The Craigslist House
  Description of the Property
  Tree Removal Services
  Pests and Pest Removal Services
  Mold and Moisture Problems
  French Drains
  Sealing the Stucco
  Legalizing Second Unit
  Engineers, Architects and the Like
  Parking/Retaining Wall Project
  Foundation Types
  Foundation Contractors
  Helical Screw Contractors
  Dirt, Debris and Demo
  Rain, Rain, Rain
  Fire Sprinkler Vendors
  Framing Contractors

Replacing the Decks

  Dirt, Debris and Demo  


Getting dirt off a hill is expensive. The technique is simple, however: hire laborers, and provide them with 5-gallon buckets, shovels, and gloves. And a place to carry the dirt to. David Hoffmire, the foundation contractor, owned a 5-cubic yard capacity dump truck that he was able to back into the parking spot. By cutting through the garden, workers were able to save a whole flight of stairs.

A hint for disposing of clay in Marin: If it's clean, McNear's Brickyard, in San Rafael (415-454-6811), will allow it to be dropped off there. Otherwise you will need to pay a dump fee.


David Hoffmire's foundation upgrade bid included demo and off-haul of dirt. But both bids I received for the deck replacement and residing did not include demo and debris removal, so I started shopping for this service.

One electrician, while bidding that part of the job, strongly recommended V's Demolition Inc. (P.O. Box 1199 Santa Cruz, CA 831-429-8638). I contacted "V", and his schedule was quite busy. Eventually he made it by, and bid $8,000 for stucco and deck removal, and carting the debris away.

At around the same time, I spotted a coupon offering 10% savings on demo and debris removal. So I contacted Hurricane Hauling & Demolition (425-A Irwin St., San Rafael, CA 415.456.3407) and David Sherman came by. His bid arrived a week later: $4,150.

I am surprised that two bids for a pretty straight-forward project can be so far apart, but I guess that it just reinforces what we all know: get a couple of bids for everything.

Debris Services:

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, lots of ads have recently appeared with titles like "Got Junk?". My first pickup was by a truck that happened to be next door. The company was Hauling 911 (415-492-8036), and the owner, Arty Smith. I pointed to two piles of debris left over from the foundation work and was quoted $160 - below the oft-quoted $40/cubic yard. Twenty minutes later the stuff was gone!

A few weeks ago I had more junk in the way - but not enough to justify a debris box. I went on Craigslist, and phoned the ad for Hauling Service: Demo and Excavation (510-815-1403). The guy asked me how much stuff I had. Heck - I didn't want to guess how many square yards, since either I'd screw him, or screw myself. I asked him to come out and take a look. He came by the following day, and quoted $300 - just a enough below that $40/cubic yard benchmark to make the transaction happen.

Here in Mill Valley, there are a few companies that provide debris boxes: 

Mill Valley Refuse (415-457-9760)
Marin Sanitary Service (1050 Andersen Drive, San Rafael, CA 415-456-2601)
Grange Debris Box & Wrecking Company Inc. (200 Tamal Plaza #115 Corte Madera, CA 415-456-2712)

I first dealt with Mill Valley Refuse.

Mill Valley Refuse categorizes their debris boxes as "Regular" or "Dirt or Rock only."

MVR's regular debris boxes, delivered to my neighborhood:

Size 4 yards 10 yards 20 yards 40 yards
Length 54 in 12 ft 16 ft 22 ft
Price $129 $271 $438 $876


Dirt or Rock only* Debris Boxes:

Size 5 yards 10 yards
Length 12 ft 14ft
Price $287 $430


* Unfortunately, Mill Valley Refuse requires that these bins be 100% dirt OR 100% rock. No mixing. Quite inconvenient...

When I scheduled the pickup of my full box, Mill Valley Refuse let me down. No one showed. When I called to ask what happened, I was told that the driver came by at 6am, and there was a vehicle in the way. 6am?! Hmmm. Never heard the truck; never received a call. And apparently my fault.

So this time around I decided to try Grange Debris Box. The delivery window was a little... broad ("this afternoon or tomorrow sometime") but I did get a 12 cubic yard can for the price of Mill Valley Refuse's 10 yard can.

Building the foundation required removing dirt. And getting the dirt off the hill required laborers and 5-gallon buckets.

The dump truck in the parking space helped.

Debris on the upper hill - mostly from the pantry.

Hurricane Demo at work: a large sheet of stucco swings loose.

Hurricane Demo carting away the stucco and deck.

The guys from Hauling Service.

When Hoffmire Construction left the scene, there was still plenty of dirt needing removal. I used debris boxes.

© 2008-14 by Bill Fridl ( billfridl@gmail.com ). All rights reserved.
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Last Updated Feb 2014.