Renting a Truck versus Hiring Quality Moving and Packing
The first issue to tackle when planning your own move is deciding whether to use a rental truck or hire a professional Moving company. Cost and logistical planning are determining factors in this decision, however, additional expenses must be considered when selecting move options. The cost of gas, accommodations en route, and the possible necessity of hiring labour at origin and destination all contribute to the overall expense of the move. Coordinating a self move is also time consuming. Statistics show that planning and executing a move is one of the highest stresses in life. Determining what size truck is necessary for the load, finding friends or paid labourers to help, and loading the truck properly to avoid damage are logistical issues which can quickly become overwhelming. Moving should not have to be a stressful experience. Hiring a professional mover can reduce the hassles associated with moving. Quality Moving and Packing will make your move painless and easy.
7 Red Flags to Look for When Hiring a Moving Company (Jane Irene Kelly September 2003)
Keep an eye out for these warning signs to avoid scams or shoddy service the next time that you move:
Rock-bottom prices. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, says Ron Berry, senior vice president of the Councils of the Better Business Bureau, Washington, D.C. Get at least three estimates, and check out moving companies with your local Better Business Bureau.
No physical presence in your area. A nice website or ad in the phone book doesn't always translate into a legitimate or professional moving operation. "The Internet is a wonderful tool, but unfortunately there are a lot of bad people out there," says Dave Hauenstein, director of technical programs for the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), Alexandria, Va. Find out if companies have a physical presence in your area.
Refusal to visit your home prior to the move. The AMSA warns consumers to avoid movers who only give estimates over the phone or refuse to physically examine the goods to be shipped prior to moving day. An in-home estimate should be required and offered without asking. And when a trained and experienced estimator does conduct an inspection, make sure to get the itemized estimate in writing.
Rates based on cubic feet. Using the cubic foot method means that there is no way for you to verify the amount you will be charged. Instead, price should be based on weight, which can always be verified by state-certified scales.
Blank documents and contracts. Believe it or not, moving scammers really do try to get consumers to agree to, and sign, blank documents and sadly, it happens. Don't sign anything that you haven't reviewed and approved.
Anonymous-looking trucks. If a mover shows up in a standard rental truck or a truck with no distinct markings, you may be at risk of a moving scam. If the operation looks unprofessional, it probably is, warns Ron Berry of the BBB.
Demands for payment by cash. Cash can certainly be a payment option and can include tender such as cashier's checks or money orders. Moving companies are also required to accept personal checks or credit cards, according to AMSA. Acceptable types of cards must be specified by the mover.
Downsizing: Making do with less
Free Move Planner
Moving mistakes you can avoid
Customers must be careful when selecting a moving company to move their precious heirlooms. There are so many trivial factors to take into consideration that only someone with years of experience would recognize. Some things as simple as taping directly on the finish or placing wet/moist blankets on the finishing, leaving water stains. Even when placing or removing a pad from antiques, the treads from the pad will catch into the knobs or splinters and can end up causing unrepairable damage.
Antiques are usually one of a kind, a once in a lifetime piece of furniture and should be treated as such. We at Quality Moving and Packing do a complete inspection to ensure that every antique we deal with is able to make the relocation successfully.
Antiques are more susceptible to damage compared to your other furniture because of a few factors beside their age. For example, over time glue becomes hard and brittle causing the joints to weaken, the wood shrinks due to temperature change causing the pieces to separate. We first pad the antique and make sure that it is completely covered and protected. The entire antique is wrapped in a shrink wrap over the pads, as snug as possible for extra security. It is then carried to a “safe spot” on the truck designated by the crew chief.
Downsizing: Making do with less
Downsizing to a smaller house isn't only for empty nesters and retirees. With home prices skyrocketing and layoffs still common, many homeowners must make do with less space. For those relocating to areas of the country with hot real estate markets, downsizing might not be a choice, it may be the only option. The disadvantages of downsizing are obvious: You may have to get rid of a couple of rooms' worth of furniture to get everything to fit. Family members may feel crowded and squeezed. Despite the problems, moving to a smaller space does have advantages. If you spend less on your new home than your old one, that's cash in the bank and likely a more manageable mortgage payment. A smaller space may bring your family together for more fun activities as you find that you're sharing more time together in fewer rooms. Some people find themselfs "re-purposing rooms" in an effort to make their possessions fit in a three-bedroom ranch after downsizing from a spacious four-bedroom house,"We had to get rid of a lot of stuff," she says. "Even then, we ended up using our garage for storage and not parking the cars there. We used the dining room as home-office space and ate in the kitchen."
