The Pros and Cons of Starting a Construction Cleanup Business

Construction worker slapping dust off of his hands shows why a cleanup crew is necessary.
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Contrary to popular belief, construction-site cleanup is often not a part of a regular contractor's job description. A contractor takes away his own equipment and tools, but getting a site camera-ready for occupancy—or, in complex, multistage projects, the next round of work—is a whole separate operation. Enter the construction cleanup crew. From carting away debris to making surfaces sparkle, their job is to make sure space is sanitary and safe.

Construction cleanup businesses are usually hired — occasionally on the spot — by the main contractor or whoever is the current point person on the job. Contact local construction companies, property management outfits, custodial-service providers, and restoration and renovation companies to market your services. Many cleanup operators can build a solid customer base, working with the same contractors, builders, and real estate developers on a project after project.

The Pros of Starting a Construction Cleanup Business

Some of the advantages of starting a construction cleanup business include:

  • The startup costs are low.
  • Since it involves unskilled labor, the field doesn't require any advanced academic degree or special training.
  • Since you are working on a job site, there is not much overhead for your headquarters.
  • You can work on a variety of sites, or choose to specialize in commercial or residential projects.
  • You need not maintain a large staff, but just hire extra workers on a contract basis to help with a job or to take on more jobs.
  • You can expand your services by providing ongoing touch-up work, lawn cleanup, window cleaning, and other tasks.

The Cons of Starting a Construction Cleanup Business

Here are some of the potential challenges of starting a construction cleanup business:

  • The work is very labor-intensive, so you need to be in good physical shape—and unafraid of heights or tight spaces.
  • You will need to be familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements and standards.
  • Depending on state regulations, you may have to carry construction-related licenses and obtain construction permits before working on unfinished premises.
  • You need to be flexible in your hours, available on short notice, and able to work fast.
  • You may need to lease or even purchase trucks, vans, dumpsters, or small bulldozers. Some of these may require special operators' licenses.
  • You will need to carry liability insurance and pay fees to be bonded. Anyone working for you should probably be bonded too.
  • You may be exposed to dust, fumes, and other hazardous conditions on a regular basis.
  • Opportunities fluctuate with the state of the local real estate market. Work is often seasonal in nature.

Final Thoughts

All new and remodel construction jobs have one thing in common: They leave behind a mess. While it may be dirty work, a construction cleanup business service could be a business for you to explore if you are physically fit and energetic. There's lots of lucrative tidying up to be done before the building can be lived in, worked in, or put on the market. The Restoration Industry Association, a nonprofit, professional trade association, can be a valuable resource for information on starting a construction cleanup business.