There are 2 ways to move: a moving company that comes in and packs everything and delivers it to your new home. Then there is the more DIY which involves you doing all or some of your own packing and transporting,
For the past 30 years a part of our business has been doing Insurance Inspections. Many of these are for moving companies whose customers have had damage to their goods during the move. The majority of moves are very successful with little or no damage, but there are the moves which do not end happily for the people moving. We have heard some horror stories where we leave shaking our heads and wonder what the packers, movers, and those moving were thinking. We have put together some hints to assist you if you are planning a move across town, across the country, or internationally.
If you are hiring a moving company here are some hints that might help you have a successful move with little or no damage.
Ask Questions when Choosing the Movers
You need to know how many pounds they are estimating for your move. This is one way they use to come up with the cost of your move. If they underestimate the weight your cost can be higher, and they may not come with the right size truck. Our first move was estimated at 10,000 pounds. We had appliances, 2 kids with toys, books, and all the other household stuff. They did not have enough room in the truck they sent, so we had to wait for another truck to pack the excess. It took 3 extra weeks to get all of our goods. I thought the weight was low, but I never voiced my concern and never asked one question.
Ask how many packers they will be sending. If they are sending 2 packers and allowing 1 day to pack, question if they need to add more time. If the timing doesn’t sound reasonable, QUESTION. You don’t want them taking short cuts when they pack.
Prepare for the Worse Move Ever
Take pictures of all of your furniture, any items that are extremely fragile, any expensive items, your items with sentimental value, and anything that would break you heart if it was damaged or broken.
If you have antiques, electronics, or any expensive items, purchase extra insurance and inform the moving company of these items.
If you have any items that you feel will need special packing, inform the company before the packing day. I have two pieces of furniture each over 100 years old that have marble tops. The tops are removable and I wanted to make sure that these marble pieces were not broken in the move. The company sent someone out who took measurements and on packing day there were 2 wood boxes custom made to hold each piece of marble.
if you have expensive pieces, buy the extra insurance for those pieces. Be sure the insurance you buy is for replacement value. You don’t want to be told that your expensive television you just purchased is now worth half of what you paid because of depreciation.
How Many Packers Are Coming
If you read hint #1, you know how many packers are coming to pack your goods. If not, give the movers a call and find out. This is important for a very successful move. We suggest you have the same number of helpers on the days of the pack as packers. It is important to watch the packers. If you are watching you will catch the obvious mistakes. If grandma’s china is being packed in a box without each piece being wrapped, SAY SOMETHING? If you don’t like the way they are wrapping up your table, TELL THEM? When they take apart a piece of furniture, have Ziplocks available to hold the hardware. Make sure the bag is labeled and packed with or attached to the furniture where it belongs. You would be surprised how many times the nuts and bolts are missing in a move and it is almost impossible to buy new nuts and bolts that will work in your furniture. Make sure all pieces are either packed together in one box or bundled together. WATCH, QUESTION, SPEAK-UP. These should be your watchwords on packing day.
It is also very important to watch as they pack the truck. Speak-up if you do not like the way the packing is going. We have seen the king sized mattress folded in half and strapped, a refrigerator, boxes and other furniture packed on top of a mattress, and furniture not wrapped at all with items stacked on top. These are just a few of the disasters we have seen in our years inspecting moving damage.
Your packers might not be happy with your questions or advice, but this is your furniture, your memories, and you have spent your money on their purchase. You have the right to make sure you are happy with what is happening to your household goods.
What to do if you have a claim
When everything has been delivered, try to unpack and inspect every box. You have a limited amount of time to file an insurance claim, if you move in February and don’t open your Christmas decorations you may be out of luck if all of your ornaments have been shattered. Take photos of any damage and include the photos with your claim. Save any broken pieces until after your claim has been settled.
If you follow these suggestions you will have a greater chance of all of you belongings reaching your new home with little or no damage.
Start off with a plan. Are you going to rent or borrow a moving truck or use a smaller pick-up truck? Are you going to have to do this move over 1 weekend or can you spread it out over a few weeks? Will you have lots of help? These are a few questions you need to answer and then plan accordingly.
I suggest you collect or buy your boxes early. If you are going to be packing a truck or trailer for a long move you might want to think about buying the boxes instead of collecting any box you can find. I know this is an area where you might think you can save money, but having the same size boxes can save you in the long run. When packing a truck or trailer space and organization are key to getting the most items in the space. By having boxes that are the same size you will save space by eliminating odd size boxes pilled on top of each other. Having like size boxes also makes a stack more stable, which will lessen shifting, sliding, and falling over in a move. If you are packing your car or van for a move across town, then go cheap and find boxes that are free.
After you have decided on the boxes make a list of whatever you will need to pack those boxes.
