoarder?

A person usually becomes a shopping hoarder because they are trying to fill an emotional hole in their life they haven’t ever truly dealt with. This can be a past trauma, death of a loved one, lack of self-worth, or an obsessive compulsive disorder. Not willing to deal with the underlying pain, they self-sooth through shopping, whether online or in a store. They find making a purchase comforts them, gives them a sense of self-worth, and helps them not have to deal with the pain within.

Like a drug addict looking for their next fix, shopping hoarders feel compelled to repeatedly shop. Every time they make a purchase or packages arrive in the mail, the chemical dopamine is released in their brain and they feel good. The stuff itself doesn’t matter to them – it’s the emotional attachment they have to acquiring and storing it that makes it so hard to stop.

Intervention and treatment

Without a major intervention and therapy to deal with the underlying issues of why someone feels compelled to shop and store the bought items in ever increasing piles, the underlying reason is never resolved, and the shopping will continue. A trained psychologist can work with a patient to uncover the deeper reasons beyond any surface issues and work with the person to resolve them and help them grow in the ways they’ve been missing. In some cases, financial intervention and even medication to deal with depression or other anxiety disorders may be needed.

The dangers of compulsive shopping and hoarding

In addition to the financial issues and relationship issues that compulsive shopping and hoarding can cause, there are numerous safety issues as items collect on a property. Houses were built to only hold so much weight on the floor supports. As items build up, the strain of the additional weight can damage these supports and make the building unsafe to inhabit. In addition, as rooms build up with new belongings, mold, dust, and pests can find their way among the boxes and bags causing further damage.

As many people feel ashamed of their hoarding, they may not let repairman come onto the property as needed to maintain safe living conditions which leads to even faster deterioration. Though they may know on some level the damage done, they are continually compelled to shop and hoard until one day they either find help or pass away.

I need help cleaning up a shopping hoard!

If you need help cleaning a property after someone has hoarded purchases, Georgia Clean is here for you with fast and efficient hoarding cleanup. Our team has years of experience and know how to quickly work through areas in hours or days that would take family and friends weeks or moths to handle. Don’t put yourself through all that angst; rely on us to provide quality service and an easy solution.

With a sharp eye for any family mementos, valuables, or important paperwork, you don’t have to worry anything of importance will be lost or thrown away. We’ll look out for any lost items and set them all aside to be looked through later.

Georgia Clean is committed to adding as little to a landfill as possible. We therefor make sure any items in good enough condition to donate are given to charities that can make use of the items or are recycled whenever possible.

If you need help cleaning out a hoard, see our hoarding cleanup page or call us with any questions you may have at 770-766-4562. We are happy to provide a free quote and consultation so you understand our cleaning process and we can understand your needs.

How Much Does Hoarding Cleanup Cost?

One of the questions we are asked most often about hoarding is how much it costs to cleanup. Sometimes the question comes from the children of hoarders who are trying to deal with the mess their parents left behind. Other times, it is asked by a property owner whose tenants have left a hoarded home behind without cleaning it up. Still others are the hoarders themselves wanting to clean up their home or are facing legal action if they do not.

Whoever it is on the other end of the line, we wish we could give a straightforward answer right away about how much it would cost to clean up the hoard. However, the cost of cleaning a hoard can vary widely due to multiple factors. These factors include:

  • The square footage
  • The amount hoarded (Volume)
  • The type of hoard
  • Type of biohazards
  • How much needs to be sorted

To give an accurate amount, we have to see the hoard with our own eyes to understand the true scope of work needing to be accomplished. While pictures and descriptions can help with this beforehand, it takes an experienced technician to see for themselves before we can quote how much cleaning it all out will cost.

The square footage

Hoarded homes can range from a lot of clutter in one small room to a gigantic house filled from floor to ceiling with biohazards. We know from experience that a hoard can also fill the outdoor space and even be hidden by overgrown brush. While square footage can be a factor, it’s really the total volume of the hoard that is considered. The more volume a hoard takes up, the more time it will take to clean out.

