Clearing and selling Dad's house

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by FranciscoBegbie, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. FranciscoBegbie

    FranciscoBegbie New member

    Jun 25, 2019
    Hi there. I'm looking for some recommendations from anyone in Scotland who may have dealt with having to clear a loved one's home.
    My Dad is in full time care now, after his dementia got dramatically worse a couple of years ago. I have Guardianship granted. His care costs have been assessed and while theres no need to sell to pay for his care, I think his home should be sold, as it's unoccupied and falling into disrepair.

    I'm finding it very difficult to deal with my dad's home. It was the family home for over 30 years and everything in it has a memory attached to it, it's also in a fairly sad state, as my Dad lived alone after my Mum's death, a period of time that coincided with the onset of his Dementia. The house is very cluttered and full of stuff going back to when I was young and all of my Mum's belongings are still there, so it's emotionally very hard to deal with.

    So, I'm thinking that the easiest way to deal with this will be to get a company in to clear it, but I'm looking for a reputable company who will dispose of things properly. Any recommendations?
  2. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hello @FranciscoBegbie
    a warm welcome to DTP
    I appreciate how challenging it is clearing and selling a parent's house ... I did this, but it wasn't the family home as dad moved a lot and he had few possessions, even so it took a lot of emotional energy

    I think you're wise to look for some professional help with dealing with this

    though, unfortunately, it's against T&Cs here for members to make specific recommendations on the forum
  3. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    If I'm allowed a general piece of advice. You might want to consult a charity which also sells off household goods and furniture such as the Salvation Army. They may well do whole houses. You can but ask.
  4. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    The British Heart Foundation is one charity that does full or part house clearances so there's probably a few others that do the same.
  5. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    North Manchester
    If going for a house clearance via a charity beware that they will take everything not just the 'good' stuff

    Another charity to add to the list is an international one - Emmaus, working for the homeless.

    What they will do varies by area, some have a very practical approach, they come and have a look and say 'we will clear everything for a fee of zilch to <some value>
    Here's a link to start you off in Scotland
  6. maryjoan

    maryjoan Registered User

    Mar 25, 2017
    South of the Border
    May I suggest that you have someone reputable to look through the house, to spot anything that may be of value? Mums rings maybe? or similar - you might want as keepsakes. You see so often items that are 'given' away turn out to be valuable.
    Anything then sold could be used for extra comforts for Dad.
    Then let a charity clear the house and benefit from extra funds realised....
    Very hard for you, to do.
    If it is of any help, when my Mum in law died, I had to quickly clear her house, as we lived 100's miles away, and had to return home - I felt awful going into her bedroom, but I apologised to her out loud and just got on with it - I did the same thing when my Mum died. Somehow, a well meant apology to the deceased made me feel better about what I was doing.
  7. FranciscoBegbie

    FranciscoBegbie New member

    Jun 25, 2019
    Thanks for your replies everyone.
    British Heart Foundation were my initial thought for this, I'd even made an initial enquiry. But I was put off when someone told me that they would only take what they can resell, and would need everything boxed and bagged anyway. This is something I'm trying to avoid, as given the clutter and emotional attachment, I'd never get through it all. I'd rather it all be done at one go.

    I've had a couple of trawls through the house looking for important documentation and valuables. I've also asked the wider family if anyone would like to have a look before we finally clear the house. And, while everyone is verbally very supportive, this support hasn't gone as far as anyone actually doing anything. I don't want to be unfair, as everyone has their own problems and burdens to deal with, but essentially I'm on my own. I'm very surprised by how difficult I'm finding this.
  8. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
    I used British Heart Foundation. They do only take what they can sell but I found them useful for getting rid of furniture and electricals. I didn't have to box anything up.
  9. Elle3

    Elle3 Registered User

    Jun 30, 2016
    Hi, sorry I'm not in Scotland, but selling and emptying my dad's house which had been the family home for over 50 years is something I had to do last year whilst my dad was in the care home and I found it very difficult too. But like you I felt it had to be done as I couldn't leave the house empty, especially over Winter as it had no central heating and needed much modernisation.

    I'm glad to see you have already been through the house looking for documentation and valuables etc, I was going to suggest that if you hadn't already, before calling in someone to do a house clearance. You don't want any regrets

    In total it probably took me about 3-4 months to clear everything from dad's house, ready for the house completion/exchange as I only did a little at a time and as I was emotionally attached to the house I decided I needed to do it in stages. I had no siblings to help, just my husband.

    Stage 1 - was getting the house ready for the Sale and viewings. (I put it up for Sale in August, this seemed to be a very good time and it sold within 1 week)
    I removed all valuables, items I wanted to keep, photographs and documentation and de-cluttered. I left it looking clean and presentable with furniture etc still in situ. I appointed an Estate Agent who did all the viewings etc for me so I didn't have to get involved in that.

    Stage 2 - Clearing out cupboards/bagging up clothes etc
    I did this one room at a time and anything that was worthless/rubbish got bagged and taken to the refuse tip, anything that was good I kept to one side for charity.

