CAM Help Sheets:

Smooth Moves: A Guide to Household Moving

Choosing a Mover

Moving is almost always stressful, whether you’re going across town or across the country. However, through careful planning, you can smooth away many of the “wrinkles” from your move. 

Make arrangements for your move at least two weeks in advance. Ask for recommendations from friends who have moved recently, or contact the Better Business Bureau. Then get two or three written estimates from movers. It is often best to consider a mover with long standing in your community as your first choice, not one who appears only in the classified ads.

Be sure you know exactly what you want moved. Also think about what you may be willing to move yourself. Long-distance moves (outside 50 miles) are based on weight and mileage, while local moving is generally an hourly rate for a truck and crew.

Show the move estimator everything you want moved – from the old trunk in the attic to the exercise bike in the basement. This is important, because you’ll be charged more for anything you add on later. Also, discuss any special services you may want, such as having a piano moved, temporary storage if you can’t go directly to your new home, or an exact guaranteed delivery date.

Ready to make a choice? Remember that the lowest price may not be the best value. If you’re using a small firm, for example, be sure that the price includes loading and unloading. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rate, or inquire as to seasonal specials. It can be less expensive to move between October and June.

The Do-It-Yourself Move

You can save money if you prepare, pack, load, and unload yourself. Before you decide on the do-it-yourself approach, think carefully. Do you have the time, energy and skills for the job? Professional movers will pack your belongings in a day or less. Will the money you save by doing the job yourself be worth the extra time?

It is important to realize that you’ll be responsible for damage to any items you have packed yourself. Some movers have free pamphlets that give guidelines for proper packing methods (including office moving and household moving).  

What if my China is Broken?

Your contract with the movers covers how much compensation must be paid if your belongings are broken, damaged or lost during the move. The mover’s basic released liability is $0.60/lb./item on long-distance moves and $0.60/lb./item on local moves. You can request a higher liability (Replacement Value Protection) from the moving company, for which you will have to pay a premium. Even with this increased coverage, the maximum liability for any loss or damage is the greater of the value of the goods that you declare, or $5.00/lb., calculated on the total weight of your shipment. In no instance will the coverage exceed the actual value of the goods.

It is important to understand that the mechanical, electrical and internal workings of any electronics or equipment are exempt. Some firms will compensate in cases where damage has occurred, but only if there is physical damage to the housing of the unit and the items were properly serviced by a technician prior to and after the move.

You are responsible for transporting valuables such as jewellery and important documents. Protect yourself from loss or damage by supervising pickup and delivery. On moving day, the driver will make a tour of your residence and note any deficiencies in the condition of your goods prior to the move. If the move is long-distance, all items will be tagged and a copy of the listing will be supplied to you for your records. Be sure to keep a copy of this list; when you arrive at your new destination, check off each piece, and note any changes to the listings prior to signing the inventories. Otherwise, your mover may decline your claim.

Claims against the moving company must be made within 30 days on a local move and within 60 days on a long-distance move. This is generally the amount of time that you need to look at everything and note any differences. Finally, you may wish to contact your insurance broker to see if you have coverage within your existing policy. It may not save you only time, but money as well.

Paying for the Move

If you (rather than your employer) are paying for the move, you may be asked to pay before the truck is unloaded. This generally occurs on long-distance moves. Payment is in the form of cash, certified cheque, money order, or major credit card. In addition, you may wish to thank the movers with a letter of acknowledgement and a monetary token. Because moving is a service industry, acknowledgement can go a long way to future business referrals.

For More Information

Should you have any questions regarding relocations of any kind, please do not hesitate to contact the Canadian Association of Movers or any of its members. They would be happy to discuss your moving and storage options, as well as any of your general moving or packing needs.

(Document provided courtesy of Scott Hickling, Lo-Cost Moving & Storage, Calgary)

Recommended Practices for Choosing a Mover

You are about to move and have to choose a mover. You will be offered a wide variety of services at prices that differ from mover to mover. Some prices will be significantly different from others. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What am I risking by not fully checking out my mover?
    (Hint: All my possessions will be in their care.)
  2. Will my goods arrive on time, complete and in good condition?
  3. Is this mover capable of doing the job?

When choosing a mover, it’s important to find out all you can about the company:

  1. Do a reference check with your local Better Business Bureau or the Canadian Association of Movers.
  2. Has the mover got a street address? Visit it and see if the facility is the kind of space where you would want your furniture stored. Look at their vehicles.
  3. Ask the mover for references. Remember, you will only get the good ones. Ask for one when there was a problem, and ask the party involved how the problem was resolved.
  4. Is the price significantly lower than others? Is this because the mover is using shoddy equipment, minimal or sub-standard packing material or untrained personnel?
  5. Is the deal for cash? If it is, chances are you won’t have to pay taxes and the mover is not going to pay them to the government. BUT there is no record of your move and the mover will assume no liability for losses or damage.
  6. Does the mover have an insurance certificate? If he does, then when you pay for insurance, your goods are insured; if he does not, then…good luck!
  7. Does he have a Workers’ Compensation Board certificate? If he does, no problem; if not, you may be liable for any injuries incurred by his workers on your premises.