The amount hoarded (Volume)

Just as a hoard can be spread out over a large area, the amount of a hoard also depends on how much is stored in that amount of space. You can have a lot of junk spread around outside to towering boxes teetering over tiny pathways going from room to room in the house—if you can get into the rooms at all. Some houses are so tightly packed that the person now lives on the street or is forced to clean out the hoard because the very foundation of the house is breaking under all the weight.

In our experience, we find the family does not often realize just how much is inside a home and are shocked with the vast amount that comes out the door. When we clean out a hoard, we have to rent dumpsters into which we dispose of the unwanted items. Each dumpster costs between $500-$600 and for a hoard, we usually need several of them. Depending on the number of items to be thrown away, these dumpsters get filled remarkably fast.

The type of hoard

Hoarded homes do not look all the same. There can be many different types of hoards. Hoarded items can include but certainly are not limited to:

  • food
  • trash
  • clothes
  • toys
  • paper
  • animals

Some of these types of hoards take more people to clean them out than others and take more time to complete the task at hand. When we give a quote for a hoard cleanout, we always take the type of hoard into account.

Type of biohazards within the hoard

When a person is hoarding and a problem with the home arises needing repair, the person hoarding will often not have it repaired due to embarrassment or inaccessibility to the item needing to be fixed. This can enlarge the problem as the person will then make other choices such as peeing in a bottle instead of using the toilet. Feces and urine quickly stack up and can soak through multiple building layers causing structural issues. Over time, the hoard can also be overtaken by pests such as mice or cockroaches which leave another layer or urine and feces over all the belongings. If a person hoards animals or food, you also then must deal with the pets’ urine and feces or mold and rot respectively.

All of this is legally categorized as biohazards and must only be dealt with by those officially trained in biohazard cleanup. When biohazards are involved, all the hoarded items can be hazardous to people’s health and if improperly handled, will leave behind issues for years to come. It is for this reason we bring specialized equipment to handle such hoards such personal protective gear, medical waste disposal bags, and specialized cleaning equipment.

How much needs to be sorted

Sometimes when we are cleaning out a hoard, we have been told by family members or the hoarders themselves to look for specific items. At other job sites, we are told to dispose of everything inside the home. While we want to make sure everything is saved that should be, we also know it takes more people more time to sort through the belongings and less time to simply dispose of everything inside. When we are quoting the cost of a clutter cleanup, we always take the wishes of those involved into account.

Call us to arrange for a quote

We all want to see our loved ones live in a clean environment and our property investments protected and so we make sure our prices are fair and our work is of the highest quality. Compassionate and discreet, our staff are always available to answer your questions and clean out any property.

If you live near the Atlanta area, call us to arrange for a quote for hoarding cleanup. Our staff are always respectful of every person and belonging and we work hard to keep prying eyes away. With us, you can rest easy knowing we’ll put you first.

Hoarding Trash: 3 Things to Know Before Cleaning It Out

A hoarded home full of trash is a health issue for both those who live in the home and those who live nearby. Full of rotten food, paper, unused items, and other biohazards, such a house runs the risk of being deemed uninhabitable by the local government. Once condemned, the people who lived there are left without a home and, with the likelihood of lost relationships due to the hoarding trash, without a place to go to.
Cleaning the home, whether to help the person currently living there or to save the property after they have passed away or been evicted, is a needed step to take for the health of all involved. Before stepping in with trash cans or a dumpster, though, there are three important things to know to make the cleanout successful.

