Recent statistics have found that people move home roughly twice in their lifetime after their first purchase. A busy removals team can carry out as many as a dozen moves a week, so it’s fair to say that they know a thing or two about what makes a good removal event. Sometimes move day can be harder and more time-consuming than necessary because of nothing more than an understandable lack of experience from the customer. By knowing a few of those pitfalls, you can help smooth the path to your new front door, which means you’ll get better value for money from your move, less stress, and be parked in front of Netflix in your new home with a glass of what you fancy and a takeaway before the sun is over the yard arm.
1. Don’t ‘park’ sorting the parking
Being unable to park a removals vehicle outside a property can add hundreds of metres and at least an hour to a home removal. If either location has controlled parking, it’s easy enough to get a couple of parking bays suspended, but leave plenty of time for local council admin to do its thing. If a street has no controlled parking (e.g. no yellow lines, resident permit zones etc), then you have nothing more than the good nature of others, often your new neighbours, to ensure you get a space.
Speak to your neighbours, old and new. At your current home, this should be pretty straightforward if you’re all on good terms. Check in with them, let them know what’s happening and when, and you’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help keep spaces clear for you. Most of the time, people have been in the same situation when they’ve moved and will be happy to oblige. At your destination, it’s an ideal opportunity to say hello to your new neighbours. Speak to your sellers too. Oftentimes, they already know the neighbours and can be your local liaison prior to the move. You can even arrange your timings so that as their removal vehicle leaves, yours pulls up to your new home, making constant use of the space for the benefit of both parties.
2. What do you mean it won’t fit?
Grand pianos look amazing in a house, less so in the front garden with a tarpaulin over them. Make sure that your large items will fit in your new home. If not, see if they can be taken apart safely, and do so if you can before your removal team arrives. Your removal company may offer a dismantling and rebuilding service. If necessary, ask to go and measure at the new place to check an item will fit – and not just through the front door, but to its final destination (a dog-leg turn in a staircase can be an insurmountable barrier to a chest of drawers). On the bright side, a window frame is actually much easier and less scary to remove than it sounds and happens fairly frequently in removals as an alternative entryway for certain items. Some removal companies offer light building services, such as carpenters, to support the move. We provide a free no-obligation survey of your move, including assessing the removal logistics of your new place (in cooperation with your sellers) and we have access to trusted plumbers, carpenters and other trades should you need them.
3. Don’t overpack
Overpacked boxes (books are often the main culprit) can be excessively heavy to carry and manoeuvre and, once in, if you decide to move them to another room a few days later, you may not be able to do so safely, or without unpacking them first. Overpacked boxes can split, they’re harder to negotiate through tight spaces and past other items, and they’re unnecessary given that the cost of a few extra boxes is minimal relative to the cost of the move (often free if you pick them up through sites like Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace). Any single heavy items, where possible, are best packed with lighter things. For books, use smaller boxes. A4 sized boxes, such as those designed to hold reams of printer paper, are ideal for packing lots of books into a manageable collection for moving. See our article on ‘How to pack like a pro’ for more information.
4. The joy of labelling
Your removal event will be quicker and more efficient when you know what’s in every box and where it’s going. It’s important to choose a method that feels right and that you’ll stick to. As one of the busiest removals companies based in Brighton, here are some of the proven methods we see all the time:
- Box inventories. You can use labels to list the contents of each box, or simply write direct on the box. Label (or write on) two sides of the box and again on the top so that the boxes are quick and easy to identify and move. Be as specific as possible as to what’s in each box. You don’t need to list every item; group items like ‘mantelpiece photographs’ and ‘large kitchen utensils’, and identify any specific large items that are in the box. Use decent thick-tipped waterproof markers to write with (don’t mark them up until they’re filled and ready to seal). Labels are usually available from your removals company. You can also design and print your own if you’re able to use design software, or you can use a print-on-demand service such as this one from label company Avery.
- Colour coding. Colour coding is an easy way of seeing at a glance which box is going where, and is best used alongside the box inventories discussed above. You can use coloured labels or tape to identify the destination room or area for each box. Choose your colour scheme and stick to it throughout the move, and make sure that your removals team is familiar with your system. Again, apply any coloured labels or tape to two sides and the top of each box.
- The full inventory. Not for the administratively unenthusiastic, one solution our removals teams sometimes see is the use of a computer spreadsheet to compile a full database of what is in each box, and then simply apply a label, or write on the box, the inventory reference from the database. You might want to take a look at the growing list of home inventory apps to help you catalogue and keep track of your contents.
5. Kids, kittens and keys
There are three things that can literally get under our feet or stop us in our tracks. First, if you have small children, make sure that they’re either occupied in a safe space or are able to spend the day with someone else. A house move is a busy environment with a lot of foot traffic, and it can be disruptive and dangerous if kids are running about during the move. Second, pets can get nervous and confused at move time, so it’s best to keep them calm in a separate room away from the activity if possible, or better still send them to a friend or pet sitter for the day (see our article on ‘how to give your pets a positive house move’).
Lastly, keys. They normally change hands around lunchtime, but if you’re in a long chain this can be even later. Even something as simple as the fact that your solicitor or estate agent taking a lunch break can delay the move into your new home by an hour that you may not have allowed for. A recent survey revealed that some 115,000 UK moves are delayed every year from delays in completion, and more than 20,000 are not able to relocate on the appointed day because of the late transfer of funds (and therefore keys). You could get a key waiver, which provides up to three hours waiting time for the removals team at no extra charge, but it’s better if you can stay in regular contact with your solicitors and estate agent so that you have the most up to date picture and can check frequently that legal matters are proceeding as expected. If there are issues, at least you’ll be aware asap and able to discuss the situation and an alternative plan with your removals provider.