People of all ages and from all walks of life can be hoarders, and the problem often worsens with age. Hoarding becomes a compulsive driven way of life where one is not able to control the impulse to keep even the most mundane items including receipts from 30 years gone by. Severe hoarding is often a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which afflicts as many as 3% of Americans at some point in their lives. It can also be a tell tale sign of other mental disorders that include depression, delusional disorder and dementia. TLC (The Learning Channel) features a show on hoarders that spotlights this growing problem in America. Hoarding poses many challenges to a property restoration contractor. Challenges include increased labor costs and decreased job efficiency and employee safety.” Additionally, insurance claims costs are increased when the client is forced to live away from home and they expect to recoup coverage for content items which have little or no value on paper.

Jim Dunphy from Carrara Construction, Restoration and Cleaning stated, “Hoarding is a real problem and affects service at all stages of the restoration and reconstruction process.” Jim said, “When hoarding is an issue, the restoration contractor plays a critical role in the process where our goal is simple – to get the client back into their home as quickly as possible.” Job success is often determined by how quickly we can assist the hoarding client in choosing what they have that is worthy of restoration, cleaning and discarding. This process can prove difficult for a hoarder restoration client.

Signs of Hoarding:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Storing broken appliances & electronics
  • Excessive amounts of old magazines and newspapers
  • Old clothes no longer worn
  • Junk Drawers in every room
  • Every room becomes storage
  • Your car becomes a closet
  • Your daily life is impacted

Hoarding Recovery Tips

  • Identify the type of hoarding behavior
  • Acknowledge the need to control your environment and develop healthy ways to do that
  • Set specific goals and expectations for recovery
  • Develop ‘One Touch Approach’
  • Enlist help of family & friends
  • Commitment to change and personal good health
  • Consider professional mental health assistance

Hoarding cases emerge via the media when authorities uncover homes filled with animals, newspapers, garbage and piles of possessions that cover every available surface. These conditions often render the homes uninhabitable and require a professional approach. The hoarding client should be treated with respect and compassion with emphasis on a non-judgmental approach. Hoarding clean-up projects improves success when a close family member (son-daughter-sibling) agrees to participate in the execution of the hoarding clean-up. Ultimately, the client must be committed to personal change for long term success to recover from hoarding behavior.