Making the big move

Moving house is a time of great upheaval. Some people move home very rarely, others are ‘serial’ flitters, hunting the next dream property or project.

Even the most straight-forward move seldom comes without stress. Part of this lies in what makes us who we are. Human beings are programmed to derive comfort from the familiar. The lay-out of a favourite room, a view, the friendliness of our neighbours; all these things can prop us up as we go about our lives.

As a result, it is hard to leave these things behind, whether it is moving a hundred yards up the road, crossing continents or shifting into rented accommodation while you get a new extension done. Throw in kids with an attachment to school, and a pet, and the experience can be emotionally challenging.

Careful forward planning and delegation, however, can help ease the process and pre-empt potential frustrations. With the right advice and professional help, you can be resting your tired feet in your new property with a glass of champagne, looking forward to a fresh chapter in your life with very little stress. Your experience can be positive and affirming, just by following some of our moving tips.

So, when the paperwork is being concluded on the purchase of your new home and the date of your move is circled on the calendar, what are the things you should be starting to think about?

One of the first, and most important questions to ask yourself is, how are my possessions going to be moved to my new property? Do you have just a few items that can be easily transported by hiring a van and getting some friends to help with the packing and lifting? Or are you moving in volume and require extra assistance? If you do need assistance, how do you find a removal company you can trust with your effects but move you cost-effectively? And what sort of guarantees should be in place?

Flemings of Rosyth Ltd have been moving people into new homes for over 40 years. Established in 1970, this family-run business has transported peoples’ possessions from Wick to Plymouth. They have moved everything from household goods to musical instruments and theatre sets. Recently, they transported two Boa Constrictor snakes, carefully, and successfully, to London.

In their opinion, people should start doing their research on which removal firm they wish to contract around two months before their big move. Shopping around is essential for competitive prices but also for the range of services on offer. In addition, there are  also certain things to be aware of when assessing whether a company is right for you.

“Some people will choose a removal company solely because they offer the cheapest quote. Others will base their decision on quality of service,” says Alison Grey of Flemings. “Something that is a very good indicator of quality is whether a firm is a member of an industry body. Because we are members of the British Association of Removers (BAR), for example, we have reference lines through BAR, where potential customers can look at what others have said about us. This can give people additional peace of mind. At the moment, our reference line satisfaction rate is 96%.”

As well as shopping around for competitive quotes, it is also wise to arrange for your preferred companies to visit your existing property. This allows you to meet the removal team and establish a rapport. From their point of view, it is an opportunity to gauge the size of van needed and how many trained staff will be required.

This initial meeting can also be useful in assessing whether there are any special access issues to consider; something which may have to be arranged with your local authority in advance of moving day. By knowing exactly what the move will involve, you will receive a quote that accurately reflects the job, and the company can mobilise the right equipment and manpower, relieving any possible delays or additional charges.

“We can supply a quote by email or telephone,” says Alison. “However, we always try to visit a property, if possible. As well as it being good for the householder to meet us, and vice versa, it also enables us to get the information we need. For example, in some cases it may be necessary to remove windows to get furniture out, so this has to be organised. Access is also important. We recently completed a removal in England and arrived at the site only to find that the access road was being tarred and we could only gain access after 3pm!”

Deciding on which services you need for your move is important. It can also help you to make the decision on which firm to opt for. You may have two reputable firms offering similar prices. However, if one can offer a complete packing service and provide low-cost insurance for all your breakables while in transit, this may swing things.

If you decide to pack all your goods yourself, Flemings will supply boxes to get you started. Other services that may tempt you are their ability to transport animals and plants (not all firms do) and they are also qualified piano movers.

Flemings offer a semi and full packing service and will even provide a female packer for those who require this. If you are exporting goods, Flemings can pack to the relevant customs standard of your chosen country. Trained staff can dismantle furniture and re-assemble it at the other end and provide storage facilities to help you de-clutter while you redecorate your new home.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to costs is that many removal firms will offer discounted rates if you move before a Friday. Due to work, Friday is the day of choice for most as they can spend the weekend unpacking. However, if you can influence your moving day, it may be worth your time - and money - to move earlier in the week.

Once you have enlisted your chosen removal firm, check out our moving guide for what you should do next.