What clean up is GC responsible for?

sloane529August 6, 2012

Nearing the end of major kitchen, laundry, family room, and master suite addition to a hundred year old house and wondering how much of house clean up is GC responsible for. The rest of the house (that hasn't been lived in for 6 months!) is filthy with dust but GC says not his job to clean up. However, there is a set of painted stairs the subs have been up and down with their hoses and tools and they are trashed with chipped paint, marks on the walls, and drywall goo on the treads. I think it should be the GC's responsibility to clean up and re-paint these stairs, DH disagrees since GC charges for every hour he's on the job and we're already out of $. Before I confront GC - is this his job? TIA!

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Sophie Wheeler

The only job the GC has is the ones written into his contract. If you didn't include site cleanup beyond "broom clean" then that is a separate job that you can either hire him for or hire another contractor to do.

An ounce of prevention here would have been better than the pounds of cure on the hind end. Any breakable or valuable objects should have been wrapped up and put away. Any flooring (including stairs) that you didn't want damaged during construction should have been covered with masonite or rosin paper. You should also have figured on painting any walls that are in the traffic path of the trades and certainly any room that was worked on as a standard consequence of a remodel.

An above average contractor would have brought up these points with you prior to the project's beginning, but not all contractor's are great communicators. Most people would settle for the fact that their contractor didn't show up drunk and flood their house. (Only kinda kidding about that.)

Perhaps you should contact a cleaning company that specializes in post construction cleaning. They aren't all that expensive, and you'll probably feel better having the site cleaned by someone who does that for a living rather than someone who doesn't even "see" the mess.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 7:18PM
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So, so much for ethics and integrity.
So, so much for showing the respect for the property of others.
So, lets suppose YOU had covered and protected, after consulting with the contractor to determine what areas he WOULD NOT be working in, all areas he "said" that he would not be working in, including the stairway.
So, after YOU had accomplished all you thought you had to do to protect your property, the contractor enters an area "you had been told" access would not be necessary, and neglects to re-secure the area and construction residue permeates the area.

Where do you think the incumbency lies, remember, YOU had secured the area.

So, if in YOU covering the stairway, some of the material becomes loose or
detached and an accident occurs and an injury results as well as a subsequent law suite.

Again, where do you think the incumbency lies, YOU covered the stairway.

The above scenario is why the responsibility to protect YOU from him and his subcontractors lies squarely with him, he and they are insured.

One of the first things you learn when you come into the "trades" is to leave no footprints.

You have a couple of alternatives;
Withhold final payment until he repairs the damaged areas and does a better job of dust remediation.
After having offered him the first option, have the cleaning and repairs professionally accomplished and deduct it from the final payment.
Smile, pay him and ask if he has a referral list and could he add you to it.
Then blow him up, hopefully in his presence, to a prospective client.

I've been doing this for over 35yrs and find it deplorable that it would even be suggested that someone else was responsible for clean up a mess that I created.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 9:19PM
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You missed the new gold standard in home renovation: "Most people would settle for the fact that their contractor didn't show up drunk and flood their house."

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 10:25AM
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Dust and debris are part of a renovation. Not only would I never expect a contractor to start cleaning areas they had not touched, I wouldn't WANT them in those areas.

We just completed construction of a brand new second floor. I would not have wanted the contractor to start cleaning my kitchen, first floor bath, bedroom, etc. They did keep their workspace clean and were careful with the rest of the home they had to enter. Even so, we had the stairs refinished when they did the hardwoods upstairs. They needed it by then!

If I had wanted clean-up included in the job I would have made sure it was in the estimate. If they built an addition, that space should be clean (broom clean, not spotless). The yard shouldn't have any empty bottles or debris left on it. But, if there was a dumpster parked for a month I wouldn't expect them to reseed the lawn in that area (unless it was listed in the estimate or contract).

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:17AM
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"One of the first things you learn when you come into the "trades" is to leave no footprints. "

Sounds like you have never done major projects with extensive work.

It is one thing to work in a single isolated room with direct exterior access.

It is another to do additions or major work in a number of rooms with access through 'non-construction' areas.

The GC should have included a line for a cleaning service to come through.

You probably would have then complained about the cost.

I had a customer once who would not leave the HVAC off during major demo work, than was incensed that dust got all over the house.

We had used plastic drop walls at every opening into the demo zone, and even covered HVAC outlets and inlets, but having the system on the whole time made sure dust ended up EVERYWHERE.

I never responded to another solicitation to perform work for that customer.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:39AM
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brickeyee (My Page) on Tue, Aug 7, 12 at 11:39

"Sounds like you have never done major projects with extensive work."

Here we go again.
Your bad eyesight and hearing.

How about a 5000sq. ft. addition to a 1500sq. ft. single family dwelling, including a 2 stop elevator, hard and soft scapes as well as pool remodel.

Plans by my hand.

Continuous occupancy.

"Leave no footprints" means leaving the area in better condition than you found it.
For me it's a matter of ethics and integrity, unlike others.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Sophie Wheeler

I've had customers who will cross out the line item for the removal and disposal of the old cabinets and the removal of the shipping cardboard for the new ones if you put it as a separate line. And it's not because they want to save the cruddy old cabinets for the garage and use the cardboard for lasagna gardening either. They just want the cheapest labor job possible, even if the mess negatively impacts their lives.

Then there was the customer who griped about the pile of shipping cardboard stacked neatly on the inside of her garage and the project was only half over. My installer always keeps the cardboard on site through the project in case additional floor protection or cabinet protection may be needed through the project. The cardboard would have been gone after the project was over. And the garage door hid the mess from the neighbors. She couldn't park in the garage even if the cardboard had been removed. It was too full of cabinets, table saw, and other stuff needed for the project.

What it all comes down to is communication and the correct expectations being set. To a homeowner, "broom clean" may not mean the same thing as to a contractor. And some homeowners will resent paying the high per hour dollar figure to have a trade clean up after themselves. Or they resent that a cleaning service was part of the package since that is something that could "DIY" and save money.

I will say that usually in the past I presented a homeowner with the opportunity to DIY some portions of the project in order to meet budget, but that 9 times out of 10 what happens is that they don't meet the timeline obligations and then I've had to rush to get them to pay a pro to do the work, which makes them angry that more money is due and POs the pros as well because it impacts their scheduling of other jobs. I've pretty much stopped doing that "ala carte" bit. It's just easier to tell customers that this is what the job is, but it's "turnkey" and this is what it costs to not have to worry about if they have the skills to be able to drop in that laundry room sink or haul the old cabinets to the dump. And, it always includes broom clean level of cleaning, and that's it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:36AM
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"Here we go again.
Your bad eyesight and hearing. "

Non of your further comments occurred in your original reply.

You HAVE newer done large scale work if you manage to clean up better that you found it without using a cleaning service.

5,000 sq,. ft is NOTHING.
A small home project.

If YOU are doing the clean up you are a lousy business man.

There are cleaning services that will do a better job, faster, and at a lower cost then your labor.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 12:15PM
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