Plan ahead to cut costs and reduce stress
Fact: The average person in the United States moves an average of 11.4 times, according to FiveThirtyEight advice columnist Mona Chalabi. Some moves may be so close to your current home that you can handle hauling on your own with help from a few friends and your car or by renting a small truck.
Others may include bigger loads and be farther away, enough to require the expertise of a skilled moving company. You may even have a piano that demands special expertise to transport the delicate item safely, with legs taken apart first and then added later. Regardless, you should take your time and simplify the process by planning the move far in advance. Here are 10 key points to help.
1. Get recommendations. As with any big undertaking, ask friends and family and even real-estate salespeople for names of experienced moving companies. Look online for Yelp reviews, check their background for years in business and complaints or law suits filed with organizations such as a Better Business Bureau. Interview three in person, and be sure to compare apples to apples, says Keith Snode, vice president of sales and marketing at Flat Rate Moving, based in New York City.
2. Obtain price estimates. If the distance between the consumer’s home and the company’s office or its agent’s office is within 50 miles, the estimate must be based on a physical survey of client goods, according to Manuela Irwin, Business Development Executive of theMovingBlog.com, based in Boston. Consumers can waive this requirement that both parties can sign before the shipment is loaded. The pricing of each move gets calculated by weight for long-distance moves–typically more than 100 miles, or the time needed to complete a local move, plus additional services such as packing and unpacking, disassembling and assembling furniture, handling bulky items, storage, and so on, says Irwin. Prices fluctuate during the year. In New York, the busiest times are the last days of a month and first days of the next month, says Snode. He recommends some flexibility if possible. From May to September costs more, Irwin says. If you move locally, you might consider a flat-rate service company such as Flat Rate, which thinks it was first to base price on volume, not by time. "Distance factors in but it’s minimal" Snode says. Also understand what a "binding quote" means, he says. "If you list all furniture and forgot to add a chair and want to add that to your quote, you negate the original quote."
3. Get rid of what you don’t want to move in advance. It’s best if you first scale back furniture and possessions you don’t plan to move so they don’t clutter the estimator’s vision of what you will be taking. Don’t forget to show them an attic or basement filled with stored items, too, if you plan to move contents there.
4. Ask about valuation options. Federal law requires movers to offer two valuation options: Released Value Protection that is free of charge and compensation equals 60 cents times each pound, or Full Value Protection, which requires movers to repair or replace any items or make a cash settlement based on the current market replacement value, says Irwin. The latter plan is subject to each company policy. The industry minimum replacement value is usually $6 per pound, so the standard amount is calculated by multiplying the estimated weight of the shipment times $6 per pound, Irwin says. Some companies offer replacement value of between $8 and $12 per pound. The amount of valuation a consumer declares on the Bill of Lading is the total maximum liability for loss or damage while the shipment is in a mover’s "hands." Movers can also offer different deductible levels. Movers aren’t liable for any items they won’t move, sometimes jewelry, plants or expensive wine, and there’s a fine line regarding what you pack yourself, says Snode. Some consumers may want to secure insurance from a third party if their homeowners insurance doesn’t cover certain items in transit.
5. Pare costs. There are additional costs if the mover is packing you up, and you’ll pay extra for packing materials, or if the movers unpack, dispose of packing materials, and arrange items, you also will be charged additionally. Some companies may give you some free boxes or a discount, or even place items in specific rooms but be sure to ask in advance what the estimates include.
6. Update appraisals and inventory everything. This is not a time to leave anything to chance. Make a detailed visual list with your iphone or a video camera of what you’re moving (you’ll be glad you did in case something is lost or broken during the move), and list items in writing by the boxes they’re packed in, so you can check off each one as it leaves your house and then when it arrives at the new destination. For example, one box may contain your family silverware, which you’ve previously had appraised; another may contain all your family photos. You can’t put a value on the latter, but you still want to know they arrived safely. Make a copy and keep these lists and images in a file, on your computer in a word document, on an excel spreadsheet, or store via iCloud.
7. Make a plan where everything will go. In addition to labeling the contents of each box, you want to note the room in which each item will go. Example: Silverware, box 1, goes into the dining room. This way the movers know where to place everything, and you don’t have to move stuff again.
8. The day of the move. Be sure you are present and check off boxes and furnishings as they are taken to the moving truck. Make sure nothing is left behind. Try to be present when the contents arrive at your new home. Again, pull out your inventory list and do a double check that all has arrived.
9. Unpacking. This can be overwhelming if you’re moving dozens–maybe even more than 100 boxes. Check for breakage and, if boxed, keep it in the box until you file a claim. If the movers aren’t unpacking you, remember you don’t have to unpack all at once but can do so slowly. Save boxes and return them to the store where you purchased them if you can get some of your money back, or break them down and save for a future move or simply recycle.
10. Breakage or loss. Interstate movers are required by law to inform clients about an arbitration policy. Each company’s claim process may vary for anything destroyed or in need of repair. Take a photo of the item that was damaged and save it for inspection rather than try first to get it repaired. Email a photo of the item before it was broken and, if it’s crated or in a box, save the box with the broken parts. Contact the company and representatives you dealt with. Most companies have a written claim form you’ll fill out and within the company’s set time frame. A claims adjuster will be assigned who will find a repair company to inspect damaged items and estimate the cost to repair or replace.
Once the move is finished and everything is in place, you can put your feet up, relax on your sofa or favorite chair, and take pleasure in the place you now call home.