10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service

10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service. What you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home! Ever hire a home cleaning service? Have you been disappointed with the results? Or, would you like to get a little more out of the cleaning service that comes to your home? Here are 10 tips for hiring a house cleaning service that I have learned over the years.

I have had multiple cleaning services for well over 10 years now, at home in New York and in our other residences in Utah and Florida. I have learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of hiring a cleaning service, and what to expect once you have hired one. These are my tips on what you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home!

10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service

What you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home!

Ever hire a home cleaning service? Have you been disappointed with the results? Or, would you like to get a little more out of the cleaning service that comes to your home? Here are 10 tips for hiring a house cleaning service that I have learned over the years:

Interview more than one potential service. If you are interviewing individuals, you need to be comfortable with that person (people). If you are hiring from a large company, ask if they will send the same person consistently, or if they rotate staff. There are pros and cons to both: the same person is familiar with your house, but I have noticed the longer the same person cleans for me, the more places that should be cleaned, are missed. The downside to a new crew weekly: there is a learning curve that I am paying for as they familiarize themselves with my home.

Make certain the individual or agency (and their employees) are licensed and insured. If they break something, will it be replaced? Repaired? If someone if hurt in your home, who will pay the medical bills?

Define the scope. Are you looking for a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or a one-time clean. Make certain that everything you want done, will be done. If the cleaning crew needs to use a stepladder to get to the top shelf and dust, are they willing to do so? Will your furniture and lampshades regularly be vacuumed? What about under cushions? Is cleaning out the refrigerator extra? Are baseboards regularly dusted? Door and window casements? Will the dog-snot be washed from the front door? Are nicknacks dusted? How much to clean a finished-basement? How is the kitchen floor washed? Mop or hands and knees? Ask about OSHA restrictions. I once had a cleaning service tell me it was against OSHA rules for them to use ammonia in my house.

Make sure pricing is explicit! If you are hiring an agency, make certain that there are no hidden fees. If you are hiring an individual, make certain they are paying their taxes and social security. Definitely consult an accountant to make certain you are not hiring that person as an employee, but as an independent contractor. The tax implications for you of one versus the other are great, so make certain your accountant fully explains the ramifications of hiring an individual to you.

Don’t forget to inform the agency/individual of any pets you may have for allergy and phobia considerations. You may think a white rat allowed to roam loose about the house is perfectly normal. The house cleaner may freak and beat Whitey with a broom. The cleaning service may also schedule more time for a dog that sheds copious amounts of fur, may not be willing to change the litter box or the lining of a bird cage. Or, those services may come with an additional cost.

Who supplies the cleaning products? I have steered away from the ultra green companies that will not use a swiffer on my furniture, but would rather spray everything down and wipe away the dust. Regardless of how gentle, I don’t want anything sprayed on my furnishings. And, while vinegar may be an excellent cleaner, it will destroy my marble floor. I have found very few products that don’t leave streaks on my stainless steel appliances, so I want to be certain that the cleaning company is happy to use some/all of my products.

Discuss with the service how many people will be coming to your home. You have cleaned your house and know how long (or short) it takes to clean. If it takes 6 hours for you to clean, do not expect a cleaning service to be able to accomplish the same task in 4 man-hours. I prefer one person in my house for every 2 man-hours of labor. I truly do not want a cleaning service here all day, and cleaning is hard work! That means one person will take longer to clean your 6 man-hour house than 3 people at 2 hours each. Fatigue sets in and people slow down. Not only that, but do you really want one house cleaner in your home all day long?

Decide if you need to be home when the cleaning is conducted. Most companies/individuals give an arrival time-frame. Only first service of the day will be “on time”. If you expect a service “between 10 and 12”, and then they clean for the next 2 hours, you need to block out that time to be home. However, if you are willing to give a service a key to your house (or a code if you have coded locks and security system), you are not tied to the house during that time-frame.

Do not clean your house before the cleaning service arrives. Believe me, you will not be the messiest/dirtiest/most disgusting house a seasoned house cleaner has ever seen, especially if they do trash-outs.

Do pick-up and put away the clutter. The more surfaces that are clear of clutter the better the job in the shortest possible time the cleaners can perform. Moving clutter takes time, and some agencies will not do it. I cannot stress the importance of: put away your junk! Also, don’t forget to put away jewelry, prescription medications and cash. Yes, you have checked for licensing and bonding, but better safe than tempted. I have never had a cleaning person snoop or take anything. Ever. But, there is always a first time.

Do you have any tips for hiring a house cleaning service?

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Ask Hubby!

Ask Hubby

This is the only Ask Hubby I could recover to date from Coupons, Deals and More. If I am able to gather more, I will post them. Otherwise, next week I will begin new Ask Hubby questions and answers!

Terri asks:

Dear Hubby,
I am updating my estate planning and am trying to be organized. Got the living trust done, have the titles and deeds in the name of the trust, etc. So when the beneficiaries receive this property, I’m presuming that if all this is done beforehand, they WON’T have to go thru probate? If my executor sells the real estate before distribution to the beneficiaries, who’s responsible for the taxes on any capital gains…the executor? the beneficiaries? Or would this fall under the gifting rule and be exempt from all tax liability as long as it doesn’t exceed $650K (I think that’s the new limit but I could be wrong)? How do you suggest handling this to minimize any financial impacts to the executor and beneficiaries?

