How to get an accurate moving cost estimate

Bill Adams
How to get an accurate move cost estimate
By Bill Adams - Having done an average of 400-900 estimates per year over the past 21 years, I would like to share a few tips for the homeowners in their quest to get accurate in-home estimates from their movers of choice.  Once you've narrowed your selection of movers to consider, call and schedule the appointments.

1. Try to do all of them on the same day, spaced 2 hours apart.
An estimate normally takes about an hour. Moving is a big event, and taking this time out of your normal schedule to interview movers is time well spent. Getting them done on the same day keeps all discussions fresh in your mind. Use the time between appointments to make notes.

2. If possible, have your spouse take part in the process.
If not possible, have the same spouse interview all the movers. Too often, each has different opinions on what is to be moved. I've actually gone back for a second walk through with the spouse now present and the inventory looks nothing like the first. Actually, I have a rule when doing a walk through with couples - if one of them wants it, it's already on the list.

3. Be clear and consistent during the walk through.
Include attics, garages, and basements... and include any unseen items that will there on load day. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that nothing is being moved from the basement, and when I insist on seeing it, there are items that would have been overlooked. "Oh yeah, that freezer's coming, and so is the workbench."
It is also many movers' policy to require the estimator to make a list of items not being moved, on a room by room basis. Please avoid the word "going" when showing us the items to be moved. This term can mean going away (not being moved), or going to the new house (to be moved). It's actually pretty common for a client to use this word through the survey and mean both! Consider "taking" and "leaving".

4. Be sure to ask any and all questions that you may have.
Remember that this is not just price harvesting, but an interview with a company that you may be trusting to move all of your life's possessions. While most reputable movers have similar pricing, it's the little things that might help you to decide which one is right one for you.

5. Discuss your anticipated dates for loading and unloading.
Often, price and dates go together. If you're looking for the best price, be prepared to be flexible with dates. If you're looking for guaranteed dates on a small load, be prepared to pay a little more for that quick turnaround.

6. Ask for a packing and unpacking estimate.
Even if you are planning to do your own packing, you'll get a list of the number and size of the cartons you'll need from each estimator. You might think that the cost is a great value, and ask the movers to do it. Or, you might think that it is very expensive, and you'll be able to see how much you'll save by packing yourself. Tip: If you decide to let the movers pack, use your free time to purge the things you don't want at your new home. Movers won't decide for you, they'll just pack everything.
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Reprinted by permission of and Copyright © Bill Adams, All rights reserved
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