Remodeling is messy. No matter how many plastic sheets are hung around the jobsite, or vacuuming breaks built into the production schedule, remodelers are smart to advise their clients to expect a fine layer of dust throughout the house until the final clean-up day.

For that reason, among others, remodeler David Roberts, AIA was eager to give the BuildClean Dust Control System a try early in its engineering and testing phase. The device and its creators promised a cleaner jobsite, more satisfied homeowners, and better working conditions for crew members. So far, Roberts says they're delivering.

The BuildClean system helps keep a Roberts Construction jobsite cleaner and safer for homeowners and crews.
The BuildClean system helps keep a Roberts Construction jobsite cleaner and safer for homeowners and crews.

"We were happy to be part of the engineering test, and my guys in the field enjoyed using it," says the owner of Roberts Construction Group, Evanston, Ill. "They've taken what in the past had been a crummy fan taped into the window and turned it into something that not only looks coole, but works well and is of value to the people working with it."

The BuildClean device comprises a drum about the size of a standard jobsite vacuum, outfitted with two 360-degree filters that manage coarse and fine particles as they're pulled in from all sides of the unit. Running up to six air exchanges per hour for a 6,000-cubit-foot space, users can set up BuildClean to create a negative pressure situation (like the window fans of old), or to scrub and recirculate the air within the home. Roberts says he's done both, sometimes simultaneously by placing one unit in the work zone and one in the client's space "just to scrub the air."

"Keeping their homes clean is a huge fear that our clients express at the beginning of a project," he says. "With BuildClean, we can tell them we can't eliminate dust, but we can take a lot of it out of the air before it even lands. It keeps the house clean, and it's a safer environment for our crews working in the house as well. We wear safety glasses, and ear protection, and this is another tool to meet and exceed those expectations of a clean and safe jobsite."

Roberts Construction is compliant with lead-safe practices, and often work on RRP projects where BuildClean becomes an asset. The HEPA filter cleans the air within to required RRP standards, and also saves time and money come clean-up since so much of the dust has already been managed.

"Health is super important for the guys and the trades that come onto the job," Roberts says. "They see that we as a company are taking extra measures for them and for the client. It reminds them that every moment of the work day that cleaning the jobsite benefits everyone who works and lives in that space."

Roberts doesn't charge his clients for use of the BuildClean system, but the manufacturer says that is a route some remodelers have taken to help cover the cost of the $1,000 system. In addition to the unit itself, maintenance costs include replacing the pre-filter (about $23 each) on every job. The HEPA filter should last about a year before replacement is necessary.