Estate Cleanout 101: Understanding Dumpsters

Estate Cleanout 101: Understanding Dumpsters

Estate Cleanout | 4-minute read
Dumpsters 101 | How to Cleanout an Estate | Dumpster Rental


Driveway Safe

Dumpsters are steel. Roll-off dumpsters are the most common for cleanout work and are delivered to your ‘site’ by truck and “laid down” onto your property end first and left in place through the term of your rental.  They are generally laid on the most convenient hard surface for delivery and removal by the provider. Both delivery and removal can “mess up” asphalt or other driveway surface.  Many have steel wheels at the contact points so the container rolls onto the surface during placement, but not all do. Ask about it.

Have a discussion with the dumpster provider about dumpster placement and damage to your driveway. As one dumpster provider put it, “Seriously, the renter is asking for a 1,000 lb steel can to be scraped across their property so they should not be shocked to see some marks.

Instructive. This deserves a conversation. Dumpster providers’ contracts typically spell out very clearly they are not responsible for any damages. That said, estates are often clearing out properties to prepare for sale. Scratches and divots or worse in the driveway can put off potential buyers or at least cost you $$$ in negotiations.

Plywood and lumber mats can be used under dumpster contact points to try and avoid damage, but nothing can be guaranteed. Many dumpster companies do not provide driveway protection. The few that do, either make it a standard practice to put it under all dumpsters as part of the service, or they make it an add-on that customers pay extra for.

Ask about it.

What about Dump Trailers?

Dump trailers are just as large as the roll-off dumpsters, but have the added benefit of being on a set of axles and tires that do not damage driveways. They are maneuverable, and the smaller, more common 12′-16′ can be easily parked in tighter spaces than a roll-off dumpster.


It is appropriate to ask for a copy of the dumpster rental company’s General Liability Insurance Certificate. Damage to the property may be covered by this type of policy. Every company is different and some do not want to accept responsibility for any potential damages. There is always a risk to having heavy equipment on your property and some things are unavoidable, even if the dumpster rental company uses as much caution as possible.

Location of Dumpster

Estate Cleanout DumpsterTalk with your dumpster provider about the location of your dumpster. Consider potential damage to the surface where the dumpster will be located.

Depending on the location of the “stuff” that is to be carried out to the dumpster, what doors will be used most often to exit the property? Is the bulk of stuff upstairs, downstairs, or in the basement? Is there a location where placing the dumpster below a window might make sense?

It’s important however to consider that while you may want to make it convenient for one area of the cleanout, you don’t want to make it difficult for the rest of the cleanout. Measure doors to see what’s the widest egress.


What size do you need?

Every job is different. Some may require several 20-yard dumpsters, while some may need one 10-yard dumpster.

Dumpsters are sized by cubic yards. 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet = 1 cubic yard. So if you can imagine a 10 feet x 10 feet x 10 feet space, you’re looking at about 37 cubic yards. A good way to estimate is to figure out how many 10x10x10 piles you’re going to have.

Experience tells us that before you call the dumpster company, start the cleanout. Start moving stuff around and move stuff towards a throw-out pile, or throw-out piles. By doing so, you’ll have a better handle on your throw-out load, and won’t over or under your dumpster order.

Dumpsters typically come in 5 cubic yard, 10 cubic yard, 20 cubic yard, & 30 cubic yard sizes.

FYI, most dumpster providers will have a tonnage limit. So additional charges may occur if you’re filling your dumpster with concrete, versus ping-pong balls.

Do all dumpster companies have weight limits and overages?

Yes. Most dumpster companies have weight limits and overages! Per Derek Miller, owner of Dump-It Dumpster Rental in Little Rock, Arkansas puts it, “If dumpster providers don’t have weight limits and overages, you’re likely paying too much for the dumpster. As a dumpster rental company, a good portion of our overhead cost is wrapped up in dump fees, and these fees can range based on your area from $38-$180 per ton. A good dumpster rental company will include 2-4 tons (for a 15-30 yard bin) in the rental cost of your dumpster. If you ever see that only one ton is included, expect overage charges!”

