Obtaining an Estimate
One of the best things you can do when assessing moving companies is to explain exactly what you believe the move will entail. To get the most accurate estimate from a mover, be sure to give the most accurate information possible about what needs to be moved. A representative from the moving company should come to your home to assess the size of the move. Be wary of movers who either do not offer or flatly refuse to perform an on-site estimate.
Also share any specifics regarding parking, the distance from the parked truck to the door, and, if necessary, the floor level and whether an elevator will be reserved. There are a few different types of estimates used by moving companies. It is recommended to get written estimates from a minimum of two different companies.
Binding estimate. A binding estimate offers a set price covering only the goods and services listed on the estimate. The homeowner must pay the set price even if the weight of the shipment or the hours of service end up being more or less than the estimated amount. If additional services are requested later, the moving agency may revise the original estimate to include them.
Nonbinding estimate. Nonbinding estimates are approximate; the final costs are determined after the shipment is weighed or, for local moves, according to the total hours of service required. The initial price of a nonbinding estimate will usually be lower than that of a binding estimate. However, with a nonbinding estimate, it’s possible that the final cost will be more than you were quoted.
The walk-through. Most movers will be glad to visit a site to give a walk-through estimate. Be sure to show the mover every single thing that is to be moved, including items stored outside and in the attic, basement, closets, and garage. Mention, as well, whether a storage unit will need to be emptied or if additional stops will be required the day of the move.
Payment arrangements. It is best to discuss payment arrangements with the moving company well in advance. Most movers do not accept personal checks, and though many accept credit cards, do not assume that they accept all major cards.
Ask the Right Questions
Determine how and when boxes will be packed. Packing too far in advance can cause unnecessary inconveniences, but packing the day of a big move can add unnecessary stress. To minimize these issues, plan ahead and use organized moving professionals. They will be able to determine and explain the best schedule for you shortly before the move. You may choose to do the packing on your own. However, remember that the moving company is not responsible for damage to items you pack yourself, unless the box shows visible physical damage at the time of delivery. For many people, it’s worth it to hand off the organizing and packing responsibilities to the experts.
Check whether there is an inventory tracking system. Most long-distance movers use some type of inventory sheet so that misplaced items can be easily identified. The more stops that are made during the move, the more likely a mix-up will occur. In contrast, local movers use dedicated trucks for your individual move, negating the need for an inventory tracking system because only your items are on the truck.
Find out if the truck is making more than one move at the same time. To reduce costs on relocations across states, moving companies often combine multiple moves on the same truck. If packed goods have to be taken on and off the truck multiple times for deliveries, this may lead to more wear and tear on them.
If you are concerned about possible over-handling, ask the movers if they are making more than one move with the truck, and find out if the truck will have to be unloaded more than once. Most companies use trucks with multiple entry doors so that shipments may be unloaded without disturbing any other items. However, homeowners may consider using a company that is dedicated to one move per truck. Of course, this is typically the case with local movers.
Research your state’s moving regulations. Intrastate movers are regulated by the state in which the company operates. Keep in mind, however, that some states do not provide any regulation. Interstate movers must be registered with the US Department of Transportation (US DOT). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the US DOT, is a good source of consumer protection information. Regardless of whether you are moving down the street or across the country, hiring a properly licensed and insured mover will help ensure a safe moving experience.
Saving on Costs and Time
Move in the middle of the month. The moving industry is usually busiest at the beginning and end of the month, simply because most closings and lease expirations occur at these times. If you can move in the middle of the month, you may get both a better price and better service.
Move certain items yourself. You can potentially speed up the moving process by taking some items yourself, and some professional moving companies suggest that you start with your plants, lamps, and pictures. Leave boxes and anything fragile for the movers, who have more experience with handling such heavy or delicate items.
Damage and Liability
Damage is always a potential during a move. The best companies will take the proper precautions to minimize damage and quickly resolve claims. Some amount of liability coverage, usually $0.60 per pound per item relocated, is included in the base price of a move. Moving companies do sell additional liability coverage; however, since some homeowners’ insurance policies cover goods in transit, check your policy before purchasing additional coverage.
Effective interaction with the moving crew can make things proceed more smoothly. At the start of the move, meet the crew members, noting each person’s name and taking special note of the crew leader. Acquaint the crew with some of the basics, such as the location of trash cans and a bathroom designated for crew use, where they can find drinking water, and where they may take breaks. Make sure there is sufficient water, bath tissue, and paper towels for them. Remember that moving is backbreaking work, so if you receive quality service, it’s customary to tip each member of the crew individually.
There should always be at least one responsible adult available throughout the move to answer questions. Keep pets out of the way, and discourage older children from trying to “help” the movers, as this can create a liability issue.