How To Prepare For A Move And Avoid Extra Moving Costs

Eric Stewart July 14, 2015

When it comes to a residential move, it is always advisable to select a reputable moving company and get a detailed quote before the move. Although our clients may diligently do both, a move can sometimes exceed the cost detailed in the estimate. 

According to Beltway Movers, one of our preferred moving companies, incurring extra costs are usually due to two factors:

  1. Packing
  2. Move day logistics


Asking movers to pack a home can add 75%-100% to the cost of a local move due to packing materials and labor. To save on the move, customers often opt to do their own boxing and prep.

Unfortunately, some customers are unaware of the true effort to pack up a home. For example, a small single family home can require up to 150 boxes. At 20-30 minutes a box, a customer is looking at 50-75 hours of packing time.

Beltway Movers advises that if you are 4-5 days out from the move and unable to get the packing done, call the moving company and ask them to revise your service agreement to include packing. Additional packing services are going to mean additional dollars, but it won’t be a last minute surprise.

At Beltway Movers, the company takes a few precautions to help an unprepared customer.  They carry extra packing materials on their trucks for last minute packing needs. If the need arises, their movers have been cross-trained as both movers and packers. In addition, their exclusive SmartPack® two tier loading system is a little more forgiving of open top boxes and last minute items put loosely into bags and bundles.

Below are some basic packing guidelines to help your move go more smoothly:

  • Plan for 5-10 cartons per room and one roll of tape for every 10-15 cartons 
  • Label every carton immediately upon sealing
  • Packed cartons should weigh less than 50 lbs
  • Keep items from the same room together as much as possible
  • One carton stacked on another while packing can reduce back strain
  • Consider rental cartons for clothes, lamps, mirrors and pictures

Move Logistics

A moving services agreement is not only an estimate of the cost of a move, but it is a description of the work to be performed. A change in one of those details makes for a longer move day, which also could mean a higher cost.

What will often cause a cost overrun is a change or misunderstanding about parking, elevators, special handling or additional items.

Local moving companies generally charge by the hour. The farther the mover has to park and walk from the truck to the home, the more time is added to the move. A customer can reduce the time by:

  • Blocking off parking on their street with signs and letting neighbors know why this was done
  • Calling the police department in the city and asking them to place no parking signs in front of your house
  • Reserve loading dock space at an elevator building

Many people new to elevator buildings don’t realize that management companies have restricted hours and freight elevators need to be reserved. These types of elevators can be locked off with a key, which will ensure that the elevator is always available for each load, with no waiting time on the clock.

It is always prudent to ask yourself if special handling might be needed to get an item moved out of the old place and into the new place. Additional disassembly? Going out a different door? Removing a bannister? Hoisting? Movers can do all of this, but they need to factor in the time.

There have been times when customers have remodeled a room or assembled a large item in a room and then when it’s time to move, the item will not fit through the doorway.

Finally, think about the list of items to be moved. If you see something in the house not on the list in the service agreement or you weren’t successful in selling an item you originally indicated would not need to be handled by the movers, you want to notify the moving company so the extra time can be factored in by them. Carrying even a curtain rod to the truck is the same amount of walking time as carrying a box or a chair. It can all add up.

A good dispatcher will call their customers the day before a move and talk to them about their moving list and their progress on packing so there are no surprises for either party on move day. 

For more tips on a successful move or guidance on navigating the complexities of selling your home, contact the Eric Stewart Group, or download our free Market Ready Guide. And, for a list of our other recommended vendors, download our complimentary Preferred Vendor Guide.



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