Condos vs. small housesWhen considering the advantages and disadvantages of a condo, townhouse or other type of attached unit vs. a freestanding house, think about your tolerance level for noise and neighbors in proximity. If you're skittish about being close to other people but still want an attached unit, look at units on the top floor of a building and at the corner or end of a building. While condo living frees you from time-consuming chores and large maintenance projects, you're still on the hook for your share of those expenses through a condo fee. "Condo fees include exterior maintenance on common areas, water, insurance on everything except personal possessions and amenities such as clubhouses and pools," Although that fee may seem initially manageable when you're looking to move, fees can rise sharply and you have little or no control over those increases. In a house, you have more control over when you make repairs and are freer from the noise and comings and goings of your neighbours. And even though you still have to deal with yard work, a much smaller yard can mean that the time spent outside is greatly reduced. If you landscape carefully, you can eliminate flowers and plants that are beautiful to look at but require lots of time and care, such as roses. Jo Ann Judy, a freelance writer, moved with her husband into a condo in 1993 when her children were grown. "Although we loved our house, it just consumed too much of our time to maintain it, especially the yard, which was enormous, so we moved into a condo," she says. However, after a number of years, they grew tired of living so close to so many people. So they moved again, this time into a smaller house. Costs such as the mortgage payment and electric and gas bills will fall if you relocate to a smaller house in the same or a less expensive area. "Our mortgage payment fell by more than a $1,000 a month," says Busch. "Utilities were less too, but it was the lower mortgage payment that made a big difference."
Organizing your new spaceWhen downsizing, it's important to avoid cluttering up your new home with too much stuff. So, as soon as you've made a final decision on where you're going, carefully measure every room in your new home. Go beyond the basics, and make sure you include anything that protrudes, including radiators and windows. You don't want to inadvertently place your bookcase in front of a window and then have to shuffle around all your furniture on moving day.Once you have the precise measurements in hand, invest in a cheap computer program, such as Home Design Quick and Easy, or a pad of graph paper and a bunch of pencils. Carefully plot out which pieces of furniture will go in each room. Be cautious against being overly optimistic about what will fit in a room -- if your floor plan shows that only a sofa and two chairs will fit in a room, let it go at that. "Leave at least two feet of space around each piece of furniture," she says. "Seniors should leave more space because they may need a wheelchair or walker one day."
What to tossBig items such as furniture aren't the only culprits when it comes to clutter. The rule-of-thumb is if you haven't used something in a year, pitch it. And while big items take up lots of room, odds and ends also add up, hogging space. Brandt notes that many people have a hard time parting with collections such as books, figurines, records/DVDs or other objects. Paperwork is high on the toss list. "It's amazing what people save," she says. "I know one person who saved her mother's bank receipts and other papers from 50 years ago." Consult your tax adviser to see which tax returns and records you must keep and get rid of everything else.
Many empty nesters continue to store their kids' stuff for years after they have moved out. Brandt recommends calling your kids, giving them a date by which they have to get their stuff out and tossing everything by that date except a few precious items. Don't succumb to the temptation of leasing a storage unit for stuff that won't fit in your new home, Brandt warns, unless you plan on moving again to a bigger house in the near future. "Cut the cord, and just get rid of it," she says.
How to get of rid of itJudy and her husband held a garage sale to get rid of their extra things. "We had way too much stuff in our house, so we had a garage sale and sold a lot of things that we knew we wouldn't have room for," she says. "Also, since both of our kids were just furnishing apartments of their own, much of the furniture stayed in the family." Because they moved quickly, Busch didn't have time to have a garage sale, so she prevailed on friends to take some things that she didn't have room for and donated other items to charity. In some areas, Goodwill and the Salvation Army will come and pick up donated items, but in other areas you have to get the items to their location. Think outside the traditional charity outlets. Families who lose their homes in a fire and recent immigrants are in desperate need of furniture and household items in just about any condition. Check with the Red Cross, churches and other local agencies for tips. If you have a lot of nice furniture and larger items that have value, consider holding a home auction. In many large cities you can hire a service that will catalog your furniture and other stuff, help you value it appropriately and conduct the auction on your behalf for a flat fee or percentage of the profits. Check with your garbage company. Some companies allow you to put out items to be picked up with your regular garbage. Some cities have special cleanup dates when residents can place large items on the curb for pickup. As a last resort, you could just put furniture out on the curb in the hope that someone scavenging will pick it up.
