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How much to charge?

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A friend that’s a real estate agent asked me to give her a quote on cleaning a clients house that is prepping to be put on the market.  I assume a deep cleaning (baseboards, wiping cabinets, etc). One thing she also mentioned is that these people smoke in one of the rooms and will need to have the walls cleaned.  I live in NC.  What do you feel is a reasonable price to charge?  I’ve looked up numbers online, but still not sure what to really charge considering this is a side job, and I’m not a professional or licensed company.  What would you charge?

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When we had FIL's house cleaned in prep for putting on the market, we paid a cleaning lady (not a company, did it as more of a side job, but definitely had years of cleaning experience.) I want to say we paid her a total of $170.  

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With all of those variables you might just quote an hourly rate.  They may or may not accept that, but you could reasonably say that that is the only way to quote it without seeing it first.

Another option is to quote high but say that it might be less.

Do you want the job?  If you’re responsible for getting smoke smells out of the house, it could become a real nightmare.  If you don’t want the job you can either say that or say that you’re willing to clean thoroughly but are not responsible for smell removal, and insist on half of the (large) payment in advance.  

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I don't have enough experience to give you reliable feedback, but did want to say 170 seems very low for my area for a whole house deep cleaning, and it definitely depends on square footage. For 1700 square feet, just as example, I'd be thrilled as a client if an estimate for a whole house deep clean including washing walls in one room came in under 300, but I'd expect more like 400-600. I also know there are companies that would charge much more. 

For maintenance cleaning, again for 1700 square ft, I've paid $130 twice a month, and this was considerably less work than a deep clean prior to putting a home on the market. I looked for someone less expensive but everyone who did good work and charged less was all booked. 

If you're trying to build this as a business you might want to start low-ish to establish a client base and references, but please don't sell yourself short! I agree with Carol that it's important to clarify that you will wash the walls, but removing the smell of smoke from the house may be impossible. In my experience house cleaners view the home before giving an estimate, which might help you decide what the job is worth. 

Amy

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Thanks for the input!  Yes, I do want the job.  I take odd jobs like this often, but mostly babysit or sit with elderly people.  Ive only cleaned one house for someone moving in, and she offered $80 and I took it, but at the end of the day I felt like that was way too low!  I was thinking $200, so I wanted to see what others thought to see if that was reasonable.  I plan to tell them that I may not be able to remove the smoke odor, but will try, so whatever they pay isn’t going to include removing it just in case I don’t have success!  This gives me a good idea of what is fair, so thanks!

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Of course the $200 is assuming it’s an average 1700-2000 so feet. 

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For less than 1000sqft, it can run from $200 to $500 depending on whether it’s just cleaning up very old stains (oil, blu tack, food stains) or involves more work than that. Smoke smell is even harder to get rid of than cooking spice smells. Getting rid of smoke smell would be a deal breaker for me in terms of taking on that job.

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I am doing a deep clean on an empty house we are selling.   I'd say $500 to do a good job.   It is involving things like scrubbing down the baseboards on my hands and knees and cleaning the ceiling lighting fixtures.  

And you have to warn them that just washing the walls probably won't do much for the smoke smell.   

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A friend does this, and she either has to go to the house and do an estimate, or she charges by the hour.

Her estimates are very specific. If more needs to be done, she asks them if they want the add-ons and then charges by the hour.

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About a year ago I helped someone out in a pinch by detailing three bathrooms in their home when they were moving out.  Three toilets, two tub/shower combos, three vanities, two closets, floors, windows, baseboard, etc.  She paid me $100 and it took me about two hours.  That was for JUST the bathrooms, and these were tidy people, so there really wasn't any hard scrubbing or problem areas. 

I don't think $200 is enough for a whole house unless it's a small house.

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Does deep cleaning include blinds? I paid $200 for < 800 sqft, did not include blinds, did include window sills, did not include fireplace. Property located in high COL. And didn't include removing smoke odor.

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1 hour ago, LVG said:

A friend that’s a real estate agent asked me to give her a quote on cleaning a clients house that is prepping to be put on the market.  I assume a deep cleaning (baseboards, wiping cabinets, etc). One thing she also mentioned is that these people smoke in one of the rooms and will need to have the walls cleaned.  I live in NC.  What do you feel is a reasonable price to charge?  I’ve looked up numbers online, but still not sure what to really charge considering this is a side job, and I’m not a professional or licensed company.  What would you charge?

A friend told me that when in doubt, charge your Day Rate.  Calculate your monthly expenses and divide by 30.  If you "buy" a person for a whole day, they should be able to live off those wages.  It it's a half day situation, you can calculate that way.  However, if the reality is that you're only going to book one of these jobs that day then find your day rate. You CAN go higher if the market allows it, but if you go lower you are subsidizing what is a luxury service for your client.

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The room where they smoke may well need to have the walls painted with kilz to block the scent.

Our neighbors did four coats of kilz, in other rooms,  and ripped out sheetrock in the rooms where they did smoke.  All carpet was replaced.  They also ripped out the kitchen cabinets. 

 

I would strongly suggest an hourly rate.

