How to Rent A Dumpster & What Questions to Ask

One of the first things we did in our new house was order a dumpster to prep for the demo. I guess it shows HOW much of a rookie I am when it comes to demo because renting a dumpster hadn’t even crossed my mind until I was reviewing my project to-do list with my dad a few weeks before closing.

I was making a step-by-step list of things I needed to do in order to prepare for the first week in the house, which is when he added ORDER DUMPSTER to my to-do list. How could I overlook one of the most important necessities of demo week?!

A Dumpster?

This is when I quickly realized that I didn’t even know where to start in order to check this item off my to-do list. Who do I call? How much do they cost? What can go in the dumpster? How long do they stay for? Do I need a permit? I mentioned the dumpster drama to Casey and she also scratched her head and realized she didn’t know much about the process either. I guess if you never have to deal with construction, this isn’t an everyday task you’d face.

That’s when she insisted I write a post documenting these rookie tips for others who may find themselves in the same boat some day. And here we are today… tackling quite possibly the most non-glamorous topic in all of the DIY Playbook’s history — the dirty details of renting a dumpster.

I’m sure this isn’t going to spark everyone’s interest (trust me, I UNDERSTAND) but I hope it brings you some answers if you ever find yourself in the same clueless state that I was just a few weeks ago.

How Do I Order a Dumpster?

The first thing you need to do is identify a list of companies that offer this service in your area (thank you, Google). Once you have that list you can visit their websites or call the companies to find which company will fit your needs the best. For me, that meant cost, length of stay, sizes available, but your criteria may look different. Calling around really narrowed the field for me and helped identify the company I thought was the best fit for the job.

Each company will be different, but for me to officially “reserve” the dumpster I had to call the company and speak with a representative… I’m sure others would probably offer this step online as well. I had to provide my credit card number, my address, the size of the dumpster I needed, what date I wanted it dropped off, how long I would need the dumpster, what I planned on filling it with, and my contact information. They recommended reserving the dumpster a few days in advance, but I reserved it a little under 2 weeks in advance just to be safe. I think this timeline really depends on how large the company you’re working with is, how busy they are, and how many dumpsters they own. Be sure to call in advance just to be sure!

What Size Do I Need?

The sizes of dumpsters are measured in “yards”. I got the smallest size available to me, which was an 8-yard dumpster. They also had 10 yards, 12 yards, 14 yards, 20 yards and all the way up to 40 yard dumpsters available. The size of your project will determine what size dumpster you need. Speaking with a representative on what exactly you have planned will probably help you determine what size dumpster is best for you.

I do want to note that our 8 yard dumpster went faster than I thought it would. The materials we originally planned on putting in the dumpster could easily fit in the size we ordered. It was the added items that were unexpected (like the landscaping items we didn’t plan to rip out or the items we threw away instead of moving into our new home) that made this dumpster fill up rather quickly. This may not be the case for everyone, but definitely something to consider when choosing your dumpster size.

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of the dumpster will depend on how large the dumpster is. To give you a reference, my 8 yard dumpster was $260. I liked this specific company because it didn’t matter if I needed the dumpster to stay for 2 days or 22 days, the cost was the same and was only based on the size I ordered. Be sure to inquire with the company you work with to see how the pricing works. Some companies may even charge for the materials you plan on adding to it (i.e. weight) so be sure to get all of the facts before making a deal.

Will I Need a Permit?

This all depends on what your city’s rules are. Obviously, that’s different for everyone but I wanted to add this question in here just to make you are aware that you should look into this answer before ordering your dumpster. My city did not require a dumpster permit. Some cities may only require one if the dumpster needs to sit on the street instead of a driveway. Either way, it’s worth looking into before renting the dumpster because this may be an added expense to consider.

What Can I Throw Into the Dumpster?

Wood? Tile? Landscaping? Paint? You need to clarify this with your dumpster company before reserving the dumpster in order to confirm that they can meet your project’s needs. Usually paint is not allowed to be added into a dumpster, but everything else is fair game. But again, it’s better to double check with the company just to be sure!

What Information Should I Have Ready When I Do Book the Dumpster?

The dumpster company will probably ask you where on your driveway you want the dumpster to be located. Be sure to know ahead of time what side of the driveway you want them to leave it on. Hopefully you don’t have to be home for the drop off/pick up, but you’ll want to ask them just to be sure. If you’re having them leave the dumpster on the street, make sure you secure proper permission and let them know exactly where they should leave it.

How Long Will it Stay?

The dumpster should stay as long as you need it! Of course, this may come with an added cost, but it’s definitely in your best interest to keep it around until all of your materials have been thrown away. Be sure to ask the company questions about this topic. Do you need a specific pick-up date right when you reserve the dumpster? Or can you keep them updated on the status of the dumpster while you have it? If so, does that come with an added cost? The more you communicate the better!

Do I Need Any Other Material?

You may need to purchase plywood or something to lay down on your driveway in order to protect it from the bottom of the dumpster. You don’t want any scratches, stains, or permanent damage on your driveway and this plywood is a simple way to help avoid these issues. The company I worked with provided this material, which was nice because my driveway was protected, yet I didn’t need to purchase anything extra in order to “prep” for its arrival.

Any Other Tips or Tricks To Consider?

Most dumpsters have latches on one side of them that allows you to “unlock” the dumpster door and open it. This seems silly but it can be extremely helpful if you need to walk heavy items into the dumpster. You won’t want to open that door when it’s full but at the beginning stages of filling the dumpster, walking some items in and setting them down instead of throwing them could be beneficial.

Be sure not to fill your dumpster over the “Maximum Fill Line” indicated on the dumpster. If garbage is heaping over the dumpster, the company may charge extra or may not even take this extra material, so be sure to follow the guidelines. That being said, try to lay everything as flat in the dumpster as possible so that you can pack as much stuff in there before filling it up. If you put odd shaped items (especially on the bottom) you are wasting valuable space in the dumpster.

Any Other Tips?

So there you have it, the most non-glamorous post in all of the DIY Playbook’s history. Who knew there was so much to chat about when it comes to DUMPSTERS?! I sure didn’t… especially a few weeks ago when I had no clue I even needed one. I hope these tips help my fellow rookies tuning in. Maybe not today, but hopefully someday. And for my dumpster experts, am I missing any information that could be helpful for others? Please feel free to drop that info in our comments so others can learn from your expertise!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

your home playbook sidebar