    Stage 3 - Once the house was Sold - Clearing out big furniture items and white goods
    I then visited a few charity shops in my dad's area and asked them if they would be interested in any items. I arranged for one charity who helped homeless people, ex veterans and people from domestic abuse situations to visit. They took all the big furniture items, cupboards, drawers, sofa (check for fire labels, charities will not take beds or suites without them), chairs, tables, crockery, ornaments and all the electrical and white goods, duvets/pillows/bedding and good clothing. This took them about 3/4 visits with a large van. In the end all I was left with was the bed and mattress as it didn't have a fire label. They even took some items from the garden. It didn't cost me a penny.

    Stage 4 - Leaving it ready for exchange/completion
    I arranged for the local council to remove the bed and mattress. This cost £28 for 2 items.
    I did a final clean, left all window keys/spare keys and instructions for anything that remained in a prominent place and I said my goodbyes. We completed beginning of November.

    It was hard, but I was very glad I did it the way I did, I was pleased most items went to a good cause and I managed to keep my good memories in tact and do the house sale and clearance with my dad in mind. I had no regrets and I think my dad would have been proud of me.

    Elle x
  10. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I found clearing mums home after she moved into a care home very difficult - much harder than when I cleared my MILs home after she died. There was this horrible feeling that I was doing things behind her back.

    I found getting a friend in to help (family was useless) made it easier as she didnt have the same emotional attachment. We went through it methodically, room by room, sorting clearing and packing as we went. A bottle of wine helped too......

    It is worth checking everything. I found several large stashes of cash hidden away, mums will in with her best table linen and a heavy gold chain (the most expensive piece of jewellery that she possessed) in the tea caddy under the tea bags. I could easily have chucked the lot away without discovering the hidden "gems"

    Things that I just couldnt deal with I put in boxes and brought them home. Which is why my smallest bedroom has many boxes piled up in it...............

    Good luck
  11. maryjoan

    maryjoan Registered User

    Mar 25, 2017
    South of the Border
    Just thought about this - a couple of years ago I had to clear my workplace quickly, as my partner was very very ill, and also diagnoses with dementia and I had to be at home for him.
    I just took the stuff I needed and left the rest. The local Children's Hospice brought a van and took the lot - I did not have to pack anything, or check anything - they did it all - so it looks as though the answer is to check out local charities and see what answers you get.
    Good Luck
  12. maryjoan

    maryjoan Registered User

    Mar 25, 2017
    South of the Border
    And another thought......
    My MIL was moving house as she had been compulsorily purchased. She decided she was going to buy all new furniture etc with her money, and just lock the old house up and walk away....
    A great idea when you are starting a new life....
    My then husband went up the stairs and noticed that the carpet was rather bumpy. He checked underneath and from top to bottom the carpet was stuffed with £5 and £10 notes - she had forgotten about them.
    So worth checking unusual places just in case....
  13. Mydarlingdaughter

    Mydarlingdaughter Registered User

    Oct 25, 2019
    My Mum: Her house has been empty one year as she was admitted to hospitial and was assessed as not fit to return home. Eventually we were told she is to stay in the care home long term. Slowly going through cupboards and drawers, any indoor clothes, photos go to the care home. The care home seems to require huge amounts of clothes so better have the old clothes your dear one is familiar with and will respond well to. Also better than spending money on new clothes which may not be suitable to care home life.
    My view is everything is still her property but as she is not going home, cannot turn back time, she has no use for these things, they have no resell value, most are damaged in some way, or smell of mould, cannot stay where they are as eventually house needs to be sold, but cannot all go to care home either...
    She responds well to photos, gardening related items and craft things, even tho she can no longer do anything like that. She just sits. The problem is the clutter. The house is damp and smells bad so everything is contaminated by the bad smell of damp stake fags and mould. The room in the care home is nice but small and already looks cluttered with things. She said for the first time, last time I visited. "Its quite nice here..." high praise from someone who repeatedly said they would kill themself rather than go to a care home.

    Definitely look for cash. Mum hid cash. I also found her engagement ring, which we thought had been lost. Family photos and diaries are another thing to look out for. Also heirlooms which would have little resale value.
    This bit is hard as some things could fetch a lot at auction?
    Aware you are looking for help with finding a home clearance or professional decluttering, so apologies if seems to be hijacking conversation. Its a very hard thing to have to do, but only needs to be done once. Once the clutter is gone you can decide which company or charity to take over.
    Take a trusted friend with you, they can hold the bin bag open for you to chuck the mouldy socks in.
  14. Champers

    Champers Registered User

    Jan 3, 2019
    Thank you for reviving this thread. We’re faced with clearing two houses at the moment and I hadn’t realised a charity would actually come in and take stuff. I would far rather a group like that benefitted than paying any old man with a van. We’re going to my mother’s tomorrow, which is a couple of hours, away to start day 3 of the sort out. Like so many other mentioned on here, she was a great squirreller. I don’t think I’ll need to buy cleaning products for years - there are shelves and shelves of bleaches sprays, powders etc. I’m know there will definitely cash but where that will be is anyone’s guess.
  15. Lirene

    Lirene Registered User

    Sep 15, 2019
    It is heartbreaking and you have my sympathy. It’s clearing out a life from someone still living. 11 + years on it still haunts me, but my mum is 96 and happy and oblivious in her care home.
    When someone dies it’s closure, it’s still not closure for me and never will be. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family xx
  16. clarice2

    clarice2 Registered User

    Mar 13, 2016
    My dad hid over £2000 inside cushion covers. We had a skip to empty his bungalow and it was just luck that we found it.

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