Zolman Restoration was involved in more claims for hoarder homes in 2018 than any year prior. Specifically, the Z-team experienced an unprecedented case of hoarding at a Southeast Michigan home.

A widowed collector in her 70s was at the center of this unique claim. Experiencing a string of family tragedies, the homeowner saw herself inherit the belongings and collections of several family members, as well as the belongings of her in-laws. The homeowner experienced additional challenges at her home when a pipe on the second story burst while she was in the hospital, entirely flooding all levels and rooms in the house.


Zolman Restoration sent a team to the home for the initial inspection, where they discovered logistical challenges with an immense amount of contents and personal items. Every room in the two-story, 1,900 square-foot colonial-style home, including the basement, was filled from floor to ceiling with items, often without a pathway to enter the room. Due to the amount of flooding in the house from the broken pipe, the contents became saturated and many items were unsalvageable.

It was essential to remove all the destroyed contents, but safety was also a consideration. The weight of the water-saturated items posed a risk to the structural integrity of the home, requiring a robust inspection of the flooring and structural support of the home to ensure safety during the restoration process. Additionally, the furnace was completely flooded, creating sub-freezing temperatures throughout the home.


There were a number of steps taken to address the problems present in this home. First, the team performed an inspection of the home’s structural elements, confirming the water-saturated floors could hold the weight of the team and supplies needed to complete the job. Then the crew reset the furnace to begin the thawing process of the home. The low temperatures in the frozen home prevented additional mold from excessive growth, which helped move the process along. The team brought in humidifiers, air-movers and air-scrubbers to clean the air of mold particles and circulate fresh air needed to perform the rest of the work on-site.

A typical hoarding claim would involve packing a few dozen boxes of contents and one industrial dumpster to dispose of unsalvageable items. However, this claim saw upwards of 800 boxes of contents removed from the home and 14 industrial dumpsters needed to adequately clear the house of excessive items for restoration. A crew of 5-6 dedicated entire days to the site for five weeks straight before the home was completely cleared of contents and damaged materials.

Hands-on labor aside, establishing clear guidelines of how to handle personal items was key in gaining the trust of the homeowner. In this specific scenario, the homeowner knew the hoarding issue needed to be addressed but was hesitant to discard items that had meant so much to her loved ones. The Zolman Restoration team proved to be an empathetic and patient partner on-site, guiding her through the process and providing regular updates on what items would be moved and why some items could not be salvaged due to damage. Zolman Restoration and the homeowner worked together throughout the process to ensure no important items were lost. Through this collaborative effort, the home was prepared for the next stage of restoration, and eventually reached a state where it could be sold.


Zolman Restoration showed the ability to adapt to unprecedented and unexpected situations.  The team dealt with multiple issues simultaneously, addressing both a second-story pipe burst and an extreme case of hoarding.

The claim, worth approximately $300,000, spanned a five-week period, resulting in 800 boxes and 14 dumpsters of items as Zolman Restoration successfully cleared out, organized, and restored the home. Following the comprehensive restoration job performed by the Z-Team, the home was restored to pre-loss condition and put on the market.