We have learned about the problems our customers face through the complaints we hear daily. The above are a few precautions you can take to ensure your household goods arrive at their destination, when and how you wanted them.

The Ins and Outs of Moving: What You Need to Know to Do it Right

It’s the big day. Moving day. For weeks you’ve spent time planning, worrying and working to make sure all of your belongings make their way to the new destination without a hitch.

If you’ve planned well, this day will be stress-free and an exciting adventure. If you planned poorly, however, moving day will be full of problems, headaches and, in some cases, disasters. So how do you avoid a bad situation? For starters, plan ahead, don’t leave too much up to chance and keep a sense of humour (if you can).

Below are others’ tips:

  • Ask to have your moving company give you a guaranteed cost. This will help you avoid an unexpected bill in the future.
  • Make arrangements with your mover as far in advance as possible. Last-minute calls during the busy season may mean spending extra money or not finding a mover at all.
  • If you’re moving into an apartment, reserve the elevator.
  • If you are moving into a house, arrange for street parking if needed. In the winter, make sure that the driveway is cleared of snow.
  • Moving in the winter can throw you challenges you never thought of. Do not put objects that can’t be frozen in the truck. Keep them with you.
  • Keep your valuables with you. That means jewellery, money and important documents. Movers will not accept responsibility for these items.
  • Leave clothing and bedding in dresser drawers. Remove breakables and don’t overload.
  • Leave furniture in its original place. Don’t move it all to one room.
  • Keep any luggage you will need on the trip separate.
  • Take your telephone book with you. There will probably be a few times when you’ll need to contact someone from your old city or town. A telephone book means you won’t have to pay the long-distance bill for that area’s telephone information service.
  • Take down any pictures, fixtures or photos hanging from the wall before the movers arrive.
  • If you will be packing yourself, start well in advance of moving day. Discard any unwanted items.
  • Defrost your freezer before moving day. Pack food in boxes, laundry baskets or clear plastic bags. Try to use up as much food as possible in the weeks before the move.
  • Mark the sides and the top of cartons for easy identification. You will want to write a quick summary of contents, as well as the room (i.e., kitchen, main bedroom) in which they’re required.
  • Be careful not to overpack a carton. Heavy items (such as hardcover books) should be packed in smaller containers.
  • If you have pets, be sure you have carrying cages.
  • Hire a babysitter for the day if you have children.
  • Walk through your house or apartment with the mover indicating special-care items or giving specific instructions. Always be sure there is someone to do this with the mover. This step might help you avoid heartache when your belongings arrive at the new house.
  • Verify the delivery address with the mover and provide information about how you can be contacted at the new dwelling.
  • Try to be at the new home before the movers start unloading. Know where you want your belongings placed.

Some specialized tips:

  • Books: pack in small cartons.
  • Canned Goods: pack upright with no more than 24–30 cans per box. Wrap glass containers.
  • Plants: you may want to keep plants with you.
  • China and Glassware: clearly mark boxes “FRAGILE.” Stuff glassware and china with tissue (if you use newspaper, be prepared to clean all glassware upon arrival at the new destination). Pack plates, platters and saucers on edges, not flat, and pad in layers as well as along the top and bottom of the box.
  • Clocks: remove or secure pendulums in large clocks. An expert should prepare grandfather clocks.
  • Clothes: pack in clean cartons.
  • Drapes and Curtains: remove curtains from rods. Fold and pack in cartons or dresser drawers.
  • Flammables and Combustibles: these items must not be packed as temperature changes can cause them to leak or explode. Your mover will not be held responsible.
  • Lamps and Lampshades: Remove bulbs, harps, and shades. Roll up cord. Pack lamps with bedding or wrap separately and place upright in lined cartons. Wrap shades in tissue rather than a newspaper. Place upright inlined carton.
  • Medicines: seal caps with masking tape, wrap and place in small cartons. Keep those you need with you.
  • Mirrors, Paintings, and Pictures: tell your mover about special-care items. Wrap small mirrors, pictures, paintings, and frames, and place upright at the edge of cartons. Large items should also be left upright in larger, sturdier containers. Place tape diagonally across mirrors for protection. Do not use newspaper to protect paintings.
  • Computers and Video Equipment: pack in original boxes if possible. Otherwise, use strong corrugated cartons and protective pads. Place additional padding between cartons and equipment. Wrap cords separately and label.
  • Microwave Ovens: remove and wrap all loose articles from inside the oven. Tape the door shut with an X pattern over the door and glass. Use the original manufacturer box if possible. Label box.
  • Records, CDs, and Stereos: CDs and records should be placed upright in cartons. Wrap the stereo in an old blanket and place in a carton.
  • Silverware: wrap each piece in cloth or low-sulfur-content paper to prevent tarnishing. Use an old blanket or moving pad as wrapping to prevent scratching the silverware chest.
  • Appliances and Utensils: wrap and place small appliances and utensils in cartons. Place heavier items on the bottom. Have an authorized service person prepare all large appliances for moving. Call for this service well in advance.
  • Tools: discharge the batteries in tools. Pack in strong, small cartons. Wrap separately if valuable.