1. Hoarded trash should not be cleaned out by people untrained on proper hoarding remediation

Without being properly trained on how to protect oneself and others from dangerous substances in the hoarded trash, you put yourself and others in danger. When cleaning out a hoarded home, there are multiple hazards that can cause diseases. These can include:

  • Mold
  • Rotten food
  • Animal feces and urine
  • Human feces and urine
  • Pests and insects such as roaches, flies, rats, mice, etc.
  • Dead animals
  • Chemicals

With these materials left to fester inside and outside the home, the solids and liquids seep into the surrounding structure, damaging the floors, walls, and the roof structure. These problems then compound one upon another. If something breaks such as the electrical or plumbing, the person can be so ashamed of the interior, they don’t allow someone else inside the home to repair the item and instead do without. For example, if the toilet breaks inside of a hoarder’s home, they might use plastic bags to go to the bathroom and toss the bags to rot in a corner.

Anyone untrained in how to clean up a hoarder home should not attempt to do it. Without proper protocols and precautions, a person can breathe in polluted air, become infected with a huge number of bacteria and viruses, and be traumatized from the experience. Professional biohazard cleaners know what it takes to clean out a hoarded home, protect themselves from becoming infected, and when it is no longer safe to be in the home due to structural issues. Don’t put yourself at risk by doing it yourself.

2. There are treasures and important items among the trash that should be sorted out and salvaged if possible

Even in the most hoarded home, there are treasures among the trash such as important papers, family heirlooms, and photographs. These are usually hidden away and put in unexpected places. Though there are exceptions to this rule, you shouldn’t indiscriminately throw things away unless the items are unsalvageable. Infected with bodily fluids, pests, and odor, each item then needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to be kept. With thorough training, a professional biohazard cleaning company knows where to look for such items, which ones are salvageable, and how to thoroughly clean them so they can be returned to the owners in a clean condition.

3. Hoarding trash is more than a physical problem

Unless the person was hoarding trash has died and the property simply needs to be cleaned up, the issue isn’t a physical cleanout alone. It is also a mental issue that needs attention otherwise the hoarder will continue to hoard and the house is going to return to the way it was. To truly solve the issue, the person’s mental issues need to be addressed as well.

Without treatment, a person who hoards thinks the items in the house are still good, still usable. The fact the items can’t be used and won’t ever be used isn’t a connection the hoarder makes inside their brain. Such a person may look at their hoard and only see the items they’ve saved that are important to them, not the mounds of trash around the important object. In other cases, they see the trash as precious and something to be saved in order to not be wasteful. Through counseling and careful monitoring, a person who hoards can be helped and a safe living environment restored.

Get professional help as soon as possible

When a person hoards trash, it can literally destroy a house. Ceilings can fall down, walls can separate and the foundation can be fundamentally damaged due to the weight of the hoard. More importantly, the quality of life for a hoarder is seriously restricted and it is a danger to the whole neighborhood. To save those you care for or to protect your property investment, make sure to get professional hoarding cleaning help as soon as possible.

When Do You Find Help for a Hoarder?

Many of us know someone who has packed their houses full of clutter. Perhaps there are even bedrooms or a living room filled with boxes. You know day-to-day living is difficult for them but you’re not sure if you should step in to help. With so many people on the spectrum of hoarding and so many different types, when does the clutter become hoarding and when does “live and let live” become a situation where you need to express your concern?

There are several different signs you can observe telling you to have a serious talk with a friend or loved one who is hoarding.

Broken Plumbing or Electrical Systems

When a person hoards a lot of belongings like trash, food, paper, or other such items, the house can become so packed the person is unable to reach certain areas. When an electrical circuit or pipe breaks or a faucet leaks, the area is so blocked they can’t make their way in to fix it and are too ashamed of the hoarding to let a repairman in to repair the situation. The result of this issue can be:

  • water leaking unchecked creating mold
  • strong odors
  • no working toilets and showers creating a buildup or urine and feces
  • no heating or air conditioning

Any of the above issues creates an unhealthy living environment for both humans and animals with the potential of multiple diseases and breathing difficulties.

