Organising a house clearance may not always be planned. It might not always be welcome, either. But when a loved one has to move into long-term care or has passed away, it can play an incredibly supportive part in what can be a stressful time for family and friends.

This article looks at how a house clearance works, and will hopefully make the process easier to organise. We’ll cover topics like how to lower your house clearance costs, and mention a few charities and recycling companies that accept second-hand items, making your house clearance an environmentally friendly one.

If a relative has recently moved into care, and you’re worried about the ongoing costs, you can use our Care Costs Calculator to work out if your loved one is eligible for financial support. You can complete the calculator on their behalf, or have a free consultation with one of our care experts.

What’s involved in a home clearance?

When a family member goes into care or passes away, their home may need to be emptied and cleaned to be sold, or for new tenants to move into.

It can feel like an overwhelming job, particularly if it’s the home you grew up in. Here are a few things to think about when you’re beginning a home clearance:

  1. Separate items that you want to keep (often it’s a good idea to colour-code what you want to keep, discard, and still need to make your mind up about).
  2. Collect items that you want to recycle, give away to charity or sell.
  3. Pack everything up safely.
  4. Take unwanted items to the tip.
  5. Clean the home, either by yourself or using a professional cleaning company.

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How much does a house clearance cost?

Prices vary, depending on how much of the home clearance you’re willing to take on yourself, and how much you would like some help with. Bringing in a trustworthy team that will take care of all the heavy lifting for you, starts at about £320 for a full van. You might need to pay more for additional items, such as mattresses, TVs and fridges. If you have lots of items that you don’t need any more, it might be worth looking into hiring a skip, which will be priced based on the size and amount of time you want to hire the skip for. The council may charge you a permit fee to keep the skip on the road, if you don’t have off-road parking. This generally costs between £30 and £50.

It’s a good idea to get quotes from a few companies, to make sure you’re paying a fair price.

How do I find a good home clearance company?

Ask around for recommendations, and search online to find companies in your area. Read reviews from customers who have used their services in the past, and see what their experiences have been like.

Once you have a shortlist of companies you like the sound of, contact them and collect quotes, so you can start to build a picture of how much your house clearance is going to cost and who you’re going to choose.

Probate house clearance

If your loved one has passed away, a probate valuation may be required to help ascertain the value of their estate. This is often used to determine inheritance tax and assist in the probate process, and you can usually find a house clearance company that will offer this service.

Other home clearance company tips

Before you commit to a provider, it’s always a good idea to check a few things, so that you know you’re working with a reliable company:

  1. Are they VAT registered?
  2. Is there an office telephone you can call?
  3. Have they got a waste licence registration number?
  4. Are there reviews of the company online? Check sites like Trustpilot and Checkatrade.

How to do a house clearance yourself

Whether your loved one has moved into care or passed away, you don’t necessarily have to pay for a company to help you with your home clearance. So how does house clearance work without professional help?

The hardest part, can often be working out where to start when it comes to sorting through all their belongings. We suggest going around the home and using red, green and orange stickers, colour coding as you go.

  • Red = What’s going to the tip
  • Green = What you’re keeping
  • Orange = What you’re undecided about

Once you’re finished, look at the reds. Can you drive everything to the tip? If so, that’s probably your best bet. If that’s not an option, you might want to hire a van or a skip. Of the greens and oranges, you have a decision to make. Do you want to keep these items, sell them or rehome them?

Jennifer’s inspiring story proves these decisions can be easier to make than you think, as she downsized from a three-bedroom house to a narrowboat in retirement.

Consider donating unwanted items to the Reuse Network – this is a particularly useful portal for furniture that deserves rehoming. Visit your local charity shops and drop off clothing, books and homeware that are still in good condition. Alternatively, the British Heart Foundation is available to collect electricals, homeware and other items free of charge. When it comes to selling online, you can list items on eBay, or try Gumtree for a local alternative.

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Now the home clearance is done, what comes next?

We hope our guide makes your house clearance easier, and even reduces some of the house clearance costs that can often add up. If you’re preparing to sell the property, our article on home improvements might help you add value, whatever your budget.

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