After months of searching for a new home, it’s finally official – soon you’ll be on the move.
Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, deciding how to transport all your worldly possessions is a big one and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Making the move yourself may sound like a reasonably priced option, but it could cost you more than just cash. If the thought of begging friends and family with pick-up trucks to give up a Saturday to haphazardly drag your heirloom piano or prized record collection to their new location keeps you up at night, then you’ll need to hire a professional moving company.
These 7 tips for hiring a quality mover will help you navigate through the confusing process, know what to consider when hiring a moving company, and get you on your way to a safe and smooth relocation project.
1. Know what you need
Before you even Google “Moving Companies,” it’s important to know exactly what you need them to do.
- Are you going to pack your own boxes and just need help with the heavy items or are you pressed for time and need a full-scale pack and transfer?
- If you need a long-distance move, how fast will you need your items moved out of one home and delivered to the other? You can’t be in two places at once, so you’ll need to make arrangements with others to stay with the movers or meet the truck at the other end.
- Do you have items that require special attention—are they fragile, valuable or difficult to move?
- When do you need to move? It’s easier to provide a general timeframe for your move when you’re starting the process. You can choose a specific day when you’re ready to sign a contract.
What to Purge When Getting Ready to Move
2. Get an in-home survey
If you’ve only got a single-item move, a phone estimate is probably sufficient. However, an in-home survey should be required for a whole-house move so the estimator can correctly calculate the items you plan to transport. Be sure to identify which items you won’t want on the truck—you should have a good idea which items you plan to sell, give away, donate or leave behind prior to the visual inspection.
A good mover will also take measurements of door openings, staircases, and hallways to get a good understand of problem areas. Save time and money on moving day by taking doors off hinges or removing railings from narrow staircases ahead of time.
3. Get several quotes & get them in writing
With everything you need to do to prepare for your move, you may be tempted to hire the first moving company you contact. To find the best fit for your needs, Consumer Protection Ontario recommends that you get at least three written estimates
from different companies. Make sure they are prepared on company letterhead and that all the details are included in the quotes, including any extras and add-ons.
When comparing estimates, you’ll want to examine all these items:
- Total price—the lowest price is not always the best option.
- How will your furniture be protected from damage?
- How many movers/trucks will be needed?
- How long will it take?
- Will you be charged for overtime?
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Reputable companies will want to be competitive and work hard to earn your business.
4. Watch for scams
Here are some red flags to watch for:
- They demand an upfront deposit. This might indicate they’ve got other plans for your money than moving your belongings. Time to check with the next company on your list.
- They only accept cash. With no evidence of payment, you have no recourse if your items aren’t moved or you they never arrive at their final destination.
- Beware of movers that offer to do the work without charging the GST/HST. Sometimes these issues may indicate an unscrupulous or inexperienced mover that won’t pay claims or perform as contracted.
- Real companies have branded or plain full size trucks. Avoid handing over your prized possessions to criminals with rental or panel trucks.
5. Research the movers/Get references
It’s critical that you do your research before hiring a moving contractor. Just because you find a name and number online doesn’t mean that it’s a legitimate business. Start by asking friends and family for referrals.
Next, check with organizations that monitor legitimate movers and track complaints like the Canadian Better Business Bureau
, the Canadian Association of Movers
or the Office of Consumer Affairs, Industry Canada
. They can provide a list of reputable, ethical and professional movers or you can check out specific companies for certifications and association memberships.
Once you’ve selected movers, be sure to ask for three references that have used their services recently. Follow-up with phone calls to learn about their experiences. You should also check review sites like HomeStars
to learn about their reputation in the industry.
6. Ask about packing & storage services
Packing your own belongings will save money but recognize that your mover won’t be responsible for any damage that occurs during the transfer. If packing is included in your full-service contract, discuss the process they use for protecting and organizing as well as unpacking.
If you’re moving out of town or to another province, ask if your household goods will remain on the same truck or transferred to another one. Multi-truck moves run the risk that some items may be lost in transit. Also, make sure that any overnight transports are held in a secure storage facility.
Are storage facilities available if you’re not ready to move everything to your new home right away? Do they belong to the moving company or a third party? You should plan a visit to the company offices and storage facilities before you sign a contract.
7. Discuss moving insurance
By law, moving companies must be responsible for the value of the goods they transport. The levels of coverage vary:
Full Replacement Value
This comprehensive plan covers lost, damaged or destroyed items while in their possession. There is an extra charge for this, but the moving company is liable for either restoring the item to its original condition, pay for the cost of repairs, replace the article of similar value or pay for the cost of a replacement. Items of extraordinary value may be excluded from liability, so you will need to check on special insurance provisions.
Released Value Protection
This is the default insurance available for standard moves. It’s basic protection only covers 60 cents per pound no matter the value. This coverage is free but you really should consider additional coverage. Your homeowner’s policy may offer some personal property protection during a move. Check with your agent before purchasing additional coverage.
Ask for proof of insurance from your mover, obtain contact information and policy number prior to the move. You’ll have nine months to file a claim for any damages after the move, but you should note any problems on the mover’s paperwork the day of the move, if possible. Claims must be acknowledged within 30 days and settled within 120 days.
Make sure the mover has Workers’ Compensation coverage or you may be responsible for employee injuries if they occur during your move.
Moving to a new home can take a lot of time and hard work. Make sure things run smoothly by hiring a quality mover. Follow the guidelines—know what you need, get an in-home survey, get several written quotes, watch for scams, research movers, ask about packing and storage services, plus discuss moving insurance—then sit back and enjoy the process.