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If they think washing the walls will kill the smoke smell, I'd walk away.  And I would never give a quote without actually looking at the job in question.  I would give an hourly rate, but not a quote for the entire job.  

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5 hours ago, arctic_bunny said:

The government of Canada has a relocation allowance of $200 for cleaning. I would say that is low....

That is after I’ve already cleaned bathrooms pre-move day. And as they finish a room, I do windows, window sills, closet shelves, cupboards, and light fixtures as time allows. And I’m not selling, just renting.

I think the idea of figuring out your daily rate is a good one. Keep in mind what hard work deep cleaning is!

Edited by arctic_bunny

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When we have renters in, it always takes me a couple of days to really clean (1500 square foot houses.)  I also think $200 is low.

The smoke won't come out with washing.  We moved into a house that had been repainted after smokers and it smelled like smoke the whole 18 months we lived there.  Don't even say you'll try.  Say you'll wash the walls, but won't promise smell removal.

I would also make sure I  saw the house.  You have no idea the state of the oven or fridge, for instance and those can take a long time.  As can even cleanish shower stalls.

Ugh, I think we have a tenant moving out at the end of the month. I am so not looking forward to it.

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$200 is too low. You need to charge more for a deep clean. I agree with PPs that you need to tell her that you can clean the smoke room, but that the smell will NOT come out. She needs to know that it just won’t and that you’re not responsible. If she needs you to clean the walls so they’re ready for some kilz and fresh paint, then that’s fine. 

Also, there’s a big difference in deep cleaning a house that has been regularly cleaned and one that hasn’t, so I agree that you should take a look at it if you can. 

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I have never paid for cleaning services but have cleaned five houses of my own before putting them on the market and after moving out. It was hours and hours, more than a full day of constant work. I agree to charge by the hour and give them an estimate of hours after you look at it, and make your estimated hours longer than you anticipate.

I also agree that you won't be able to remove the smoke smell. We looked at a rental where there had been smokers. Very light, almost non-existent smell in the house, but my clothes reeked for hours afterwards. It clung to my clothes and hair just from walking through the house for 20 minutes. My kids asked me why I smelled, hours later. Getting smoke smell out is practically impossible. I would not even offer to try. You can say you will wash the walls but don't expect it to change the smell.

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My friend hired a move out cleaner recently, we are in a rather low cost of living place, and they charged her $550. 

She has no children or pets, and her house was very very clean. 

I’ve never hired anyone to do a move out clean for me, but I have done my own many many times. It is long hours of tough work touching every surface in the house. I felt like my last one was worth at least $500. (And I think I keep a fairly clean house)

i don’t know the right amount, but don’t undercharge. You will regret it!!

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I would also agree with hourly.  My friend is a professional organizer and charges between $35-$45 per hour.  She charged me between $20-$25.  It took her 40 hours total to finish my house.  I was SO THANKFUL!

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The lady cleaning my dad's 2 bedroom apartment twice a month gets $70 a visit.  She is probably there 2 hours and his place isn't super messy.  That is the going rate around here it seems.  At his single family home, he had 3 ladies cleaning at once (took about 2 hours) and they got $125 for each visit.

Just so you have some comparisons.

ETA:  This is not for deep cleaning.  I did that when he moved in.  This is for general cleaning on a regular basis.

Edited by mlktwins

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Would you be providing the cleaning products yourself? If so, don't forget to add that into your price.

I agree that $200 is way, way too low for that size of a job.

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9 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

The room where they smoke may well need to have the walls painted with kilz to block the scent.

Our neighbors did four coats of kilz, in other rooms,  and ripped out sheetrock in the rooms where they did smoke.  All carpet was replaced.  They also ripped out the kitchen cabinets. 

 

I would strongly suggest an hourly rate.


Yes. It will take mild to major reno to eliminate smoke smell.

Once you smoke in any room of your house, the entire house will smell like smoke, it just may not be as strong in some rooms.  That house is going to need a kilz/repaint/recarpet at a minimum.

Nicotine sticks to everything. $200 is way too low. I would give a high hourly rate l(like $45/hour) and warn them it will take several hours for the deep clean.

 

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just wanted to say - dd and I looked at a 'cat' house.   only mention because cat smell's are another one that get into everything and it's a major job to get it out.  the house was immaculate... I'm not that allergic - I had to go outside because I couldn't breathe.

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I would say $500 just for the cleaning. The smoke issue would really depend. It could take 10+ man hour and a lot more equipment to deal with that. 

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Thinking about it, I wouldn’t commit to getting the smoke smell out. That can be someone else’s problem. If they want to walls washed, I would calculated in a once over and beyond that they might have to hire a smoke abatement company. 

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It depends on how deep the cleaning is.  For just a general house cleaning, we've paid between $100 and $150 for the entire house.  Once, we needed to hire someone to clean absolutely everything.  Every inch.  That included floor to ceiling, washing every curtain and cleaning all the blinds, vents, appliances inside and out, windows, inside cupboards and drawers and you name it.  Everything.  We paid around $1,000.  She had put many, many hours into it.

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You need to go to the house first. I think $200 is a good starting point, and then I might add on an extra for the room with smoke. Are you cleaning the carpets or are they arranging for that?

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