Home & Leisure

In LA, hidden armies of workers keep mega-mansions on the market

Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

In Southern California, a mansion is a micro-economy.

Every luxury property has a developer who envisioned it, an architect who built it, an agent who sold it, and a deep-pocketed buyer who had to have it.

To run the place — to have the guests greeted, drinks poured, floors polished, windows washed, cupboards stocked, the perimeter secured, meals cooked, children curated, lawns manicured, ponds algaecided — typically requires a staff akin to a modern-day Downton Abbey.

And whenever these prized properties surface for sale, many dozen more workers enter the fray — tasked with elevating the home to its most beautiful state, keeping it in pristine condition in hopes of luring a buyer willing to spend a fortune to acquire it.

They include maids, gardeners, handymen, pool techs, interior designers, limestone specialists and aquarium cleaners. They work behind the scenes, sweating through hot summers to ensure that every crack is cleaned, every leaf is trimmed and every pool has the perfect PH balance.

In the end, the developer gets the profits, the agent gets the TV show, and the rich person gets the house. But these workers —critical cogs in Southern California's rarefied lifestyles and its extraordinary real estate market—make it all happen.


"I take pride because I'm a part of the project," said Deisy Flores, a maid and owner of Casa Fantastic Cleaning Services. "The architect, the contractor, the stagers, and us. We're a part of it."

Flores founded the company with the help of her mother in 2013, and the work has evolved from cleaning modest homes in West Covina to scouring mega-mansions on the Westside. She employs 15 professional cleaning technicians — she prefers that term over maids, which feels restrictive since the company handles commercial projects as well. While smaller projects need only one or two people, larger ones require the entire squad.

On hectic days such as these, Flores oversees it all like a quarterback executing a well-oiled offense. She communicates with the homeowner and dispatches teams across the house, assigning any number of ladders, sponges and buckets to help complete the task. Certain towels are used for delicate surfaces such as marble or glass chandeliers. Backpack vacuums often make a cameo, since wheeled ones might scratch the floor.

Her team takes on any job, from small homes that take a few hours to hillside castles that take days. Often, they're not the only ones there.


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