House Clearance A Beginners Guide

Welcome to our “house clearance a beginners guide” We have shared some useful information below, to help you get an idea of where to start with organising a house clearance. From choosing a company, what it might cost, timings as well as hints and tips to help you make an informed decision.

House Clearance a beginners guide


A house clearance is often needed after a bereavement or when a family member or friend is taken into care, if this happens the house usually needs to be cleared so it can be sold or given back to the local authority.

In both instances the house will need to be cleared of it’s contents. If the house is subject to probate, (a will has been left by the deceased) then the contents will need to be valued prior to any redistribution nd or sale of chattels to comply with inheritance tax, you can learn more about probate valuations with HRMC’s probate basics here.


Everybodys different, so you should keep anything that you feel is important to you no matter how small or insignificant other people think it is.

We understand that keeping the bigger stuff is sometimes difficult, but with smaller items such a photos, jewellery, heir-looms etc. We think it’s good idea to try and keep hold of these for at least 6 – 12 months and see how you feel after that. With smaller items you can easily move them yourself at a later date, either to a charity shop or the recycling centre.


A property clearance is often a very difficult and challenging task, especially for the family and friends of a loved one. When looking for a property clearance company you should look to find someone reputable and trusted who will carry out the task respectfully and sensitively.

Ask your friends and colleagues if they have any recommendations, your solicitor maybe able to recommend someone or go online and search for “house clearance companies”.


These aren’t the same thing in our opinion, many rubbish clearance companies offer a house clearance service which might be suitable in some instances.

However be aware that they may smash up furniture and effects from the house on the drive and inside the house so they can maximise space on their tipper style vehicles. This can be the most cost effective solution, however it could be very upsetting to see the possessions of loved one, smashed up in front of you.


Once you have identified some companies you should look at third party websites such as Yell or Google that carry reviews and recommendations to identify the best ones.

Because most people only ever need a house clearance once or twice in a lifetime their are some small Man with a Van type companies that have no issues with ripping people off by over charging, cutting corners and breaking promises made, as repeat business from the same customer is unlikely.

It’s worth looking for an established company thats in it for the long haul, where possible look for a company that is VAT registered and registered company, whilst using some common sense and your gut instinct.

You should ask the contractor if they are a registered waste carrier and ask for their waste carrier number if necessary. If the rubbish cleared from the job you arranged is found fly-tipped and traced back to you, you will be held responsible and face a fine of up to £50’000, read more here at RBWMC.

If they are not registered advise them they need to speak to the Environment Agency on 08708 506506 and as of March 2014 all companies will need to have a waste license.


Ideally you want to have two or three companies quote for the work, so you can get a good feel for the pricing, as well as who will be coming to the property and carrying out the work on your behalf. A reputable company should be more than happy to give a free quote without obligation.

Depending on the job and your requirements some companies will ask to see the property being cleared before hand, to gauge the size of the house and the density of contents being cleared, it’s their job to work out how long it will take, how much waste their is and what can recycled.

Its always a good idea to try and arrange for all of the quotes to be done on the same day so everything is fresh in your mind, it usually takes between 20 – 45 minutes to go through the property and run through what needs to go.

If some of the contents in the house is staying, then point this out to the company representative ( Tip put Post it Notes on anything that’s not to be cleared) its also worth showing the company rep any cubby holes and cupboards that have contents to be cleared.


One thing that all house clearances have in common, is they are all totally different and many factors needs to be taken into consideration.

The main ones are density of contents, parking and any restricted access to certain parts of the property. For a regular two to three bedroom house with an average amount of furniture, possessions, junk and rubbish, it should take a good house clearance company 8 – 14 hours or a full day using a two or three man team.

This would include some boxing up of smaller items, separating junk rubbish and recyclables on site, and if they are a good contractor they should leave the house clean, tidy and vacuumed. The house should be totally empty of all rubbish and artefacts excluding fixtures, fittings and white goods, all of which can be cleared upon request


For an average size house prices should come in at around £550 – £900 inc VAT, but prices can vary again depending on the density contents and the amount of junk and time to clear.

A good company should be able to work out how much the waste and rubbish their is and what it will cost to dispose of and off set the cost against anything with a resale value.

All good property clearance companies will pay to dispose of their rubbish, so bear this in mind when getting a quote, on average companies pay between £138 – £160 per tonne.

Once the property has been cleared the contractor still needs to dispose of the rubbish at a licensed waste centre, separate the recycle items and drop donations to local charities, which can take another day or two’s work, which can reflected in the quote.


There are a number of larger charities that offer house clearance services which is a great way to donate to a good cause, however when contacting a charity about house clearance make sure that you ask them what they will take.

As a number of charities will cherry pick certain items and leave you with all the junk waste and rubbish. This means you will still need to find a house clearance company to finish of the clearance, most charities wont be able to clear a house entirely of contents.

We have undertaken a number of jobs in recent months where the clients have been left slightly underwhelmed with a charitable house clearance, so it’s worth asking your house clearance contractor which charities they work with.


If you think you have some valuable items there has never been a better time to find out what they are worth using sites like Ebay, you can also ask a local auction house to give you a free evaluation or ask the house clearance contractor to give you a valuation.

An experienced house clearance contractor will be reasonably knowledgeable on the value of antiques and collectables and should look to off-set the cost of the clearance against items that have a re-sale value, however do bear in mind that the valuations will often be the trade price, so that the items can be sold on for a profit.