Friday, September 6, 2013

Pros or DIY for a BIG Move? - Part 3 of 3

Professional moving companies offer a wide variety of services that can be beneficial when you have a large house full of furniture, or even if you just need help with a few boxes.

Our Weirdest Move

In 2003, we were being re-assigned to Germany, and we sold our home in New Mexico. The new owners needed to take possession in 30 days, but the Air Force could not schedule a moving company to pack us during that time-frame. SO, along with the help of many of our friends from church, we packed up all of the household goods ourselves, and moved it all into 3 rented storage units.  Then, a few weeks later, the moving company met us out at the units...However, they had to re-pack all our boxes to ensure that their company's insurance would cover any breakage that might occur. It was a HOT July day, and we provided 2 cases of water and plenty of ice to the guys. Thankfully, it all worked out well. About two-thirds of our belongings went to Germany by ship, and the rest remained in New Mexico in storage. Then, 2 years later, it was all delivered to our final Air Force assignment in Texas.

This time around, we didn't have the Air Force to rely on for the move to Oahu. We decided to try living a more simple and minimalistic life while we are in Hawaii. So, although we are packing most ALL of our items ourselves for storage, we  considered hiring professional movers to ship some things to our new "hale" (house).

Part Two: Hiring Professional Movers

One of the next things on my "to do" list is to call one or more moving companies to get estimates on packing and shipping the furniture and other items we want to take to Hawaii.  Most companies will give you an estimate over the phone, but knowing the approximate weight of your goods will be helpful.  They will usually ask how large the house is, ie: 3 bedrooms with 2 living areas, 1800 square foot house, etc.  In our case, we will get an estimate for just a few items of furniture, and boxes.

Packing Up

- Once you've hired a moving company, they will set a date for a team of people to come out and wrap and pack your belongings. You will probably need to have a hotel reservation! We have slept on inflatable mattresses to save money, but I wouldn't recommended it, especially if you have kids. Plus, even though the packers are doing all the work, you will still be exhausted!
- Watch your packers! If you can, have one adult with each person that they send to pack. Yes, we've had items stolen. It broke our hearts that people would treat us that way.
- Provide water and clean bathrooms for your packers, and maybe cookies or something, but DON'T give them beer and try to make friends with them. It doesn't work in your favor. We had friends that did that, and their boxes were not packed properly, and they incurred a LOT of breakage (possibly because the packers were "tipsy"?).
- If you need to separate your luggage or other hand-carry items, it's best to put them in an empty room or closet and put a sign on the door that says, "DO NOT PACK"  or a large sign like this:

** If you have anything that is rare or irreplaceable, try to hand carry it with you. If this is not feasible, then see if a family member or trusted friend can mail it to you (insured, of course) when you reach your new home.  Yes, I'm speaking from personal experience here. Our daughter's Princess Diana collectable doll was stolen by one of our movers; it had been a gift from her grandmother. We were able to replace the doll because we had all the paperwork and I did a ton of research online to make the claim. After that move, we always had it securely stored or mailed to us.
- Make sure that the packers use plenty of paper to wrap breakable items, and for padding inside the boxes.
Bubble wrap and plastic wrap should be used on your furniture items, even sofas and padded chairs. This will protect them from getting wet or being torn during shipping.  If you see them skimping on packaging materials, bring your concerns to the attention of the lead person; if you don't get a satisfactory answer, call the company right away.
- Take the trash out! Yes, they will pack your garbage can, and they won't empty it.
Color code your rooms. You can make simple signs on the doors, but you will probably have to mark the boxes yourselves.  When you are unloading boxes at your new home, the big red K will tell you at a glance that it goes into the kitchen, blue BA will indicate Bathroom, etc. Give each kid their own color, too, because little Johnny will love seeing his green J coming out of the truck!
- When your goods are being shipped by boat, your company will probably pack them into large wooden crates, and then seal the crates with a tamper-evident seal of some kind. You will also be provided with a copy  of inventory lists of the furniture, boxes, etc. that they have put into the crates. Not every individual item will be listed, but a general idea of what is in "box #306" will be listed, ie: "plates and flatware".  Be sure to carry this inventory list with you, and keep it safe. When your goods arrive at their destination, you need to check off the inventory list as everything is unloaded.
- Another Note about Unpacking: make sure you unfold EVERY single piece of wrapping paper! Small items have been known to be left in boxes or put into the recycling bin by accident.

Breakage, Damage and Missing Items

When your moving truck arrives at your new home, it's a joyous occasion to see your belongings again!
However, if "box #215" says it contains a collectable doll, and the box doesn't arrive, or the item is broken, you can claim the value of the item that is missing.  Check with your moving company for their policy, and CAREFULLY READ and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, otherwise they don't have to pay.  Don't sign anything just because the truck driver is in a hurry!

Now, I don't want you to come away with negative thoughts or worry about using professional movers. Our positive experiences FAR outnumber the bad ones! We've been thankful for having movers for six of our moves, which cut down on a lot of stress and back pain.
Today, I'm thankful that our home is not the little travel trailer that my parents lived in when I was born.  True, you didn't have to hire movers, you just hitched it up your house to a station wagon, and relocated!

"Oh, our trailer rolls along behind! We go wherever we've a mind...We travel far and wide, we're stickin' side by side, and we're leavin' all our troubles far behind!" - a little song written by my mom, back in the late 1950's.

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