Construction projects usually run on a tight schedule. So most construction sites have multiple sub-contractors working at the same time. Ideally, the building’s owner or general contractor should hold each sub-contractor accountable for cleanup. In practice, it’s nearly impossible to determine whose mess is whose.
That’s why in many cases one of the contractors is a construction cleaning company that takes on removing trash after each building crew during and after the construction work.
If you are considering starting a post construction cleaning business or you have a small commercial property and want to save on hiring a company, the following tips on how to do post-construction deep cleaning provide a road map for putting your place in order.
Cleaning a Property After a Construction or Renovation Project in 4 Steps
What Is Commercial Post-Construction Cleaning and what Does It Include?
Commercial post-construction cleaning means putting a commercial property into appropriate condition for occupation and use after a construction, remodeling, or renovation project.
Most often it’s performed by janitorial companies for commercial property owners who are going to start using the building. As advised by Property Cashin in their guide to selling a commercial property, it’s also an important step in preparing a building to advertising and showings.
Thorough post construction cleaning often times helps property owners to significantly increase their property’s value, which is why post construction cleaning is one of the integral pre-selling activities every real estate professional follows.
The post-construction cleaning requirements include:
Having the right cleaning equipment and supplies
- Removing any large debris
- Disposing of any hazardous waste
- Cleaning up the building’s interior
- Cleaning up the exterior of the building
Cleaning Equipment and Supplies
The tools required for cleaning depend on the scope of the job.
Larger jobs might require:
- A large dumpster
- A backhoe
- A scissor lift
- A floor scrubber, buffer, and sweeper
- A high-pressure washer
- An ultrasonic cleaner
- A carpet extractor & steam cleaner
For smaller jobs the equipment is the same as is required for deep cleaning a house.
A completed office or commercial building can have finished wood, tile, glass, and the like. Make sure to have the proper chemical on hand for cleaning each type of exposed surface.
Especially floors and carpets require a wide range of janitorial supplies such as a floor stripper, rug pre-sprays, deodorizers, and detergents.
4-Step Post-Construction Cleaning Checklist for a Commercial Building
1. Debris Removal
The debris that needs to be removed from the site can be:
- Hazardous waste.
- Non-hazardous waste.
Check with the dumpster (roll-off) provider to determine what types of construction debris are not accepted at the landfill. As an example, open paint cans with dried paint are generally acceptable while any undried coatings are treated as hazardous waste.
A backhoe can significantly decrease the amount of time needed for the cleanup of exterior debris. A tilting dump waste cart is a convenient way of getting interior waste outside and into the backhoe bucket.
2. Disposal of Hazardous Waste
The most important consideration when cleaning up hazardous waste is the current safety of the cleanup personnel and the future safety of the building’s occupants. Make sure that all cleanup personnel use approved safety equipment at all times. Equally important, ensure that no hazardous material is left behind to endanger the health of future occupants.
Each type of hazardous waste can have different means of disposal. For instance, asbestos (properly contained) can be buried in some landfills, whereas hazardous liquids are usually incinerated. Contact your local DNR (Department of Natural Resources) for the right disposal facility.
3. Post-Construction Interior Cleaning
Cleaning up Construction Dust
Construction dust consists of, but is not limited to:
- Asbestos fibers
- Metal filings
- Drywall dust
- Cement products
While sawdust is not as hazardous as asbestos fibers, protect the cleanup crew from any type of dust.
When dust cleaning, having the wrong filter on vacuum equipment is a commonly overlooked problem. For example, the typical shop vacuum bag will not filter out drywall dust. So instead of removing drywall dust, it recirculates the dirty air throughout the building.
For the health of building occupants, clean the HVAC ducts as a part of the deep clean of the interior. Even if the building had temporary heating during construction, dust still accumulates in the ductwork.
Make sure to clean the dust that has settled on ceiling light panels in suspended ceilings. Otherwise, a layer of dirt can reduce the lumen output of lighting fixtures.
David, a professional cleaner from Quick Response Janitorial Services in Houston TX shares his expertise: “Thoroughly vacuum carpets, so stains or paint are easily visible. Solvents can be used to remove paint or stain (test first in a closet or corner to make sure no carpet dye transfers to a clean, white cloth). Coarse sandpaper can also be used to remove dried paint if care is taken to avoid the fuzzing of the carpet. As a last resort, trim off the carpet fibers that hold the paint.”
