Hand-Processed Hoarder Estate

Organizing estates that involve hoarding is one of our specialties at Kuzak’s Closet.  I personally love the opportunity to hand-process an overwhelming lifetime collection for the client, dig for items on their wishlist, and uncover treasures that they may have not know were there all along.

For this project, our client’s mother struggled with a hoarding issue in the later years of her life.  She had a love for antique furniture but fell short when it came to keeping up with her house and her collection, allowing for rats to take over.  Her son hired us to take on the challenge of emptying the estate after weighing our bid again the alternative (muscles and dumpsters), and I’m so glad he did.

Our goals for the project were:

  • Empty the estate over the course of 3 days, three bedrooms, office, 2 car garage, back yard, and hot tub removal
  • Hand-process the estate: identify and organize personal paperwork, photos, cash, and items on the client’s wishlist which included a leather bomber jacket and an updated will.
  • Remove obvious trash without the use of a dumpster, process donations, sell items of value on @shopkuzakscloset

Because of the rat situation I opted for us to wear protective work suits.  It’s nice to be able to peel the day off and not take it home with you if you know what I mean!

Billy in a bunny suit always cracks me up!

We started out by clearing the living room so that we could create a staging zone for found items for the client as well as an area for @shopkuzakscloset items to live until pickup time.

We started at 8am and by 9:30am we made major progress. As you as see the rat confetti was everywhere, those little guys sure had a party at this estate!

We always vacuum at the end of each project, even when we know the carpet will be removed the day after we are done.  You may think it’s a waste of time but it’s actually the final pass where small bits like keys, jewerly, and coins pop up.


As we made process in the living room we branched out into the kitchen, family room, and bedrooms.  Before…



Family room before…

Family room after…

Bedroom before…

Bedroom after…

Office before…

I didn’t take as many “progress” shots as I had hoped on this one but that just means I was having too much fun digging, sorting, and hauling.

Office progress…

Office after…

The before photos can go on and on.  It’s really interesting to process estates in this condition.  Part of the process is to understand what the tipping point was for the client, common triggers are death of a child, death of a parent, job loss, injury or disability, and divorce.  For some hoarders it is a single trigger, for others it’s a domino effect of multiple triggers.  For this project, there were signs of a domino effect that led to this outcome.

The one thing that is common with hoarders is their sense of humor when it comes to their hoard.

We were able to process 90% of the house on day one putting our focus on the backyard and garage on day two.  The garage was a beast of it’s own which I why I didn’t schedule it until day two.  It’s important to strategize with project like this so that the team can maintain the focus on looking for important documents and items of value and also feel the momentum of accomplishment as zones are completed.

It was no surprise that the garage door wouldn’t open with all of the “stuff” behind it.  Kevin had to climb through the piles and manually lift it.  When the door opened up the garage literally exploded onto the driveway.

So much stuff! I’m sure by now you are wondering how on earth there could be anything to sell out of this estate?

We actually uncovered quite a few items that we were able to clean up and post on @shopkuzakscloset.  It’s a bonus to sell items from estate like this to save items from heading to the landfill and also to help offset the client’s bill for our service.  Profits are credited towards the bill.

This is a screen shot of a handful of items that we were able to sell.  It’s pretty amazing that these treasures were buried under all of the clutter.

This antique kitchen stove was one of my favorite finds.  It was buried in the garage and once if was polished up it sold in less than a minute on @shopkuzakscloset. What a beauty!

The garage was quite beastly with a major triage needed (donation, trash, recycling, metal recycling, @shopkuzakscloset) and we got through it.

With all of the trash this estate produced it’s amazing that we were able to process all of it without the use of a dumpster.  I prefer not to use them because of liability and respect for the client.  There is something so much more private and respectful when you see our box truck backed up to a garage vs. a dumpster.  From the street it’s not obvious what we are loading and it blocks the view of the house from the street.

Seeing the empty garage at the end of day two was such a beautiful sight! We ended up only needing to come back on day three to meet the metal recycler, easy peasy!

At the end of the service we left a single table for our client to review during his next visit to the area. The categories on the table include photos, memorabilia, coins and cash, wishlist items for the family, medication, extra keys, and personal paperwork.

Since our liquidation process was completed, the client was able to come back to pick up the items that he wanted out of the pile we collected for him.  The items he didn’t want to keep were discarded and the house was able to go be transformed by the real estate team and put on the market during our hot spring market and is currently is escrow.

It’s fun to see the projects come full circle.  What a complete transformation!

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