How much to charge for junk removal

Figure out how much your business should charge for junk removal.

Let’s be honest: junk removal is an underrated service. There’s nothing worse than having a pile of junk on your property as it takes a lot of time and effort to move it. Thankfully, junk removal companies exist providing services to make this process easier.

However, it’s difficult for businesses to decide how much to charge for junk removal because there are so many variables involved, and always a little guesswork.

This guide will give you a thorough understanding of how to figure out how much your business should charge for junk removal.

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How to calculate debris removal costs

Whether you’re dealing with a customer who’s moving and trying to get rid of old furniture, or a construction company that’s just cleaned up the debris from their new build, you need to be able to price your junk removal jobs right.

Based on our observations, on average, junk removal businesses charge $70 – 570, with most jobs costing between $150 and $350. After putting it to the test, if you measure by square footage, the average cost comes out to about $1.50 per square foot.

However, these are just averages, and drawing from our experience, you may find that your need to charge more or less than another junk business in your area.

There are several ways that you can charge for junk removal services, including by:

  • Type of junk.
  • Volume.
  • Truckload.
  • Weight.

Our research indicates that charging by the truckload is the most popular pricing method, but charging by weight is also a common option.

If you do choose to charge per truckload, it is important to establish a minimum load for your business to ensure that every job is worthwhile. Depending on the size of the truck, most junk removal companies set this minimum of 60 cubic feet.

Our findings show that the national average for junk hauling services is $234 per load.

Think about whether a job where your customer only wants one item removed, such as an old carpet, is worth the cost. Through our practical knowledge, your business may stand to lose revenue if you are continuously doing one item jobs.

Let’s take a look at other factors that will influence the way you price your junk removal services.

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Factor #1: Size of the load

Large blue garbage bin with plywood in it at a construction site.

Image credit: Ungvar via AdobeStock

As per our expertise, the size of the load will be your first indicator of how much to charge for junk removal.

Determining the volume of junk to be removed will help you estimate the total weight and how many loads will be required to haul away all of the junk.

Assessing the weight of the junk to be removed will also affect the load size and help you determine how much to charge, but you should prioritize exact weight when you calculate your estimate.

Factor #2: Weight of the debris

Large blue garbage bin at a construction site

Image credit: Ungvar via AdobeStock

Unfortunately, there’s no exact science when it comes to judging how many loads it takes to clear a pile of junk, and unless you have a scale in your truck, predicting the weight of a load is also difficult.

After putting it to the test, you may end up having to eyeball jobs as best as you can, based on past jobs and the estimated weight of certain items.

Our investigation demonstrated that many junk removal professionals develop these estimating skills early on in their careers and eventually get it right every time.

However, it takes time and experience to develop these skills, and you may end up over or underestimating the weight of a pile on your first few jobs.

The good news is that an estimate template can help you rely less on guesswork and more on calculation for your final estimate.

If you choose to charge by weight, multiply the estimated weight of a load by your rate per pound.

If you choose to charge by truckload, multiply the estimated number of truckloads by your rate per load.

Factor #3: Location of the junk

When deciding how much to charge for junk removal, ask yourself: Will everything be in a pile on the front lawn waiting for you, or will you have to go inside your customer’s house and gather items from different floors?

Drawing from our experience, both of these scenarios require different amounts of labor and time commitments, and factoring in labor costs for the duration of the job results in a different price.

The easiest jobs are the ones where the items for removal are already laid out on the lawn, ready for you to pick up. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible for your customer to do.

The less accessible the items are, the more work required to transport them to your truck, and the more you should charge for your services.

You can mention to your customer the benefits of having junk already outside, such as a lower price or saving their new carpet from boot marks. Still, as a junk removal business, you should always be prepared with proper labor and equipment to complete the job.

Factor #4: Mileage and travel

When figuring out how much to charge for junk removal, make sure you’re adjusting pricing based on the distance traveled to the job site.

This distance will affect:

  • The time needed to transport items.
  • Mileage on your truck.
  • Gas.
  • Employee hours.

Naturally, the further the distance between the pickup location and the disposal facility, the more you need to charge.

Factor #5: Gather your team

Once you have a good idea of how much work is needed to complete a junk hauling job, you can plan your biggest expense: labor.

Through our practical knowledge, generally, the number of workers you need for a job depends on how many items need to be hauled.

For most jobs, you’ll need a minimum of two workers, but this number can go up if it’s a job with several truckloads or with heavy items that need to be transported. You can factor labor into your final price or you can display it as a line item in your estimate.

Calculate your labor hours by multiplying the number of hours it will take to complete a job by the number of employees required.

Number of hours x number of employees = labor hours

Then, calculate your total labor rate by adding the hourly rate of each employee. From there, add a 20% markup to cover expenses such as taxes and insurance.

Finally, multiply your labor hours by your labor rate for your total labor costs.