Construction debris attached to tile floors can be removed safely with razor blade scrapers and most solvents. The tile sub-contractor should be contacted to fix any stains in the grout lines.
Composite flooring and wooden flooring can be buffed and waxed per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Walls and Ceilings
The finish on the panels in suspended ceilings is fragile. So it’s best to avoid contact—other than a light dusting. If a panel has noticeable dirt or paint, replace it rather than try to clean it.
Painted walls can be dry-mopped or gently cleaned with a damp cloth. But cleaning painted surfaces with any abrasive product, even a non-aggressive product like a Magic Sponge, is risky. A noticeable difference in the sheen on the wall can result—depending on the lighting conditions. It is best to contact the painting contractor for any stubborn stains.
For other types of wall coverings, contact the manufacturer or supplier for cleaning instructions.
For the best window cleaning tips, observe professional window washers at work. Their standard tools and supplies include a:
- Bucket of water with a small amount of dish soap.
- T-bar and sleeve.
- Short step ladder.
First of all, remove any unwanted paint or mortar with a razor blade scraper (replace blades often to help avoid scratching the glass). Secondly, mop the window until the dirt is dissolved. Finally, squeegee the soap, dirt, and water mixture from the glass. Wipe up excess water with a towel.
To avoid damaging the finish on any wood windows, clean the glass with a commercial glass cleaner and dry with paper towels or newspapers.
If vacuuming and wiping down doesn’t clean a stained door:
- Remove latex paint with hot water and a rag.
- Remove solvent-based coatings with mineral spirits.
- Gently knock down masonry deposits with a plastic scraper and clean with hot water and a cloth.
- Where necessary, buff with 0000 steel wool to blend cleaned areas.
The painting contractor must usually touch up areas of unwanted paint on painted doors. But masonry can generally be removed in the same way as on a stained door.
Vents are difficult to clean without removing them from the wall, floor, or ceiling.
If a vent cover cannot be easily removed, first remove as much dirt as possible with a vacuum cleaner. Then wipe down the vent with a lightly dampened sponge. Special brushes are available that can make the job easier.
Use as little water as possible when cleaning an installed vent. Otherwise, the water and dirt form a brown stain that will penetrate ceiling and wall surfaces.
In soapy water or an ultrasonic cleaner, clean vent covers that can be easily removed.
Please note: Wall vents bend easily. When re-installing wall vents, make sure they conform to the surface of the wall.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
Newly constructed bathrooms and kitchens are likely to have residue from the supplies used by plumbing contractors—such as various adhesives, solvents, and caulking materials. For the safety of the building’s occupants, a thorough cleaning is necessary.
Warning! Gloves should be worn throughout the cleaning process. Remember that bleach and ammonia produce chlorine gas, which can be lethal in an enclosed area.
After removing unwanted paint and mortar with a razor blade scraper, vacuum all surfaces.
Wipe down painted and stained surfaces with a damp cloth.
Clean the appliances, counters, and plumbing fixtures with hot soapy water. Rinse and let dry.
Spray all surfaces with a light mist of a commercial disinfectant or a diluted bleach solution. Let air dry.
4. Post-Construction Exterior Cleaning
Go over the grounds of the job site with a magnetic sweeper to pick up any nails or screws.
Clean the exterior windows in the same way as the interior windows. In a multi-story building, rent lift equipment (such as a scissor lift or boom truck) to keep cleaning personnel safe while working. Do not clean windows from an extension ladder.
Since exterior doors on a commercial building are rarely made of wood, pressure wash non-wood doors under low pressure. Any glass in the exterior doors can be cleaned with the same tools and supplies as the windows.
Power wash any driveways, sidewalks, and entrances to the building. Use water and bleach or detergent, let it sit for 20 minutes and then thoroughly scrub the area with a brush to achieve the best result. Follow these and other tips from the article about concrete cleaning on YouthfulHome.com to properly clean concrete driveways from stains.
To add the finishing touch, clean all the glass in the exterior light fixtures, as well as the fixtures themselves.