Getting quotes for removals – before you exchange contracts
Unless you’re seriously considering doing all the heavy lifting yourself, now’s the time to obtain quotes for removals. In most cases this needs to be done before exchange, because by leaving it any later there’s a risk that all the decent firms will be booked up. Quotes from 3 removal firms should be sufficient. The booking can be firmed up directly after exchange.
The best way to choose removal firms is by personal recommendation from friends and colleagues. Otherwise, a good local estate agent should be able to point you in the right direction. To avoid cowboys, it helps to pick a member of the British Association of Removers, because should anything go seriously wrong you have the reassurance of knowing that you could lodge a complaint or even seek compensation. Other industry organisations whose members follow approved codes of practice include the Removals Industry Ombudsman Scheme and the National Guild of Removers and Storers.
A representative from each firm will duly pay you a visit to try and comprehend exactly how much stuff they’ll be dealing with. This may take anything from a brief 10 minutes to over half an hour. They will ask whether you’re opting for the ‘removals only service’ or the ‘full packing service’ (see below). At this stage you may want to keep your options open and get quotes for both services.
Careful planning ahead should ensure a smooth move on the day. For example, any really large, awkward pieces of furniture should be flagged up. Sometimes the only way to accommodate giant four-piece sofas and monster wardrobes is by temporarily removing windows. An experienced eye should spot potential obstacles.
If you want them to quote for packing, mention any items likely to require special treatment, such as valuable antiques and paintings. Point out any awkwardly shaped objects, and any exceptionally heavy or bulky items that will need prior dismantling.
Tell them whether you intend to move any items yourself, otherwise you’ll be charged for moving anything that isn’t bolted down. Ideally write out a list of everything to be moved and give them a copy, not forgetting to include the contents of your garage, loft and garden shed. Make a note of any carpets or curtains that you’re taking with you – and who’s job it is to prepare them for transportation. The quotes should arrive within about a week.
Most people do their own packing, paying only for a removal firm to shift their stuff from A to B. This is a sensible choice that allows you to save money , whilst professional removal staff take the effort out of all the lifting and carrying. Some removal firms will even be happy to loan you dozens of cardboard boxes free of charge a couple of weeks in advance, on the condition that they’re returned within a few weeks of moving in. Other firms make a small charge per box. Thankfully the use of traditional wooden ‘tea chests’ with razor-sharp edges is now a thing of the past.
Full packing service
Doing all the packing yourself is incredibly tiresome and time-consuming, so you may actually be better off opting for the ‘full packing service’, leaving you free to concentrate on other important tasks. There’s an art to packing correctly so that your stuff doesn’t get damaged, smashed or leak all the way to your new home. Trained staff have the skill to pack your goods safely and get the job done in a fraction of the time that it would take you to do it. On the other hand, some folk would regard sifting through their stuff as too intimate a business to entrust to complete strangers. There’s an urban myth that removal men working for some less reputable firms routinely place bets as to whether or not the lady of the house owns a battery-powered ‘marital aid’. So you may want to pack any sensitive or especially valuable items yourself.
To help assess competitive quotes on a like-for-like basis, it helps if the prices are itemised so that you can compare hourly rates, insurance and packing costs. But price is by no means the only factor. Without wishing to put a dampener on things, it’s worth considering what would happen should problems arise. Occasionally, completion doesn’t quite work to plan and you could be left stuck at the last minute with a lorry-load of possessions and nowhere to put them. So you want a firm that can provide emergency storage facilities.
One key factor to consider when picking your removal firm is what kind of insurance cover they have. What would happen if the van driver had to perform an emergency stop en route, scrambling your valuable goods and chattels beyond recognition? And are you covered in the event that something inadvertently goes missing? Insurance is especially important if your goods are going to be left in their care overnight, or if you have high value items. Sometimes the cover that removal firms provide is woefully inadequate, so it might be worth taking personal responsibility for transporting precious possessions. Otherwise your existing contents insurance may provide some additional cover.
Bear in mind also that some removal companies charge more for moves on a Friday and there may be a surcharge for weekends.
With every last penny already allocated, it can be tempting to save money by picking the cheapest removal firm on God’s earth. But on top of all the stress of the last few months the last thing you need now is to see your prize assets end up in shattered fragments or being redistributed on eBay. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t still negotiate a ‘cracking’ deal.
Our next blog – coming soon …….
Exchange of Contracts
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