Signs of Pests and Unhealthy Pets

If you are over to your loved one’s house and you notice insects or rodents such as roaches, termites, carpenter ants, flies, mice, or rats, there is likely urine, feces, and structural damage in places you cannot see. With the additional weight of items on beams already structurally compromised, the house itself becomes a dangerous place in addition to the diseases pests can carry and transmit to humans.
Pets, too, can carry disease and be suffering in silence. If they are sick, there is likely vomit, urine, and feces among all your loved one’s belongings making breathing difficult.

The Suffering of People and Animals Who Can’t Help Themselves

In a hoarding situation, there are usually one or two people who are doing the hoarding and the rest of the inhabitants have no choice but to live with it. People there who have no other alternative but to live in that kind of environment can include:

  • children
  • elderly people
  • people who are disabled
  • pets

People such as these may not have the mental capacity to stand up for themselves and to get out of the situation on their own. It becomes even more critical for other family members or friends to step in when the hoarding is negatively impacting those that cannot fend for themselves.

Speak to Your Loved One about Their Hoarding

As biohazard cleaners, we can only clean out the homes where we have permission from the hoarder themselves to remove the items and clean the home. Even if the property belongs to someone else, it is stealing to take items that belong to another without permission. It’s important to speak with your loved one, though, for their own protection and for the safety of others living in the home. Without intervention, disease can run rampant and if they ever have a fire or medical emergency, first responders will be unable to enter the home to help them. Don’t wait until tomorrow, talk to them today.

Need Hoarding Cleanout?

If you have any questions about our hoarding cleanup services or would like a free consultation and estimate, we at Georgia Clean are always here to help in whatever way we can.

Hoarding Can Lead to Tragedy

Two short weeks ago in Gainesville, Georgia, a woman died of smoke inhalation when her apartment caught on fire. With all the items she’d hoarded piled nearly to the ceiling, the firemen found it difficult to enter the space and look for the woman trapped inside. By the time they were able to find their way through, the woman had passed away.

When a person has a difficult time discarding objects due to a perceived need to save them regardless of their value, it is called “hoarding.” Hoarded homes are often filled to bursting with various possessions and materials and thus pose a huge fire risk to themselves and their neighbors.

Hoarding raises the risk of fire

At the apartment in Gainesville, the amount of items the firemen had to find their way over and through took precious time out of their ability to get through the space, fight the fire, and rescue the woman. Even a few seconds can make the difference between life and death and unfortunately, this woman didn’t make it out.
In addition to the amount of items which can catch fire in a hoarded home, additional fire issues include:

  • Difficult to navigate: When items are piled and stacked up in rooms, often making those spaces unusable, any existing paths through the home are precarious at best and easily toppled. These blocked paths can not only cause injury but also make it difficult to get out of the home. Even paths easy to negotiate in the light quickly become impossible in dark smoke and flames.
  • Weakened structure: If items have been stored for a long period of time, the weight may have damaged the structure thus making it more prone to collapse in the event of a fire. Pests and insects, also, may have destroyed some of the supports making it dangerous for both those trying to get inside and those trying to get out.
  • Electrical issues: With items stacked and piled against electric appliances and outlets, electrical issues can occur without anyone being aware of them or people are unable to fix the problems when they do occur.
  • Flammable objects: When a space does catch fire, it can burn extra hot due to flammable objects among the hoard or may smolder for long periods of time due to lack of oxygen.

Get the help you need before a fire starts

If you or a loved one have hoarding tendencies, getting the help you need now before there is a fire in the home can save a life. The family of the woman who died along with Adult Protective Services had been working with her and giving her time to clean the home when the fire broke out.

Using a company such as Georgia Clean is a fast solution to cleaning out a hoarded home. If you are concerned about dangers such as pests, combustible items, mold, or other biohazards among all the possessions, then it is important to have professionals who understand these dangers and how to protect themselves while digging through the items and cleaning them out. Well-trained in what to keep and search out, they can complete the task quickly and clean the entire area afterward so you and your loved ones are safe.