Hubby’s response:

Hi Terri,

I love stuff like this. Unfortunately, I fear that not many people feel the way that I do.

In all seriousness, you’ve done great to have done as much estate planning as you have already. While I have a working knowledge of these things, I must strongly encourage you to speak to the lawyer that set up the trust regarding your questions. If you don’t have, or didn’t use, a lawyer with expertise in estate planning, you should get one. With that caveat, I will address your questions with what little knowledge I have on the subject.

If everything is set up correctly, there will be no need for probate. Note, however, that in addition to having a trust to which you have transferred all of your major assets, you need to have a pour-over will that says that any of your assets that were not put into the trust, get put into your trust at your death.

Regarding your second question, if the trustee (executor is a non sequitur in the context of trusts) sells an asset, it is the responsibility of the trust, as a distinct ownership entity (and to some degree, taxable entity) to pay any capital gain taxes. Upon the death of the settlor of the trust, there is a step up in basis to current market value, so there should be little or no gain to worry about.

Regarding gift taxes, I can’t really comment as that varies by state. Note that there are also estate taxes to worry about. As excerpted from Tax Consequences of an Inheritance from an Irrevocable Trust:

When contemplating the tax consequences of an inheritance from an irrevocable trust (A revocable trust becomes irrevocable at the settlor’s death), it is helpful to understand the difference between inheritance tax and estate tax. In some states, inheritance taxes are imposed on beneficiaries of an estate but are only assessed on the inherited portion. Estate tax is imposed on all residents and citizens of the U.S. by the federal government and is based on the entire estate’s fair market value. Estate tax is assessed prior to distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.

I do know there are ways to structure the trust to minimize estate taxes by splitting the trust up into two trusts to maximize the benefit of the spouse exemption for estate taxes. Hopefully that was already contemplated when the trust was first set up.

Kudos to you for focusing on getting your estate planning ducks in a row. With the help of a lawyer with the proper expertise, you can get this all done. Notwithstanding the constant changes in tax law, these issues are nothing new for estate planning professionals. Good luck, and thanks for writing to Ask Hubby.

Disclaimer: This information is not to be considered legal or financial advice. It is for discussion purposes only.

And there you have it folks, this week’s installment of Ask Hubby.

A few things:

1) The disclaimer. Gotta have it because he isn’t an attorney or your financial adviser and he isn’t dispensing legal or financial advice, just giving his opinion.
2) Hubby is willing to give his opinions and answers on a wide variety of subjects listed here. That post also explains his background.
3) If you would like to submit a question to Ask Hubby you can email here and make the subject title “Ask Hubby”, or use the contact page, same subject line.
4) You can use your name or be anonymous. Either works.

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Spring Cleaning, Anyone?

Spring Cleaning, Anyone?

For those of you in the deep south, the question of “Spring Cleaning, Anyone?” may seem a little late this year – after all, it is the second week in April, spring cleaning should be finished, right? For those of us up north – where it finally started to break 50º this week – the question seems almost premature.

If you do a thorough spring cleaning on your house, what exactly do you do? All the rooms? Do you wash the walls? Or just dust them? I’m not sure how many people still have coal furnaces and need to wash their walls, but old habits sometimes diehard. Clean the carpets? Take apart the chandelier and other lighting for a complete wash? Clean out the basement, attic and garage?

I have a bit of a spring-renovation/redecorating bug myself, but not really a spring cleaning impulse. I do not wash my walls, and the only walls in this house that really need dusting are the ones in the family room and Hubby’s office. They are textured paneling of a sort, and the crevices can accumulate dust. I’ve never really noticed dusty walls in this house otherwise, not even when sunlight hits “a certain way”.

As far as our floors go: the rug in our bedroom should be cleaned. We have a rug cleaner, and it resides in an upstairs closet, so there really is no excuse to not get this done. Darn it.

The upstairs hall carpeting, and the carpeting in Sonny-boy’s old room is being ripped out and replaced (oh the pictures this will bring! You have to see what that rug looks like to believe it!). I want Sonny-boy to come box up/giveaway the remains in his closet and dresser and then I can move along with that project.

I convinced Hubby to shovel out the basement in January. We accomplished quite a bit, but there is at least another six hours of organizing left. I think this is really our one spring cleaning project!

I plan on hiring someone to come clean our outside windows. Not only am I a horrible window washer (I leave streaks no matter what I use, regardless of the time of day I wash), but there is no way I will get up on a ladder to do the second floor. I could get Hubby on the ladder, but window washing is too much like housework for him to consider doing it. Not happening.

So, we do have three spring cleaning jobs on my list: basement, carpet in master bedroom and window washing. I should be able to tackle those by the end of the month – Hubby willing.

Spring Cleaning, Anyone? Any tips, ideas or solutions for accomplishing spring cleaning quickly and well?

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