Labor hours x labor rate = total labor cost

Factor #6: Don’t forget taxes

Never forget to add taxes when calculating the cost of your junk removal services. If your workers are employees, make sure to factor in payroll taxes.

Factor #7: Figure out your profit

To figure out your profit margin, calculate your net sales revenue and subtract all of your expenses, including:

  • Labor.
  • Material (if applicable).
  • Overhead.

Remember, the higher the profit, the more revenue for your business.

If you aren’t happy with the profit after you do your calculations, make a few adjustments and do the math again. You may be able to raise your prices, but be sure that your rates remain competitive and fair.

Junk removal industry statistics

The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” certainly applies to the junk industry.

Our research indicates that junk removal is a $10 billion industry, thanks in large part to the rise of the Internet which enabled junk haulers to easily connect with people wanting to dispose of their trash.

Job opportunities as a junk remover in America are plentiful, as well. The United States is the #1 trash producer in the world, with the average American producing 1,609 pounds of trash annually. This sums up to a whopping 40% of the world’s waste.

Our findings show that one of the biggest contributing factors to the large amounts of junk is how quickly products become obsolete. Many smartphones are designed to last about two years before consumers need to buy the newer model.

And based on our observations, almost all of these products also come with packaging that’s thrown away as soon as people unpack the product, contributing to even more trash.

In addition to its high volume, junk removal is a very lucrative business. The average hourly wage of someone working in waste management and junk removal is $26.14, over twice the average American hourly wage of $10.96.

As a junk remover, you can charge an average of $350 per job with an expense of $143.50. This means you stand to gain around $200 per job.

Junk removal hourly rates

While implementing time-based pricing on junk removal services is an easy way to set your rates, it’s tougher than it looks.

Junk removal is a volume-based business and you may be removing different kinds of junk, so you can’t always reliably estimate how long it takes to finish the job.

As per our expertise, if you still want to implement hourly rates, you can do so by adding a markup to your calculated hourly labor costs. To be on the safe side, we recommend invoicing your customer after the job is done so you know exactly how much time you spent on the job.

Adjusting your junk removal pricing

The prices you set now will not be the prices you keep forever. It’s important to keep up with industry trends so that your business never falls behind.

There are several factors to look out for to ensure that you’re always pricing your junk removal jobs right. Some of these changes include:

  • The economy: As inflation rises, you should also be raising your prices.
  • Wages: Whether your state makes these changes or you decide to promote one of your employees, make sure that it isn’t impacting your profit too much if you have an increase in labor costs.
  • Market rate: There may be a higher or lower demand for junk removal services at any point. Look at your competitions’ prices to make sure you’re keeping up.
  • New fees: At any point, the city can raise its disposal fees, which ends up costing you more. If these fees increase, make sure you’re incorporating disposal fees or landfill costs into the pricing formula

Reassess your prices every once in a while to ensure that you are not underpricing yourself and missing out on revenue.

Best practices for junk removal pricing

After putting it to the test, determining the right price is not your only concern when it comes to junk removal costs. As a small business owner, you also have the responsibility of keeping up with the standards in your industry.

Following these best practices will shape your pricing strategy.

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Understand your competition

As with any business, you want to research your competitors. Not only will this give you an idea of who you will be competing with, but you should also look to your competitors to understand evolving industry trends.

If you’re first getting started, it might even be a good idea to contact other local junk removal companies for a quote. This way, you understand current prices and know where to begin pricing your services. Offering discounts for larger jobs or repeat customers is a good way to stand out from the competition too.

Calculate your margins

Based on our firsthand experience, your success lies in understanding how profit margins impact your business.

You can determine how profitable you are by calculating your net profit, which is how much money a sale brings you after subtracting all expenses.

Don’t forget to account for your overhead (ongoing expenses not tied to any specific job).

Here are some examples of overhead expenses you need to consider:

  • Insurance.
  • Truck maintenance.
  • Rent and utilities.
  • Administrative expenses.
  • Marketing and accounting.

Once you calculate how much a junk removal job will cost to complete, make sure that you add a markup to cover overhead and other unexpected costs to ensure that you make a profit.

Consider unexpected costs

Let’s be honest, you can try and plan everything to the last detail, but unexpected expenses often sneak up on you. The secret to the most accurate estimate is to account for unexpected costs.

Unexpected junk removal costs may include:

  • Issues during transit.
  • More workers needed on the job.
  • Slow loading time.

When you don’t account for these costs beforehand, you end up having to slam these additional charges onto your customer, who may not be happy about it.

The good news is that if you plan for these costs and account for them early on, they no longer become unexpected.

It bears repeating: when you apply your markup, be sure that it will cover unexpected costs that may come up.

How much do junk removal companies make?

The average profit of each junk removal job after expenses is $200. Depending on how many jobs you take per day, this number can easily increase.