Making do with lessOnce you move into your home, how do you adjust to having less space? Brandt suggests using items for more than one purpose. For example, you can use a trunk as a coffee table, placing items such as extra sheets, towels or blankets in it to save room in your closets. If you had a large family but now are feeding only yourself and your spouse, you can eliminate or cut down on extra serving dishes, pots and pans and even whole sets of dishes, especially if you won't be entertaining much. Busch emphasizes the idea of using rooms for more than one purpose. You may be able to squeeze a small computer desk in the corner of a bedroom or the dining room. Instead of a freestanding washer and dryer, consider a stackable unit that will take up less space. The hardest part of having less space is having family members on top of each other all the time. Busch and her husband, at the time of their move into a smaller house, had a teenager and a baby. "It was tough to get used to having so much less space, but we did it," she says. "You can do it if you have a family that gets along well."
Free Move Planner 5 Weeks to Move-out Day. 1. Start getting the details of the move organized as soon as you can. 2.If your company is helping you with moving expenses, find out how much they'll pay so you can plan your budget. 3.Ask the Internal Revenue Service for information about tax deductions on moving expenses. 4.Contact your insurance agent to transfer property, fire, auto and medical insurance. _____ When organizing dental and medical records, be sure to include prescriptions, eyeglasses, and vaccinations. 5.Wills, stock certificates, and other one-of-a-kind documents are difficult or impossible to replace. Plan to carry them with you instead of packing them. 6.If you have questions that this move planner doesn't address, ask your agent for details about our toll-free 24-hour Answerline. 4 Weeks to Move-out Day. 7. Bring your children in on the move now. Make it exciting and fun. 8. Let kids do some of their own packing, or let them suggest layouts for their own room. Ask their opinions on decisions. 9. Sit down and start organizing your move. Make a list with 3 columns: items to leave behind, items for the mover, items you'll move by yourself. 10.Animals can't be moved in a moving van, and state laws can prohibit the moving of house plants. If you're not taking your pets or plants by car, make shipping arrangements. Make sure your pets have had necessary shots and that their tags are current. Consider giving plants to a friend or local charity. 11.Fill out change of address forms- you'll find some in the back of this planner. If you need extras, ask your agent or get them at the Post Office. Start recording the local addresses you may need later. Take your old phone book. 3 Weeks to Move-out Day. 12. At this point you should begin to make some definite decisions. 13.For each item you aren't going to move, decide whether you'll sell it, give it away, or dispose of it. 14.Talk to your agent and decide how much packing you need to do yourself, if any. Leave big item for the mover. Remember, we pack for a living. It's safest and easiest to let us do everything we can. 15. For anything you've outgrown or just don't use, consider having a garage sale. This is a project kids can have fun being involved. 16. Clear off your worktables, and collect rakes, shovels, and hoes in one place. 17. Discuss fragile possessions with your agent, who'll show you that we know how to move these items safely. 18. You'll probably want to carry valuable jewelry with you. If you've hidden any valuables around the house, be sure to collect them all before leaving. 19. While you're sorting through your belongings, remember to return library books and anything else you've borrowed. Collect items you've loaned or have on lay-away. 2 Weeks to Move-out Day. 20. It's getting to that critical point where the preparations you make now will make everything smoother later. 21. Make final packing decisions. Start preparing anything you don't use often for the move. 22. Clean and clear. 23. Plan meals that use the food in your freezer. 24. Drain all the oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and power tools to prevent fire in the moving van. See your owner's manual for details. 25. Send change-of-address cards to national newspapers and magazines. Cancel delivery of local papers and settle your account. 26. Thousands of people leave town without clearing their safety deposit boxes. Don't be one of them. Call your bank to find out how to transfer your accounts. 27. Drain the water from your hose. Wrap and tie it for moving day. 28. Arrange appliance disconnection and preparation. Your agent can give you advice about who to see if you don't know where to start. 1 Week to Move-out Day. 29. This is your week to tie up loose ends. Check back through this move planner to make sure you haven't over looked anything. 30. Arrange to have the utilities at your old home disconnected the day after your scheduled Move-out Day. 31. Call ahead to have utilities connected the day before Move-in Day, if possible. 32. Pack your suitcases. 33. Make it clear which items you'll take yourself, so the movers won't have any questions. 34. First thing, make sure the destination agent knows the address and phone number where you can be reached until you get into your new home. 35. Prepare a "Trip Kit" for moving day, containing anything you'll need while your belongings are in transit. 