Personal Safety is the number one priority

If you know of someone affected by hoarding, it’s important to help them understand the dangers of fire and the importance of personal safety. There are also agencies you can call who can help you find the resources you need. In the meantime, there are several precautionary steps you can take:

    • Minimize household clutter
    • Maintain open escape routes
    • Ensure electrical and plumbing systems are kept in good repair
    • Make sure all smoke detectors are working
    • If there is a fire, let the firemen know about the hoard in the house as this will change their tactics in how to fight the fire

It’s a tragic event when anyone dies in a fire but with precautionary steps, cleaning out existing hoards, and finding the help needed, we can prevent this from happening to ourselves and those we love.

Atlanta Resident Facing a Hoarding Cleanup Notice

If your property in Atlanta is a mess and you’ve just received a hoarding cleanup notice to be done by a certain date or face legal proceedings, what do you do? Perhaps you have just inherited property, are renting a house or apartment, or own your own home and have just received a hoarding cleanup notice from the city of Atlanta to clean it up. No matter how the property has come to be in this condition, you are faced with a lot of material to clean up in a short amount of time before legal action will be taken. You are not alone in this situation however. Many people put off cleaning up their hoarded property until formally ordered to do so.

Hoarding While Renting an apartment or house in Atlanta

Legally, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for hoarding alone. Hoarding is now legally considered a mental disorder and anyone formally diagnosed by a medical professional cannot be evicted for hoarding under the Fair Housing Act which prevents discrimination when renting out property. However, if a tenant’s hoarding is doing damage to the property, increases the risk of fire, or is affecting the quality of life for other tenants, a landlord can evict someone for the damage hoarding can cause. Such damage can include:

  • blocking emergency exits
  • storing dangerous or explosive material
  • damaging the ventilation system, fire alarms, or sprinkler systems
  • damaging the property
  • housing animals in a manner against the lease agreement
  • storing perishable food in a way that attracts pests or mold

If an Atlanta landlord suspects a tenant is causing damage to the property via hoarding or otherwise, they can notify the tenant they will be inspecting the property on a certain date. If they find damage or potential damage during that inspection, the landlord will typically give a tenant a specified amount of time to remedy the situation before beginning legal proceedings to evict them. If a tenant does not clean up the property in that timeframe, then a landlord is able to give them final notice to move out.

Atlanta city orders hoarder cleanup notices

If a person owns their own home, the city can order a hoarder cleanup notice giving the property owner a certain number of days to rectify the situation or face heavy fines or other legal action including the condemning of their property. At the end of that time, if a person is able to show they have made a concerted effort to clean up their property, the timeline to clean up the property fully may be extended. If no such effort is made, the city is legally able to take official action against the property owner such as declaring the property uninhabitable. The specific proceedings and consequences depends of the rules and regulations of your local city ordinances.

Cleaning up the hoarder property – a solution

No matter who ultimately owns the hoarder property, if you have been served a hoarding cleanup notice, you need to do so in a short amount of time. Aside from digging in and doing it yourself, a real struggle that can take a lot of time if you’re the one who lives there, a much faster and more efficient solution is to hire a property cleanup company to come help you out.

Whether indoors or outdoors, a hoarder cleanup company can be the solution you need. Not only can you get help with a seemingly overwhelming problem, but a hoarder cleanup company can respond immediately whenever you call and provide fast service. Among many other service options, a property cleanup company can:

  • remove trash and recycling
  • donate unwanted items
  • clean out urine, feces, and other hazards
  • deep clean the house or apartment
  • remove odor
  • find lost valuables

A good hoarding cleanup company will always be respectful of you and your property as they help you thoroughly clean things out and put the property to right. When they are done, your property will be cleaned quicker than you ever thought possible and you will be in compliance with your landlord or city’s regulations.

We’re here to answer any questions

If you have any questions about hoarding cleanup services or want to talk about your specific situation, give us a call at 770-766-4562 and we’ll be happy to help.