Assuming you do three jobs per day, you can get $600 daily or $3000 weekly if you work a five-day week. When you add it up, you can gain $156,000 annually.

Keep in mind that this number is just an estimate. Depending on where you live, what kind of junk hauling jobs you find, and how often you work, your average profit can be higher or lower.

To boost your average profit, consider getting certifications that allow you to dispose of more dangerous waste or tackle tougher jobs.

Junk removal estimate FAQ

How do you calculate junk removal jobs?

To figure out how much to charge for junk removal services, you must first understand the current market rate for your services and understand your expenses.

The cost of junk removal is influenced by:

  • The weight of the load.
  • The labor hours required.
  • Disposal costs.

Evaluating the type of junk to be removed (eg, hazardous materials) will also affect the cost of removal. For example, removing hazardous material will cost more than yard waste.

Other common materials you may be asked to remove include:

  • Construction debris.
  • Electronic waste.
  • Recycling waste.

Where can I find free junk removal estimate templates?

If you’re ready to make accurate junk removal estimates but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

Check out this free junk removal estimate template to get you started on your journey of pricing every job right. You can customize it to suit your business, then all you have to do is plug in the numbers.

If you don’t see the download form, download template here.

How much does it cost to have junk hauled away?

It costs an average of $225 to have residential junk hauled away. Expect to charge around $100 if the client only has a little bit of trash, but you can expect to earn about $600 if the client has a truckload of trash. Setting prices based on the type of property (residential vs commercial) is common too.

For more intensive junk hauling jobs, you may need to rent out a dumpster to contain junk – this saves you from making an extra trip to and from the landfill.

A 20-yard dumpster costs $300 to $700 weekly, while a larger 40-yard dumpster can cost $400 to $850. Keep in mind that you may also need a permit to park dumpsters on the street.

If it’s a smaller-scale interior decluttering job (e.g. disposing of small items like clothes and curtains), you can rent 10-yard dumpsters at $100 to $350 per week.

Some types of waste can be more expensive to haul away. For instance, 20-yard dumpsters for construction waste can cost up to $1,300, while disposing of TVs and monitors can cost up to $75 per item.

Hazardous waste can be even more expensive to haul away because you need a special permit to dispose of them, costing up to $500 per item.

How do you calculate debris removal costs?

Your debris removal calculation depends on what kind of debris you’re moving. The average removal cost for yard debris is around $18 per cubic yard and home debris costs an average of $22 per cubic yard. Construction debris is by far the most expensive at an average of $95 per cubic yard since they’re generally larger and harder to move.

If you’re working junk disposal on a demolition site, you may want to calculate how much debris you’ll be hauling so you can prepare accordingly. Offering additional services, such as demolition or site cleanup, for an additional fee is standard practice as well.
The basic formula to calculate how much debris will be produced after demolition is:

(Building length (feet) x building width (feet) x building height (feet)  x ⅓) / 27

Once you know how much debris you’re expected to haul, you can properly figure out how many hauling trucks and dumpsters you need to finish the job in the allotted time. This allows you to incorporate rental costs for trucks and dumpsters in your rate calculation so you don’t end up underpricing your services.

It’s also a good idea to examine the job site because there may be other structures or buildings that you need to protect while moving the debris.

How much do you charge for trash removal?

You can charge anywhere from $70 to $570 for residential trash removal. However, junk removal charges can vary depending on how you choose to set rates.

There are three methods for pricing junk removal jobs:

  • Volume-based pricing based on the total truckloads you need to haul everything.
  • Time-based pricing based on how much time you spend doing the job.
  • Weight-based pricing based on how many pounds you’re hauling away.

To properly calculate how much you need to charge on a junk removal job, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the scope of work: Ask questions about the job before taking it on, such as where the client lives, what type of building they live in, and the estimated amount of junk they need to remove. Considering the complexity of the job, such as removing junk from multiple levels of a building is essential when determining charges.
  2. Calculate labor costs: Estimate how many hours you need to complete the job and multiply that by your team’s hourly wage.
  3. Include taxes: Once you arrive at a total labor cost, apply your payroll tax and other relevant taxes to get the total job cost.
  4. Set your profit margin: Markup the total job cost with your desired profit margin.
  5. Write the job estimate: Create the job estimate based on your calculations. If the client approves of it, move on to quoting and invoicing.

Recap: How much does junk removal cost?

Waste management is a lot of work, which is why it’s important that you know how much to charge for junk removal.

Although estimating junk hauling costs can be difficult to predict, creating a thorough estimate will give both you and your customer a clear understanding of the cost of disposing of their unwanted items.

As your business grows, remember these key points:

  • Keep an eye on your competitors’ prices.
  • Review your business processes.
  • Use a template to create your estimates.

In the end, every business is unique, so only you can answer the question of how much you should charge for junk removal.

Image credit: Samantha Gerhmann via Stocksy

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