How much time do you need?

Most dumpster companies provide dumpsters on a daily or weekly basis, so you’ll have limited days to fill them up before they move them out. That said, you’ll need to know how much stuff is getting thrown out, and how long your particular cleanout is going to take. Every cleanout situation is different. This may be another reason for starting the cleanout process long before renting your dumpster, staging a throw-out pile, or throw-out piles, so when the dumpsters roll up, you’re ready to load ‘em up!  Common rental times are a day, a week, or a month, however, you may be able to negotiate additional per diems if you need to extend.  Please note that dumpster companies turn around dumpsters quickly, so your dumpster may be scheduled to be on another site the day after your dumpster is scheduled to return.

What don’t dumpster providers typically take?Dumpster for Estate Cleanout

This differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Dumpster companies are subject to the regulations of the dumping facility.

Typically tires, wet paint, chemicals, hazardous materials, and inert materials (Sand, concrete, etc.) etc. are not accepted. Pressurized/flammable materials like a propane tank from your gas grill are also commonly restricted.  Some will not take mattresses, and some will not take appliances or fluorescent bulbs. Often, dumpster rental companies charge extra for mattresses, appliances, or furniture.  It all depends on the landfill, the jurisdiction, and the dumpster rental company.

Wet paint tip: You can dry out the wet paint by buying kitty litter, mixing it into the can, and leaving the lid off for a few days till dry.

What can the customer do to ensure they’re working with a reputable dumpster rental company?

References and referrals are advisable.  Ask friends, family, etc. Facebook groups might help but might yield rave reviews from the cousin of the dumpster company owner.  Check online reviews and use a company that others have had a good experience with. Second, call the company and see how they treat you over the phone. Are they kind? Communicative? Patient? Will they listen to your needs and walk you through the process of renting a bin? Another great idea is to find a company through the Better Business Bureau website. If they are a part of the BBB, it means they align with a certain set of values and integrity, but it also means you can file a complaint if something goes wrong. It provides an avenue for accountability.

It’s worth noting that renting a dumpster in a rural area away from a dumping facility, is going to be much more expensive.  Populated areas will have a higher concentration of dumping facilities.  The cost associated with bringing the dumpster out there and disposing of it at a transfer station (as opposed to a landfill) is typically much higher.  Not to mention the time cost and travel costs when the client is a considerable distance from the dumping facility.

As per above, requesting a certificate of insurance is common for all contractors and their provider can just email it to the renter.


Safety. PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) is strongly advised. Gloves and safety glasses are essential.

Break stuff down. Fit more stuff in a dumpster. A sledgehammer might be handy next to your dumpster.

Metal. Metal has value. Why pay to dump it? Either bring metal items to the local salvage yard, (salvage yards pay for a truckload of different metals), or often salvage guys will provide pickup service and just take it away for free. Either way, you’ll save space in your dumpster, and weight. Maybe you’ll make a few bucks!

Recycle. In most jurisdictions, cardboard, fiber, glass, metals, and other recyclable items can be brought down to the recycling center. So why pay for dumpster space when you can bring it to the recycling center for free? Not to mention, “Let’s keep stuff out of landfills!”

Donate. Please look for local donation facilities, thrift shops, and auxiliaries, where items can live on. This benefits the community as many such facilities fund larger community programs and provide used-item-priced household necessities to people who need them. Not to mention, it keeps stuff out of landfills! Not to mention, it keeps your dumpster load lighter. Not to mention, it’s good for the environment!



Thank you to:

Derek Miller and Dump-It Dumpster Rental, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Derek’s input on the article was invaluable in providing readers with the dumpster provider’s point of view and practical insight for the client to consider. There’s info on their website on how much each size dumpster will hold which is useful for estimating your project needs. See: getdumpit.com.


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