Manlift Mayhem

I’m a residential guy and I’m working on a quote for a 5 story apartment building exterior clean. I’ve never operated a manlift but I think it’s the best way to go. There are roughly 600 panes of glass (very dirty-not cleaned since CCU in 2006) half of which are covered by screens that need to be removed.

  1. Is it common to clean the screens in the situation or is it wiser to leave this to the tenant (could be a major hassle). Is there an effective way to clean screens from the manlift bucket-I’d rather not take them down and hose them off.
  2. I’ve never used a manlift. I’ve scoped out the sides of the building and for the most part there’s enough room for the lift. It would be running on pavement and grass. I’m mostly concerned about the time factor. It will probably be a 2 guy job.
  3. Is it common to collect a deposit from the property manager to cover the manlift expense? If I bid the job at $10,000 would it be common practise to demand a 50% deposit before I even begin the job?
  4. What would you recommend for a cleaning solution? I’ve checked out the windows and they are filthy and I’ll bet there’s still some debris left from the first CCU.

How or what would you charge for this job? Can you think of a price per pane/per screen? How long would it take with 2 guys and a lift? Thanks for reading my long post, your input is much appreciated.

Hey there!

Welcome to the board (and sorry for the crazy email I sent…you have almost the identical email as a friend of mine!)

Operating the manlift may require that you obtain certification, too, and as far as the screen thing, tell the client that the tenants need to remove the screens before the day of the cleaning, to have you clean the glass underneath.

Cleaning solution wise, there are some valuable threads on here about CCU, if you’re concerned about there still being a little bit of that to do.

How long it would take depends on how good you are with the lift (probably slow, since you’re new), and the skillset of you and the other guy, with the WC’ing stuff.

Shouldn’t take more than 3-4 days though, if all goes well with the lift.

If you are going to use a lift there are a few things to take into consideration. Fist would be to measure. You don’t want to rent a lift and then find out you can’t fit it in some places. Also choosing the right lift for the job. A scissor lift would be near impossible. I would recomend a boom lift with a articulating jib. The towable lift are okay but you will spend more time moving it than working. most boom lifts that ar 45’ and higher are 4 wheel drive. that helps a ton when you are working in dirt, flat of not. a lift of this size can be very heavy in excess of 12,000.00 pounds. which brings me to my next thing. if you are using a lift of this size it’s not a good idea to put it on concrete or sidwalks. sidewalks will generaly only have 3 inches of concrete and the lift could damage that. streets and drives are normally ok. if you have to work over a sidewalk plan for a little extra size on your lift. to much is better than not enough unless you are working inside with it. Check to see if the rental place will give you a walk through on how to use the lift. most will. check to see if the renter will supply a harness and lanyard for both workers.

For the deposit I would say get something at least and it would be wise to have a work contract deetailing what is to be done, payment, time frame and all that good stuff.

Man lifts can be tricky. I wouldn’t dream of putting an inexperienced man in one unsupervised. Is it possible to use a wfp? You are far less likely to run into a problem. I’ve seen streets collapse, windows broken (I did that my first time), buildings damaged, sewer grates cracked, and metal bannisters bent after being run into (also me). Don’t do this without an experienced man with you. It could even be fatal.

Did you look over those screens really well? Can they come out from the outside? They look like the sliders that only come out from the inside. If that is the case you are going to have one hell of a job. The management of the building can put out flyers all day long for weeks on end, but you are still going to have tenents who do not remove them. I would look into this cause if the screens are included in the price you can be completing that job for a year. I would put in the contract (if the screens cannot be removed) that the window under it is not getting cleaned. With that said I would also place in that contract the need for an on site contact. Someone who can get the screens out. If they want them cleaned and you can remove them from the outside. I would get a Bucket, use a scrubber and tap the screens clean on the side of the lift bucket. Wipe the screens with a rag. Change the water every time you reach the ground to move the man lift. I would clean the screens with simple green or some kind of degreaser. The windows I would go either easy glide or GG4.

