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How to Rent a Dumpster or Container for Home Renovation Demolition

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Photo of Ten Yard Container

A Ten Yarder Container

Photo Courtesy RolloffsUSA; Copyright Rolloffs USA
When demolishing or tearing out rooms before renovating, it's essential to have a place to put all the waste. You can pile it all in your backyard and hope it goes away by itself. You can hire a hauling company at premium prices to do it for you. Or you can haul it all out to the landfill by yourself.

The best option is to rent a container. You typically see containers--also known as rolloffs or dumpsters--near construction sites. But how does a regular homeowner go about renting a container?

Container Companies Typically Deal With Professionals--Know the Lingo

Since container companies usually deal with contractors, they may get impatient with a homeowner who doesn't know the terminology or the ins and outs of renting a rolloff. "Container" and "rolloff" are both acceptable terms for these large metal boxes, "dumpter" less so. Containers are rented in standard cubic yard sizes. Instead of saying "cubic yards," though, you're probably better off saying "yard" or "yarder." For example, if you were renting a 40 cubic yard container, you'd say you want to rent a "forty yarder."

Check with Proper Authorities if It's Going on the Street

Your local parking enforcement office or building permit office can give you information about permits needed if you're putting the container on the street. This is a real concern, and you definitely need to clear this up. If you have room to place it on your own property, you won't have these worries.

If you live on a street with a neighborhood association, it is almost certain that the provisions of the homeowner's association contract do not allow for a rolloff. Exemptions may be available by appearing before the association's board.

Clear Space in Front of the Container

Whether the container is going on the street or your property, the truck dropping off and picking up the container needs room to maneuver. I have bought several serious-looking traffic cones to reserve space in front of my container on the street. There's nothing worse than being at work and having an irate truck driver call because he can't back in. More likely, the rolloff simply won't get picked up. At best, you'll just be delayed several days. At worst, the container company may charge you for the drive-by.

Rent the Right Size Container for the Job

You will almost certainly need a container one size bigger than you think you need. Carpeting, scrap wood, drywall--all of these waste products take up volume. Concrete, rock, and dirt are more weight than volume, and usually you can only fill the container quarter full (verify this with your rental company). Finally, containers of similar volume may come in different dimensions. One dimension that you want to ask the rental company about is height. It's hard to heft weighty materials over the side of a high container, so ask if you can get a lower container.
  • 10 Cubic Yard Container. Imagine a metal box twelve feet long, eight feet wide, and four feet high. That's a ten yarder. It won't get you very far. If you're tearing out a small bathroom, the ten yarder might be right for you.
  • 20 Cubic Yard Container. Twenty-two feet long, eight feet wide, four and a half feet high. This is about the minimum size container you should ever get. This would accomodate the waste from a small bathroom without cramming and crushing.
  • 30 Cubic Yard Container. The thirty yarder is the optimal size. This fits in front of most house without too much complaint from neighbors. You can fit carpeting, drywall, and wood in a thirty yarder without too much trouble. Also, if you're disposing of concrete or rock, you'll need a larger container since you can't fill the container up very high.
  • 40 Cubic Yard Container. The forty yarder is a monster rolloff meant for real renovation work. I like it because I hate having to cram the waste materials in. Imagine a metal box with the same length and width as the other containers, but a full eight feet high. That's a forty yarder, and it will serve most of your needs.
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