Working with professional movers is a great option for people making big moves, moving with kids, or moving large or fragile items that would be otherwise impossible to transport. But while many moving companies do a great job of providing end-to-end service, there are some things that only you can do to make the whole process run smoothly. Here’s our list of six surprising things you’ll need to do before the movers arrive in order to avoid disaster.
Whether you live in an urban apartment or a two-story house in the country, there are bound to be obstacles for your movers. By anticipating these issues before they happen, you can make everyone’s job easier, and possibly even save some money by taking up less of the movers’ time.
First, you should consider the parking situation outside your home. Where will the movers be able to leave their truck when packing up your stuff? If you do have that house in the country, this might not be an issue. But if you’re living in an apartment or urban area, chances are good that a huge double-parked truck won’t be taken very kindly by the neighbors.
“If you live in an apartment building or if there is limited parking in your area, ask the movers if they will handle the logistics or if you need to do so,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”
Some moving companies might be familiar with your neighborhood and know how to park in a way that doesn’t raise any red flags with the neighbors. But if they tell you they’d like your help with the logistics, then this will be on you to handle before they arrive.
“You may need to contact your building manager,” Wenzke says, “or the local city government to get the appropriate signage and allowances.”
There are other things to consider, too—like the state of your driveway.
Pat Byrne, operations manager of Long Island–based moving company Moving Ahead Moving & Storage, always asks clients to remove ice and snow to avoid any accidents during the move. You should also make sure the driveway and front access points are clear of debris—like kids’ or pet toys that might pose a slip hazard.
Some apartment buildings might have service elevators available for use. This would be another time-saving question to ask your building manager in advance.
“See if service elevators can be reserved and whether the building needs any paperwork from movers—like a certificate of insurance,” says Byrne.
To prevent damage to your house during the move, you should be aware of what furniture is going out the door, and anything fragile in its path that might be at risk of breaking.
“Lightbulbs, fixtures, pictures, mirrors, wall hangings should be removed from the main areas where furniture will be moved,” Byrne says.
And don’t forget about the hardwood floors. Nothing will put off a buyer more than seeing skid marks illustrating the path your sofa took out of the place.
“If you have hardwood floors or tile in any rooms, let your movers know ahead of time so they can prepare the right materials—and make sure your contract includes hardwood floor protection,” advises Miranda Benson, marketing coordinator at San Francisco–based moving company Dolly.
On a related note, you’ll want to measure your furniture and make sure any large items will fit through the front door in the first place.
“Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding out the gorgeous sectional you spent hours assembling is not going to make it through your front door unless you spend more hours disassembling it,” Benson says.
Not literally, of course. But you should take the time to consider where your family will be when the movers are at work. If paying for a space in the nearby pet hotel isn’t an option, at least consider keeping your pets in a safe space within your home.
“Pets should be kept in a room with everything they need that movers won’t need to access,” Byrne advises. “You’d want to do this even if your pet is friendly, to avoid [their] accidentally getting out of the house or injured.”
Similarly, young kids should also be kept out of the way on moving day. This is important for their safety as well as the safety of your moving team.
“The last thing you or your movers want to worry about is whether your 2-year-old’s scream is going to shock them at the wrong time,” Benson says.
Once the family is out of the house, it’s time (drumroll, please) to sit down and relax—sort of. Find a central point in your home (that’s out of the movers’ way) and simply plan on making yourself available to them as they move your stuff.
Do we mean supervising their every move and reminding them the box is marked “fragile”? Probably not. But you should be around to help answer any questions, or alert movers to anything special they should know about your place.
“There are little things about your house that you only learn from living there: The hallway closet door never stays closed, the third step down has a slight bend, a pack of hornets tends to congregate around the back door, so use the front—these are all valuable things that make your movers’ lives easier,” Benson explains.
“On top of that, being available to answer questions, whether that’s in person or via phone, can make your move much smoother,” she adds.
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