The manlift can be very dangerous. There are accidents all the time. In fact there was a one this last summer in NYC. Not a pretty picture. Don’t move it while it’s extended, bring it back to the ground. If I were you, and won the bid for 10k I would hire a guy who knows how to use one. To complete a 5 story building you are going to need a big lift. Like 60ft. Ever go up that high? It’s not fun when that bad boy shakes. You look down and see this little box on wheels that has this toothpick sticking out of it, you then realize you are standing on top of the toothpick. Then you look at the window and never look down again lol.
I would first price this job out by window and then work from there. I would really have to see the place, but I think you are pretty close.

also…since your keeping a time factor in also. You mention the windows are very dirty, meaning you will be changing your water often. That means time out of the lift and slows you down, something to consider.
also ask to see a plan of where the underground sprinklers are. You do not want to run over them. and, some lifts will not allow you to extend very high if the ground is too uneven. And as far as a lift is concerned, since you run into some windows that are 5 story, id go wit ha 60ft full articulating boom lift. will allow you to extend up even in tight areas, or up and over trees and down again without damaging them.

Oh I forgot. You mention 2 guys. Well I would think 3 or 4 just to be safe. Get some plywood. You mention sections of grass. You can use the plywood to put under the tires. Get the thickest stuff you can find. That’s where your other two guys come in. Have them move the plywood for you. You will need at least 2 sheets. I would get 4 to 6 sheets in case they crack. You can end up ripping up their grass if they recently watered it, which is common in the morning. And common from you using water from hoses, buckets etc. In a really bad case, you can get a dumb ass leave a hose running around the rig. It only has to run for a short time and you can end up getting stuck.

Do you have a deionization pole system? That is what I usually use for a job like this. If that is impractical I would figure out if I could do the 5th and 4th floors in a day or two with the man lift and only rent the thing for those days since the cost adds up fast. And yes, I would ask for a deposit!

I wouldn’t dream of going up 5 stories for my first time in a lift. I’ve only used a scissor lift that went up 20 feet and that was hairy.

I’d tell them they need to have the tenants remove the screens. Then do the whole thing with a waterfed pole. Don’t have one? This job could pay for one.

I’ve got a 5 story waterfed pole and a DI system. If the screens were removed for me, I’d be charging about $2100 for this job, and I’d complete it in about one long day or a day and half…and I’d be doing it solo.

$2,100 will come just short of buying your 5 story pole. They’re $2100 & up for 5 story carbon fiber poles. You wouldn’t want anything else for that height, meaning don’t buy a Tucker pole for 5 story work. But, once you’ve got this job done, you’ve pretty nearly paid for your waterfed pole, and you’ve got it for the next time you do the building.

I get the $2,100 price because I’ve found that in my area for exterior only cleans, the prices are generally as follows:
1st story $1.50 per pane, 2nd story $2.50 per pane…then keep adding a dollar per floor til the 5th floor is $5.50 per pane. At those rates, I get a little more than half the jobs I bid.

Even with a waterfed pole, you’ll still need to get a purificatioin system. Those run $800 or $900 for a low end DI sytem…but then you still have to buy the hoses and connections…upwards to as much as $5,000 for a multi stage RO/DI system. But, you don’t have to lay out this money to do this job. Get your pole, and call your local Culligan man. Tell him you’re a window cleaner, and you want to rent a DI tank for window cleaning. This is the cheapest way to get started with DI water purification. But, it’s much more expensive in the long run than buying your own system.
Come to think of it, you could buy your first DI tank here for $650 and get a shorter pole with it http://shop.windowcleaner.com/category.sc?categoryId=31.

Anyway, that’s how I’d approach the job. And tell them that whatever windows still have screens in them won’t get cleaned. I’ve gotten contracts with that stipulation.

I do lift work all the time now My first job was 120Ft. I prayed and went to it. If your carefull and dillagent its not that hard. protect the grass, best to rent mats some companies offer them. I use skyworks. They have extened me cridet I call and the lift is shiped . you pay shiping both ways dropoff and pick up.I have up to 30days to pay the bill If the client will give it up front the better,however I don’t like asking it sound unprofessional. Oh don’t forget the insurance waver usualy 10 to 20 % of cost. hand eye corordanation,like a vido game. it is shakey at first always move away from the building befor moveing.the boom can cause much damage . a 60ft should work. As far as the screans are conserned I would just quick wash with tbar you could charge extra, or not. That is a perferance I used to charge $1.50 to $2.50 depeding on the time hourly rate @ 40 to 65 per hour. you could do what I just started GOGS x 50%