- What do Removal Companies do?
- What services do Removal Companies provide?
- How much do removal companies cost?
- Moves that need storage
- How to shortlist companies to invite to quote
- Home surveys
- Comparing quotes
- When and how to book
If you’ve never used a removal company to move house before, or if it’s been a while since you did, it can be a minefield trying to figure it all out. Deciding who to trust with the relocation of thousands of pounds worth of your prized possessions at a time when you’re going to be pretty stressed out is the last thing you want to be doing.
We’ve put together this guide to help you get started!
1) What do Removal Companies do?
Ultimately removals companies make moving house less stressful for you.
By the time you get to moving day it's quite likely you've had just about enough stress! With buyers or a landlord, solicitors, estate agents, utility companies, tradespeople ...the list goes on.
Removal Companies will take on most of the hard work that goes into making the physical move taking away that stress for you.
The difficulty here is finding a service that's reliable and trustworthy, basically, a professional removals company that belongs to the British Association of Removers (BAR) is often your best bet.
These removals firms often offer surety and security that others don't, and most sweeten the pot with additional services such as packing boxes, upfront removal quotes, low removal costs (regarding additional services) or various free of charge add-ons.
A removal company will typically help with the following:
Before the move
- Carry out a pre-move survey to understand what your move involves and make sure you have the right resources for it to run smoothly in the time you need it to happen. For example the right size truck, the number of people and packing materials.
- Help you plan everything for the move and coordinate your dates so everything runs smoothly.
- Provide packing materials (even if you are doing your own packing).
- Give you advice and assistance in preparing for move day from booking parking to telling you how to safely pack your favourite teapot!
On move day
- A trained and experienced team of professionals will arrive at your house, usually in uniform and in a liveried truck. They'll introduce themselves and walk around the property to make sure they understand everything that's important to you.
- Protect any part of your house that might be at risk of damage, for example putting down floor protection if it's needed.
- Some will provide optional packing services (For everything or just for your fragile or non-fragile items - you decide!).
- Load everything you need to move, transport it to your new home and unload it at the other end.
- Depending on the services you select they may even provide unpacking services and take away any un-wanted packing materials when they leave.
- Provide insurance in case of any accidental damage during the move.
2) What services do removals companies provide?
The services provided by different removal companies can vary, but may include:
- Packing (all items or just fragile/non-fragiles if you prefer)
- Loading and transport
- Packing materials
- Storage (short or long term)
- Moving vehicles
- Handyman services to dismantle or re-assemble complex items
- Washing machine disconnection/reconnection
- Booking parking (if you're in a permit area)
- Arranging cleaning, technology set up or other helpful third-party services
Some removal companies can even help you find a new home or help you with the inventory check when you move into/out of a rental home!
3) How much do removal companies cost?
How long's a piece of string? Removals costs are typically individual to you based on your personal requirements. They are usually worked out based on things like:
- Amount of furniture and personal effects you're moving (your 'volume')
- Access at both properties - internal and external
- Distance between properties
- Services you include like packing or dismantling furniture
- Special care items that might need extra packing or crating
- Special handling items that might need extra equipment or a different process to normal
The cost will also vary depending on the company you choose and the time of year! The only way to find out the sort of price you can expect to pay for your move is to get a quote.
4) Moves that need storage
Did you know many Moving Companies have their own storage facilities?
If your move requires storage for any reason then your removal company can normally help. Many have their own storage facilities which are a great way to reduce the overall handling of your items and coordinate your services in the most cost-effective way.
Companies who don't offer storage may be able to arrange for a move into another storage facility and then back to your home when you're ready.
5) How to shortlist companies to invite to quote
Before you can invite companies to quote for your move you'll need to know who is out there that COULD help and how to whittle them down into reputable companies you are interested in.
So where do you find potential moving companies?
Ask for recommendations
People you trust are a great source of reputable companies you should consider, with real experiences they can share with you. You can ask your nearest and dearest in person or you could post the question on your social networks like Facebook or Twitter for a wider audience.
Search a directory
Local directories are a great way to find companies that serve your area: Here are some of our favourites:
The BAR is the leading professional association of Removal Companies in the UK and sets minimum standards and a code of conduct to ensure you get a great service. This online directory combines a list of pre-vetted members with reviews from previous customers allowing you to get independent feedback on the company you’re considering.
