Whether it's woodworking, drywalling, or any number of other projects, remodeling is a messy business. Hanging plastic sheets around the jobsite, fans in the windows, regular vacuuming, and sticky placed in pads at doorways are all helpful steps, but homeowners should always be advised to expect a fine layer of dust throughout the house until the final clean-up day.

Eager to improve the situation for his clients, remodeler David Roberts, AIA, began using the BuildClean Dust Control System early in its engineering and testing phase. The device and its manufacturer promises a cleaner jobsite, more satisfied homeowners, and better working conditions for crew members. So far, Roberts says they're delivering.

"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 cool, but works well and is of value to the people working with it," says the owner of Roberts Construction Group, Evanston, Ill."With BuildClean, we can tell [our clients] that 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."

The BuildClean unit is about the size of a standard jobsite vacuum, but features increasing levels of filtration to scrub the air. A primary filter handles coarse particles, while a secondary HEPA filter handles fine particles. Both are designed as 360-degree filters, so air is pulled in from all sides of the unit, which, on its highest setting, can perform up to six air exchanges per hour for a 6,000-cubic-foot space. Users can set up BuildClean to create a negative pressure situation (like the window fans of old), or to clean and recirculate the air within the home. Roberts says he's done both, sometimes simultaneously by placing one unit in a negative-pressure setup in the work zone, and one in the client's space "just to scrub the air." Additionally, BuildClean helps the company comply with lead-safe practices on RRP projects. The HEPA filter cleans the air within to required RRP standards, and also saves on clean-up time since so much of the dust has already been managed.

In addition to a cleaner jobsite, Roberts is especially pleased with the BuildClean system's ability to keep his crews and clients safer. "Health is super important for the guys and the trades that come onto the job," Roberts says. "We wear safety glasses, and ear protection, and this is another tool to meet and exceed those expectations of a clean and safe jobsite. 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 coarse pre-filter (about $23 each) on every job. The HEPA filter should last about a year before replacement is necessary.