Moving house is rarely an easy process. It may be tempting to save money and move all your belongings yourself. However, there are advantages to hiring a removals company instead. Provided you choose the right one, professional movers could take much of the stress out of moving house.
Although packing up your own things might sound like the easy option, unless you own few belongings or live in a small flat or house, moving home without a house removal service can be surprisingly challenging.
Fragile items, bulky furniture, and preventing injury to yourself are all vital concerns to take into account, not to mention the time you can save by utilising the packing service many friendly, local removal firms offer.
But how do you choose the best removals company? The one that is right for your move? Not all firms are equal – all will vary in price, services and quality. Ultimately, choosing the cheapest option simply to save money may end up costing you more in the long-run if things get lost or broken. Most house movers offer removals insurance but different companies will offer different levels of cover.
When hiring any kind of service, research is key. To help you get started with yours, we have put together this guide on deciding whether hiring a removals company is right for you and how to choose the right one.
At Bird & Co, we provide specialist residential property and conveyancing services to clients across the UK. We are members of the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme for our high quality of advice, practical experience and excellent customer experience.
Moving home – your options
You have three main options for physically moving house:
- Pack, transport and unload your belongings yourself without the help of professionals
- Pack your belongings yourself and hire professional movers to transport and unload
- Hire a removal company to pack your belongings as well as transport and unload them
Not all house removal companies offer packing services so it is important to double check if this is something you definitely want.
What are the benefits of hiring a removals company over moving yourself?
- A reputable company will have the experience and capability to provide a stress-free move
- Many removal companies offer a packing service with specific expertise packing up fragile items to prevent them breaking during transit
- Professional removal people are able to pack, load and unload items quickly, saving you time on moving day
- Removal people are usually physically fit and work in pairs or groups so are able to move bulky items such as washing machines and pianos swiftly and safely
- There is no risk of you injuring yourself while trying to shift heavy or cumbersome items
- Removal companies are often able to provide strong, reliable packing materials
- Hiring movers saves you the stress of having to move bulky furniture through narrow spaces or up and down stairs
- Most removal companies have insurance which can cover lost or damaged items
- You will not be held responsible for any loss if the removal van is involved in an accident while transporting your belongings
- You won’t have the stress of trying to drive or park a large van
Is hiring movers right for you?
The only disadvantage of hiring movers is the cost. However, only if your move is completely incident-free will this truly be the case. If you move yourself and items are lost or damaged, you have no way to recover this money. Unless you own few possessions, it is usually not worth the risk.
How far in advance should you hire movers?
The best removal companies tend to book up fast, so make sure you book early. To be completely safe, you should aim to book as soon as you have exchanged contracts and set a completion date for your house purchase. Do not confirm the booking until contracts have exchanged as it is only at this stage that your completion date will become set.
The date the purchase completes is often the day people move in to their new homes, so hiring your movers as soon as you know that date (and you have exchanged contracts, meaning the purchase is legally binding and certain to happen) is a sensible option.
Choosing the best house movers
When searching for local removal firms, look for a number of key things:
- Endorsements and professional memberships
- Client reviews
- Extra services
Endorsements and professional memberships
A reputable removals firm will often be a member of professional organisations or schemes such as:
- The Which? Trusted Traders scheme – this scheme recognises traders who provide high quality services and products to consumers in the UK
- The British Association of Removers (BAR) – BAR’s purpose is to promote excellence within the house removals industry. Members of BAR are required to maintain high service standards. The Association also provides a payment guarantee (in case your movers go out of business or cannot fulfil your booking) and a dispute resolution service if issues do arise
You can usually find reviews for your local removals firms by simply entering “[firm name] reviews” into an online search engine. If the firm has a website they will probably post their best testimonials on there. However, there are also many independent removals advice websites and general review websites such as Trustpilot which allow people to post removal firm reviews.
Most removal firms offer insurance, but the level of cover will generally vary depending on who you hire. The following are some steps you can take to ensure you will be protected when hiring a company:
- Ask directly about the company’s insurance cover, what it includes, what it excludes, and the time limits on claiming under the insurance
- Check what the insurer will need to pay out if you make a claim. Some insurers require you to prove the mover was negligent when items were lost or damaged to pay out, while some will pay out regardless of the circumstances
- If you have any high value belongings, check whether your mover’s insurance requires special packing and that the full value of the items is covered
- Get the movers to pack your fragile items. If you pack them yourself and they are broken in transit, the insurer may not pay out
As well as simple loading and unloading services, many removal firms offer other services such as:
Packing and materials
Many people choose to pack themselves but getting your movers to pack for you can save considerable time and ensure your belongings are safe and protected. Double check whether your mover’s insurance is affected if you choose to pack yourself – some insurers will not cover damaged items if not packed professionally.
If for some reason you cannot move into your new home straightaway (for example, because the completion date is delayed), some firms will store your belongings until you need them.
Be aware that storage service sometimes have hefty extra charges for this so ensure you check this cost with your chosen firm before hiring them, even if you do not expect to need the service.
If you are moving abroad, some removal companies will ensure your belongings are packed up and transported safely to your new country as well as checking the items to comply with customs regulations. Some will also provide storage services if you need to leave anything in the UK until a later date.
How much does it cost to hire a removals company?
Removal costs vary from company to company, from move to move. There are a number of factors which will affect the cost of your move, including:
- How many belongings you own – typically, moving the contents of a three bed house will be considerably more time-consuming and burdensome than moving the contents of a studio flat
- The distance between your old and new home – transporting items a few streets will cost less than relocating hundreds of miles away to a new town or city
- The extra services you require – things like packing and materials will add extra costs to your move. Services like storage can be particularly expensive and you should always check your mover’s storage policy even if you do not intend to use it. Sometimes circumstances can delay a move, requiring storage services at short notice
- The size of the removal crew – the more people required to shift your stuff, the more your move is likely to cost
- How long the move takes – many movers charge a fixed fee for a set number of hours and an hourly rate for any additional hours spent helping you move. Try to get as many hours at a fixed fee as possible to prevent costs rising rapidly during the move
Make sure you get quotes from at least three removal companies before choosing which one to hire. However, remember that cheapest is not necessary best. Check other factors such as insurance, professional endorsements and client reviews before making a final decision.
Prepping your removals company
Once you have hired your chosen removals company, consider sending them a short “brief” to prep them before the move. This will help them get underway much faster on the day of the move. Your brief should include things like:
- Parking details at your old home and your new home – you may have already had to provide these to the firm but there is no harm in ensuring the moving crew have the information to hand
- An inventory of items which are fragile and need special packing, such as antiques and paintings
- Any items which need dismantling, such as beds and wardrobes
- A list of curtains and rugs or carpets which need taking
- A list of items you plan on transporting yourself
- A floor plan for your new property so the moving crew know where to put the boxes when unloading
Preparing to move house
Sorting your removals company is just the first step towards finally getting settled in your new home. Packing to move can be stressful, especially when you cannot decide where to start. For advice on organising your move, have a read of our Guide to Moving House.
Do you need advice about moving house?
At Bird & Co, we are specialist conveyancing solicitors serving clients across the UK. We are members of the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) Accreditation for our high standards of advice and client care in residential property matters. You can trust us to handle your case swiftly, accurately and cost effectively.