do I Begin?
Okay, you are ready to move. Where do you start? You need
to obtain 3 estimates from 3 different local moving companies.
Ask your neighbours, friends, or co-workers to recommend a
local company that they used. Find out who performed their
estimate, the name of the moving foreman, the names of the
other movers, and names of the packers if they are different
from actual movers. If they can't remember names, they may
be able to describe the individuals. If you cannot obtain
any referrals, check your local Yellow Pages or an Internet
site for local moving companies in your area. Do not base
your choice solely on the hourly rate for local moving. This
rate, which is usually for 2 movers and a van, may vary by
as much as $15 an hour for some companies. This may be a factor
in your final decision, but it is not the most important one...more
on this to come.
Each of the companies you chose to consider will send a salesperson
(estimator) to your house to provide you with a free estimate.
The estimate should include a separate amount for men, vans,
packing, materials and insurance. It should also include the
address you are moving to if possible. If you are not sure
of the address you are moving to the day your estimate is
made, your guaranteed price will be subject to change based
on conditions at your final destination such as the number
of stairs, the distance from the truck to the front door,
and the accessibility of your destination for a large van.
If possible, always have the estimator view your destination
before they make their final estimate. Each state has its
own rules. In California, the local moving company must provide
you with a guaranteed price before they begin to move. A guaranteed
price (GP) is the exact amount a company will charge you for
the services they agreed to perform on the estimate. This
must be in writing, and verbal estimates are considered illegal.
This law was passed to stop companies from quoting low-ball
estimates over the phone and then charging you twice as much
on moving day. Once your receive your estimates, you can compare
the GP of each estimate. If Moving Company A estimates your
move will take 10 hours and its rate for two men and a van
is $70 an hour, the GP is $700. This assumes you did not want
packing or insurance and will provide your own cartons (material).
Moving company B estimates your move will only take 6 hours
but its rate for two men and a van is $90. Even though company
A appeared to be the less expensive of the two, company B
appears to consider its movers more efficient. Even if company
B's movers take ten hours, the most they can charge you for
the move is $540. The best way to move, if possible, is with
the Not to Exceed Price (NTE) estimate. If company A estimates
your move will take 10 hours at $70 and it only takes 6 hours
to complete the move, you will only be charged for the 6 hours
or $420. The NTE price of $700 would be the most you would
have to pay. The movers could "beat" the estimate
but can not exceed it. This method of estimating is very common
in California and should be requested in other states when
you receive your estimates.
The Movers Not The Company
If you chose a company without knowing any of its movers,
ask the estimator to provide you with the name of an experienced
foreman and the "helpers" who will be on your move.
This is the #1 rule when hiring a moving company: make sure
you know who your movers will be on move day. Use the names
of the movers your friends, neighbours or estimator referred
to you. Make these movers part of your contract.
local moving company has someone who will be planning your
move day once you have chosen the company. It may be the manager,
dispatcher, owner, operations manager, or even the estimator
who came to your house. This depends on the size and structure
of the company. For this article he/she will be the moving
coordinator or "MC."
MC of the company you choose may have a choice of 15 movers
to schedule for your move. Of this 15, 5 may be foreman. The
next 10 movers of the company are the foreman's helpers. These
helpers will be assigned to each foreman depending on the
requirements of the move. Their experience may also vary greatly.
your job requires 3 movers, ask for 2 extra names in case
some of the movers cannot make it to work that day. A name
of a backup foreman is also important because a "helper"
may not be experienced enough to run a move. Size is important
The size of your van is very important on moving day and something
that many experienced homeowners or renters overlook when
choosing a mover.
sure you know what size truck will arrive at your house or
apartment on moving day. Make van size part of your contract.
Some local companies charge the same rate whether you arrange
for a 50-foot van or a 12-foot van to move your household
items. Make sure your estimator has allowed for plenty of
empty space in your moving van. Since you are paying by the
hour, having to make double trips will add a lot of expense
to your move.
may want to contract for two vans to arrive on moving day
if the size of your van is limited for some reason, i.e. low
hanging trees, narrow street, and steep driveway. An extra
van will help to speed your move up and may cost you only
a nominal fee.
There are three different ways to pack up your household items.
You can do it all yourself, have the local moving company
partially pack some of your items, or you can have them pack
everything. If you have anyone else other than the local moving
company pack your items understand that the local moving company
is not liable for any of the damage that occurred inside of
the cartons during your move.
If you pack yourself, it is always best to pack the day before
if possible. When loading a truck, it is very hard to load
your household goods efficiently if the foreman has to wait
for all the cartons to be packed. *
by the hour is a good choice if you have hired experienced,
fast packers. You can obtain these packers the same way you
obtained your movers. Make them part of your contract for
packing day. Most local companies have certain movers who
are very good packers. The larger moving companies may employ
a professional packing contractor who specializes only in
packing and crating up household goods. Ask your estimator
about this. A unit or carton pack is a very profitable way
of packing for a local moving company if the packers are fast.
They may be charging $24 to pack up one dish pack.
good packer can pack 3 of these in one hour which means you
are being charged $72 an hour for packing instead of the hourly
rate of $40 an hour! You will be charged a different rate
depending on the type of carton being packed. A book carton
will be very inexpensive to pack because it takes little time
to put books into a carton. A painting will be more expensive
because wrapping and packing a valuable piece of art is time-consuming.
* A good way to save money and also have your valuables insured
on moving day is to employ the company to partially pack your
sure your estimate is clear on the items to be packed. The
packers can pack all of the breakable items such as china,
glass, and ceramics. You may also feel safer having someone
with experience packing these items. The non-breakable items
that do not take much experience to pack such as books and
clothes will be packed by you. The best reason to hire the
best packers is not to save you money but because of the quality
of work. The more expensive your household goods are, the
more money becomes a non-issue. Even if you have insured your
valuable vase, the sentimental value cannot be insured. Local
moving companies have a shortage of experienced packers. Packing
is usually done by the more experienced movers in the company,
so your good packers may also be your best movers.
when to move You have the company you want, the movers, the
packers, and the exact truck, but now you need to pick a day
of the week. Most people choose to do their moving during
the summer months when their kids are out of school or during
vacation. Moving companies need to hire seasonal help to meet
this demand. This translates into inexperienced movers during
these busy months. This problem also exists during the end
and beginning of each month when everybody's lease is up,
and on Fridays when people take off work. You want to avoid
moving during these busy periods if possible.
chance of your crew being inexperienced increases on these
days. If you have made certain movers a condition of your
contract you have already avoided this problem. Tuesdays and
Wednesdays during the middle of the month are the best days
to move if you have not planned ahead. By Thursday, the best
movers are getting tired from the last three days of tough
jobs and on Friday's, all the good movers are usually allocated
to the customers that planned ahead. If your move is scheduled
to take up only part of the day, I would advise moving first
thing in the morning. The movers will be fresher and in better
first job may take longer than expected and you may have to
arrange to move on another day. Small moves All this may seem
like a lot of trouble if you just want to move a small one
bedroom apartment with a few pieces of furniture and 20-30
boxes. You may not want to get three estimates - but you should
follow my advice in talking to the MC or the salesperson on
the phone. Remember to find a respected company and then ask
for their best mover, packer, and a truck that will easily
fit all your items without much trouble. Inform the movers
before the move begins that they will be compensated for being
efficient and careful with your items. This should inspire
the movers to move quickly and not "drag" out the