36. Tape and seal non-toxic cleaning fluids in plastic bags. Discard household oil, paint, aerosol cans, and other flammables and toxic chemicals. 37. Empty, defrost and clean your refrigerator and freezer and clean your stove, all at least 24 hours before moving, to let them air out. Try baking soda or charcoal to get rid of odors. 38. Arrange to pay your mover with cashiers check, traveler's checks, cash, credit card, or direct billing to your employer if previous credit approval is granted. Move-out Day 39. Relax. You already did most of your work. 40. Strip your beds. 41. Be home for the mover's arrival. Then just sit back and watch us work. 42. confirm the delivery date and time at your new address, and make sure the driver has the exact street address and directions. 43. Since you'll probably want to clean before the furniture is off the truck, make sure your vacuum is packed last, so it can be unloaded first. 44. Since your utilities aren't disconnected until the day after moving day, your bill won't come until you reach your new home. Be ready to pay this and other outstanding bills. 45. Your kids will probably want to help. We appreciate the thought, but if possible, it's a good idea to get a baby sitter to supervise children during the packing and loading. 46. If you can't be present moving day because of travel plans, make arrangements for someone to be there to act as your representative. 47. Accompany your driver as he takes inventory and tags each piece of furniture. Make sure the condition of each piece is recorded. 48. Stay in your home until the last item's packed. Make a final inspection before you sign our paperwork. Turn off any remaining utilities. Move-in Day 49. Breath easy. Your belongings have been in good hands while in transit. 50. Be sure you're there when the movers arrive. Plan to stay around while they unload in case they have questions. 51. Arrange before Move-in Day to have your utilities connected. 52. Have the house ready before we arrive. Clean as much as you can without your vacuum cleaner. 53. Make absolutely sure your phone is connected- ideally, you should have the phone company hook it up the day before Move-in Day. 54. The movers will probably have questions. Plan to be available to direct them as they unload. 55. Complete unpacking service is available, but must be arranged with your agent in advance. Limited unpacking and removal of cartons may be requested on Move-in Day. 56. Examine everything as it's unloaded, so you can note its condition on the driver's copy of the Inventory. 57. Meet your new neighbors. Visit your new bank. Look forward to getting settled in after all the excitement of moving in.
Moving Mistakes you can avoid
You've heard all the horror stories about moving: scam movers who hijack your possessions in return for some ridiculously high ransom; untrained crews who show up late or drunk and proceed to trash your prized possessions; or moving company reps who are polite and solicitous until you have a problem, then won't return your calls.With a little planning you can eliminate, or at least reduce, your own moving horror stories. Here are some moving mistakes to avoid:
Time your move wisely. Want a cheaper, easier move? Avoid (in this order) moving during the summer, the very end or beginning of the month (when people like to start a new lease), and the exact middle of the month. Instead, look for dates around the seventh or twenty-first.
Do not call your mover at the last minute. If you start early, you can eliminate stress and might be able to save some money. So how early do you need to call? A lot depends on the time of the year and even the time of the month you're moving. During crunch periods, allow more time. The ideal planning period is one to two months. But Quality is happy just to have two weeks' notice.
Do not automatically hire the lowest estimate. Less-than-reputable companies have been known to low-ball the estimate to get your business, then pad the bill on the back end. Or the low bill could be a sign that you might not be getting a professional crew, or that the company will sub-contract your job to another firm.
Do not Ignore the fact that the name on your moving van doesn't match the name of the company you hired . Chances are you've been subcontracted to another company. Problem: Even if you checked references and licensing, you're now dealing with a total unknown. You may need to pull the plug and reschedule.
Forgetting to tell the company about the stairs in your new home or that oak furniture hiding in the attic. If the estimate is based on a move without stairs and your new home is two flights up, Quality might add that to the cost. So give an honest assessment of the job and you're more likely to get a realistic estimate.
Assuming that moving yourself is cheaper than hiring a pro. Hey, it might be. But when you figure in all of the costs (and many people underestimate how many miles they will drive the rental truck -- a big expense), including your time, you might find it actually pays to hire someone else.
Don't taking our or any moving company at face value. While our moving pro you met is telling the truth, you have to cull the bad apples. You can and should verify what we tell you and check references. How to check references?