Spring has sprung
Spring, a time of new beginnings, is certainly well under way and some people’s thoughts are turning towards looking for a new home.
Even disregarding the existing ‘credit crunch’ and a slowing property market, moving home is widely recognised as one of the most stressful things people will ever undertake in life and everyone knows someone with a particular horror story to tell. From long delays, to damage to furniture, to property being lost during transit, there is the potential for so many things to go wrong during a move.
As one of the only firms in the UK which specialises only in overseas moves, Atlantic International Movers (AIM) has compiled some of guidance and tips for people to consider when thinking about the physical move, in the hope that they may save some of the heartache:
1. Before selecting the removals firms you want to quote, decide exactly the level of service you would like to receive. Do you want to pack all of your belongings? Do you want to leave the fragile items to the professionals?
2. When choosing your removals firms to quote, remember, you always get what you pay for. A local firm around the corner is not going to provide the same level of service as an industry accredited, quality assured removals firm. The prices quoted will be incomparable, and the local firm will probably not be equipped to handle overseas moves.
3. Another concern is the financial stability of the removals firms you are selecting. Industry analysts, Plimsoll, published a report earlier this year highlighting that 30 per cent of UK removers were in danger of financial collapse, and predicts that a number of firms will fail during 2008. Choose the more established firms as they are better equipped to ride out a downfall in the market.
4. Take care when comparing quotations that you are comparing like-for-like, and avoid simply looking at the bottom line price. Check the volumes, time, size of vehicle to be used, numbers of staff, whether packing materials are included, whether insurance is included, and so on. Clearly define the areas of responsibility between the moving company and yourself and confirm starting and finishing times before the day of the move.
5. Ask your removals company about its insurance record. A careful mover will have only a handful of insurance claims to its name in the past few years, which they will be happy to tell you about, and something that their insurers will be able to validate.
6. Insurance can only be provided by companies who are regulated and authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Many movers have decided they cannot meet the strict criteria for compliance with the regulations so have withdrawn this service. Their alternative is to put the onus back on clients, or offer some form of legal liability which is inferior to an ‘all risks’ insurance policy. Take great care when no insurance is offered or the FSA required KeyFacts are not provided from the outset.
7. The other factor to consider is the level of insurance cover offered. Most movers offer insurance at around £25,000 to £50,000 per vehicle, which will hardly provide enough cover for people’s belongings and furniture.
8. Before you begin packing, ensure you have all the packing materials you require and that they’re strong enough for all your needs. Start early and pack systematically, devising a label system for boxes is often helpful. Try and think like a professional. For example, don’t overlook the opportunity to pack items within items in order to maximise your space. If you’re concerned about the safety of your possessions it might well be worth your while to pay for professional packing. Note also that self packed belongings are often excluded from the remover’s insurance.
9. If your furniture and belongings are going into storage, ask for the details and location of the facility. Don’t believe adverts and photos. If you have time, look around the premises yourself to check they are secure, well-ordered and maintained and not someone’s barn or dilapidated warehouse. Reputable companies will provide features to protect various special items from the effects of storage, such as purpose-built racks or storage containers for soft furnishings, upholstered furniture and other delicate objects.
10. It is essential to know what time the keys to the new home are legally available or who pays for any resulting waiting time. Delays can be caused when the outgoing owner is a DIY amateur, or his van is too small needing many trips, or his removal contractor arrived late or underestimated the work involved.
11. Access issues or limited parking may be a particular problem at the new address. You should ask the seller if any access issues might arise for any size of vehicle. Watch out for overhead cables, branches or archways leading to the home. Arrange for parking and flag up any issues as soon as possible to the moving company to avoid concerns on delivery. Some local authorities often need two weeks notice to book parking or you face a fine.
12. Avoid moving on a Friday, on the last week of the month and during school holidays (particularly the summer). Removal company resources are at their most stretched during these periods and therefore moves are likely to cost more and the levels of client service could also suffer.
British Association of Removers: www.bar.co.uk or tel: 01923 699 480
National Guild of Removers and Storers: www.ngrs.org.uk or tel: 01494 792279