By Bill Adams
Having done an average of 400-900 moving estimates per year over the past 24 years, I would like to share a few tips for the homeowners in their quest to get accurate in-home estimates from their movers of choice.
1. Try to do all of them on the same day, spaced 2 hours apart.
An estimate normally takes about an hour. Moving is a big event, and taking this time out of your normal schedule to interview movers is time well spent. Getting them done on the same day keeps all discussions fresh in your mind. Use the time between appointments to make notes.
2. If possible, have your spouse take part in the process.
If not possible, have the same spouse interview all the movers. Too often, each has different opinions on what is to be moved. I’ve actually gone back for a second walk through with the spouse now present and the inventory looks nothing like the first. Actually, I have a rule when doing a walk through with couples – if one of them wants it, it’s already on the list.
3. Be clear and consistent during the walk through.
Include attics, garages, basements and include any unseen items that will there on load day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that nothing is being moved from the basement, and when I insist on seeing it, there are items that would have been overlooked. “Oh yeah, that freezer’s coming, and so is the workbench.”
It is also many movers’ policy to require the estimator to make a list of items not being moved, on a room by room basis.
Please avoid the word “going” when showing us the items to be moved. This term can mean going away (not being moved), or going to the new house (to be moved). It’s actually pretty common for a client to use this word through the survey and mean both! Consider “taking” and “leaving”, or simply “yes” and “no”.
Be sure to ask for your copy of the inventory from each company, and check it for accuracy.
4. Be sure to ask any and all questions that you may have.
Remember that this is not just price harvesting, but an interview with a company that you may be trusting to move all of your life’s possessions. While most reputable movers have similar pricing, it’s the little things that might help you to decide which one is right one for you.
5. Discuss your anticipated dates for loading and unloading.
Often, price and dates go together. If you’re looking for the best price, be prepared to be flexible with dates. If you’re looking for guaranteed dates on a small load, be prepared to pay a little more for that quick turnaround.
6. Ask for a packing and unpacking estimate.
Even if you are planning to do your own packing, you’ll get a list of the number and size of the cartons you’ll need from each estimator. You might view the cost as a good value, and ask the movers to do it. Or, you might view it as expensive, and you’ll know how much you’re saving by packing yourself. Tip: If you decide to let the movers pack, use your free time to purge the things you don’t want at your new home. Less weight = less shipping cost. Also, the movers will pack everything they see. Fewer boxes = less packing cost.
I’m sure the other pros here have some tips of their own to offer as well, but I promised myself I’d post this in an effort to help those good consumers who are taking the right steps to securing a reputable mover to handle their next move.