1. Paper to wrap everything. This is not a place to try and save money, go to a home supply store and buy lots of packing paper. In fact, more than you think you will ever need. You don’t want to run out and have to make a store run in the middle of packing. What you don’t use you can return.
2. Packing tape. Buy the large rolls that include a dispenser. You will appreciate this when you don’t have to try and find the end of the tape to close a box.
3. Large Sharpie markers at least 2 you will be lebleing lots of boxes.
5. Ziplocks in different sizes. Use these to group hardware that you have removed from items you take apart. Label each bag and pack in one box that has also been labeled or attach them to the item. They are also good to put small like items to keep them from getting lost. Also, use ziplocks to bag liquid items, nothing is worse than opening a box where everything is covered in syrup. Or one of my favorite horror stories, the box of unwrapped perfume bottles placed on a wooded dresser. The big white square of wood under the box was not pretty,
6. Large roll of saran wrap. You can use this to wrap items like small storage boxes with drawers.
7. Cardboard pieces to place over glass doors or frames.
8. Old blankets to wrap furniture. You can also buy furniture pads or paper that can be wrapped around items. But I find that a trip to a thrift store to pick-up some old blankets is cheaper. After the move you can donate them back.
9. Bubblewrap - This is a must if you have fine crystal or delicate figurines. It will give you another layer of protection.
10. Trash bags of different sizes - This will allow you to pack anything you do not want getting dirty. If you pack towels in a box that will be placed in an open truck or trailer there is a real good chance that road dust will get into the box. By packing the towels in a trash bag first you will eliminate the need to wash, dry, and fold your towels before putting them away in your new home.
11. Take a photo of the back of each TV before you disconnect all of the wires. When you are ready to set-up the TV in your new home you can just follow the photos for each of the wires.
Start packing early, you can pack everything that is not necessary for everyday living way in advance of a move. This will make the move less stressful in the long run. If on moving day all you need to pack are a few boxes of necessities it will be less exhausting.
After our first move I learned by watching the packers that the key to getting everything to your new destination in one piece was packing and wrapping.
Before you start to pack, place a cover on top of your dining room table, have all of you packing items near by, then begin by bringing like items to the table.
Pack the glasses together in one box. Never pack anything breakable in a box with pots and pans. To begin, spread out all of the one pack of packing paper. If you are packing breakable items scrunch up a few sheets and place them in the bottom of the box. Then take the item and using 2 or 3 sheets of paper begin to roll and fold the paper around the item, put it in the box and continue until the box is full. If you have space in the box fill the space with scrunched up paper. Label the box. I like to label with the room the items are going and what’s in the box. As an example: Glasses, Kitchen. I also label on more than one side so it can be seen no matter which way the box is sitting.
Pack a moving day box.
This would include anything you think you will need on the first day in your new home. Here is a list to get you started. Toilet paper, paper towels, sheets and blankets for each bed, towels, soap (hand & bath), toothpaste and toothbrushes, a clean outfit for the next day, sleepwear, paper plates, cups, & utensils, toys and books to keep young kids occupied for a while, 1st aid kit, siissors and a knife to open boxes, phone chargers, and a small tool kit. Pack this box early and keep it with you on moving day. Just think of the stress you can eliminate if you don’t have to search every box label looking for sheets after a long day of moving.
Protecting large and heavy items
You must remember to wrap and protect everything you are packing. Just because it is large and heavy doesn’t mean that your refrigerator can’t ge damaged in a move, Your refrigerator, entertainment center, and curio cabinets should be emptied. Take any removable items, and hardware such as shelf holders off. Bag the hardware and wrap and/or pack the loose items. Label all items for easy installation in your new home. Secure all doors and drawers on item then wrap it up. If you are using old blankets warp the item and secure tightly with packing tape, unless it is obvious what this wrapped item is label it so you can easily move it to the right room.
Packing the Truck
If you are packing a truck or trailer, even if you are just moving across town, you can save time and reduce the stress if you have a plan. Heavy items like refrigerator, washer & dryer, exercise equipment, and large items like dressers, entertainment unit, and sofa should be packed in the back of the truck. As you pack a row of items place smaller boxes or other wrapped items in the empty spaces, then strap that first row to the truck. Continue with the rest of your large items. If you are going to be making more than one trip in a smaller truck or trailer only pack 1 or 2 rows with large or heavy items, then fill in with smaller, lighter pieces or boxes.
When you are stacking boxes if you have different sizes try to pack boxes of approximately the same size together. Always fill in empty spaces with smaller items or use old blankets or packing paper. When the truck is full strap everything down, look for anything that has room to move and secure it. Even if you are only moving down the street items can move and get damaged. If you pack the truck and secure everything you will lessen your chances of damage and will probably make less trips in your move.
I hope this blog will help you plan and execute as perfect a move as possible. It's a lot of work but that new house and your new life in it is all worth the trouble.