Monthly Archives: April 2011

Do-it-yourself Junk Hauling?

By nature, I’m a Do-it-yourselfer. But I’m also busy, so now I pick my Do-it-yourself battles more carefully.

Here’s a short case study comparing Do-it-yourself junk removal and Junk King. The bottom line is that if you have access to a free truck and you value your time at zero, the Do-it-yourself option is best. If you don’t have a truck, and you value your time at greater than $13 per hour, then the Junk King option is best.

Case Study
You are a homeowner in Falls Church and you want to get rid of an old couch, a mattress set, a few boxes of old papers, a broken lawnmower, old grill, an old TV and a stack of used ceramic tile from a left-over bathroom demo. The volume would fit in two pick-up trucks or a small stake-body truck.

Do-it-yourself Option
First, you need to rent a small truck: best case is $89 per day without insurance. You need to budget at least five hours to get the truck, return to your house, load the truck, drive it to the dump, unload the truck, and return it.
You need to return the truck with a full tank of gas. Trucks get about 12 miles per gallon. You need to budget for 6 gallons of fuel at $4 or another $24.
Pay the dump fees. The best value for the homeowner is to go to the Fairfax County Ox Road Transfer Station or the Lorton Covanta Facility. Typically, a county employee will check your load and assess a fee.  County residents get a break, but dumping is not free. In your case, you have mixed debris, which means you have some burnable debris, some steel, some e-waste, and some construction debris. Most likely, you are going to pay about $10 each for the mattress and box springs, $15 or more for the TV because of the lead content, and $15 for the rest: total $50.
After you pay the dump fees, the county employee will direct you to unload your truck at different piles. the mattresses go in the mattress pile, grill and lawnmower (drained of gas and oil) goes to the steel, tile goes to the construction debris. The burnable debris goes to another pile.
Consider the value of your time and your helper’s time. You will need help to load and unload the bulky items. The average wage in Fairfax County is $28/hour (census data). If time is worth $28 per hour, you need to budget another $280.
Beware of hidden costs. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, the Do-it-yourselfer has the risk: injury, accident, property damage . . . For example, carriers who haul stuff pay for cargo insurance in addition to auto insurance in case something falls out of their vehicle and causes damage. Typical auto insurance doesn’t cover that kind of accident.

Therefore, the Do-it-Yourself option has the following costs:

  • Truck rental  $89
  • Fuel   $24
  • Dump fees  $50
  • Labor  $280

The total Do-it-yourself is $443 plus some hidden costs.

If you can borrow your brother’s pick-up truck and you value labor at zero, you still have the fuel and dump fees at $64, plus the hidden costs of the risk. You’ll need to make two round-trips to the dump, so your time budget goes up to 8 hours.
Junk King Option
The second option is to call a junk hauler like Junk King. The load described above is about one-third a truck load for our large 18 cubic yard trucks. Junk King’s retail cost for a third truck is $328, but most consumers use a $20 coupon from the yellow pages or book on-line for a $30 discount. Therefore, one can comfortably budget $298 with no hidden costs. Junk King provides free estimates and promises to beat any written estimate by 10%.
Other benefits include avoiding the hidden costs of the Do-it-yourself option. Junk King performs all the labor and has workers compensation, general liability, auto insurance, cargo insurance, and necessary dumping permits. Also, Junk King has a network of recyclers.  They stage the unwanted items at our warehouse, donating re-usable items, and then recycling steel and paper. Junk King even has an end-user for the old bathroom tile in the scenario above.  Therefore, Junk King is better than 95% landfill free.  If you tried to replicate their recycling process, you would have to make separate trips to six far-flung facilities and spend time conducting six separate transactions—simply not practical for the Do-it-yourselfer.


If you do not have a truck, if you value your time at more than $13 per hour, and if you would rather keep your junk and debris out of landfills, then you want to call Junk King Fairfax.  (703) 455-3861

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