Getting the Right Moving Estimate
How do you begin to choose someone you trust to pack and move your belongings? What will it cost? What's the best way to compare figures on move estimates?
Even if you don't know the exact date or location of where you're moving, you can still select a mover and get approximate costs. A great way to find good moving companies is to ask friends and family for referrals. Contact about three or so professional moving companies to provide estimates ahead of time. Read USA Moving & Storage testimonials and reviews on Google and Yelp!
Each moving company will send a representative to your home to review your needs and develop an estimate; or you may be able to receive one online or over the phone. You can then compare numbers and make your final decision.
Before meeting with any representatives:
Get rid of any items you no longer want/need or at least mark and set them aside.
Know your exact destination and set an approximate date for the move.
Decide whether you want an estimate for packing done by the company.
Determine whether you'll need a self-storage space , and for how long.
Prepare any questions you want to ask.
Meet with the Mover
Reach out to the company and make an appointment for the movers to come to your home. Give each prospective moving company exactly the same information, and ask the same questions. This way you make a fair assessment of their qualifications and costs.
When the representative arrives, they will discuss their company's track record, services, and policies. They may also give you a set of packing and moving information.
Ask your questions as though it is a job interview, because it is. In addition to experience and rates, find out how they handle special or fragile items, such as artwork, pianos, or vehicles. Also ask about packing supplies.
Specify which services you're considering: for example, packing, storage , or moving.
Give the moving company representative a walkthrough tour of your home. He or she will figure the weight as well as the quantity and types of boxes needed. They will also note any items requiring special handling or crating. Indicate which items you intend to pack or move yourself as well as which items will not be moved. Make sure to go through all rooms of the house, including the attic, basement, garage, and any outbuildings.
Find out when you should expect the estimate and determine if it will be binding or nonbinding. In a binding estimate, the total cost of the move is guaranteed based on estimated quantities and specified services. A nonbinding estimate is the company's approximation of the final cost, which will be recalculated with what ends up being the actual weight, actual labor, and other figures when available.
Interpreting the Estimate
Moving companies will have different estimate forms , make sure to look for key information:
An itemized list of boxes and other packing materials you'll need, along with their quantities and costs.
Rates for packing/unpacking services for the specified quantities and types of boxes
Weight, cubic feet, mileage information, and their associated charges. Costs for storage, including weight, cubic feet, and length of time (if applicable).
Cost for additional services (crating, pianos, vehicles, appliance servicing, stairs, etc.)
Insurance costs and coverage details.
Carefully review the details of the estimate. Be sure all the information is there and find out how long the estimate is valid.
Analyzing the Bottom Line
When all the estimates are in, you can compare:
Packing material amounts.
Rates for hourly labor, volume, weight, and mileage.
Any free or discounted items, such as packing supplies or storage.
Moving companies have differing formulas for estimating costs, so don't hesitate to call for clarification on any details.
Be sure to have the means for fair comparison among moving companies; negotiate to get the best price possible.
And the winner is...
When you finish comparing the figures of each moving estimate, you're finally ready to make a selection . You could base your choice solely on the lowest total cost, but also consider:
Personal referrals or experiences with the company.
The company's professionalism and reputation; online reviews .
Your dealings with them so far: Has the representative been responsive, communicative, and positive?
A word of caution: in many cases, signing the moving estimate indicates you're ordering the work to be done as described. If you invest energy into finding the right partnership, you will be well-rewarded on moving day.
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