The online version of an old household favourite the Yellow Pages. You can search by location for a local company and if the mover has completed their profile you can find out a bit more about them, see photos of their vehicles and crews and see a list of services they provide as well as a link to the removal company’s own website to find out more.
Most people know the Which? brand as a provider of independent expert reviews of products and services. The Which? Trusted Trader directory is an endorsement scheme which recognises reputable traders who successfully pass rigorous assessment processes including a credit check, customer references, a site visit and examination of procedures and all approved traders must agree to the Which? code of conduct.
Use a search engine
A quick search on Google, Bing or your favourite search engine will likely throw up lots of options for you to consider. If you're using a search engine there are two things to be aware of:
- Anyone can make a good looking website ~ so how can you tell a reputable mover from one that just has a great web designer? Check out the section on Removal Company accreditations to know what to look for.
- The results a search engine displays are down to complex algorithms and the top listings could miss some great providers that could cover your area, it's always worth scrolling through a few pages if there are lots of matches.
A note on comparison sites:
There are lots of ‘broker’ sites out there that take your details and sell them to multiple movers and you'll usually get calls from around 6 if not more to arrange quotes. This is fine and a way to save time but may not mean you’re getting access to the whole of the market (in a similar way that not all car insurance companies are on comparison websites).
You should also make sure to do your quality checks on the companies selected by the broker site before accepting any quote as their listing on a broker site does not guarantee their standing as a reputable mover and the broker will usually take no liability if things go wrong.
Shortlist who you'll invite to quote
Unless you've moved before or already know who you want to move with then 3 is the magic number.
Getting 3 quotes helps you to make good comparisons and ensure you're getting an accurate quote and the best value for your money.
When choosing who to put on your shortlist, consider the following:
- Do they provide ALL the services you need? Think about packing services, insurance, dismantling/re-assembly or storage if your new home isn't ready right away.
- Do they cover your area? There are lots of national companies who cover moves to/from anywhere in the UK regardless of where they are based, but some will only cover a certain area.
- Are they reputable? Make sure they have the appropriate qualifications and accreditations (ideally pre-vetted by a certified body like the BAR) and do they have good reviews?
Once you've got your shortlist, it's time to request quotes and arrange Home Surveys. You can either call the mover on the phone or request a quote via their website or email.
6) Removal company home surveys
Getting a Home Survey is a great way to get a fixed quote for your move, with no hidden surprises. These should be free and no obligation.
To give you a fixed price quote for your move most removal companies will want to survey your property and discuss your individual requirements with you. Typically this is done with a home visit but sometimes is done using a video survey or an electronic form. Always be sure to check if the quote is fixed price or an estimate if the survey isn't done in person.
A move consultant (also known as a Surveyor) will visit you at home to find out a bit more about your individual move situation, to:
- Understand what’s important to you and answer any questions you have.
- Explain how moving with their company works, the services they provide and how your possible move plan would look.
- Take an inventory of the items you want to move that allows them to calculate the volume of your furniture and personal effects so they know the vehicle size, labour and packing materials required for your move which all contribute to your price.
- Check access to make sure they account for any unique requirements or obstacles.
Top tips for getting the most out of your home survey:
- Tell the removals consultant everything - from move dates (if you know them) to access information, things you're concerned about and how you'd like it to work. The more the consultant knows the more accurate the quote will be and the smoother your move experience will be too!
- Show them everything that needs to be moved - open cupboards and show garages, lofts and outdoor spaces so they can make an accurate evaluation of what resource they need. Don't forget to tell them if you'll be buying anything new before move day.
- Tell them what you don't want to be moved - to make sure everything goes to the right place and that you don't end up paying for things you don't need to!
- Point out special care/valuable items - these may need a little extra protection or special handling.
- Tell them what help you need - do you want packing or are you happy doing your own? would a handyman save you time dismantling things in advance?
- Don't avoid tricky situations! - not all moves are straightforward and it's important the mover can plan for anything tricky. If you had to remove a window to get the sofa in, likely you'll need that going out too.... don't be tempted to hide things like poor access, restricted parking or tricky items to get a lower quote. Additional charges or stress on move day could cost you a lot more!
- Ask questions - make sure you're comfortable with what the process involves and how they will make it a great move for you.
Don’t be tempted to have one company do a home visit and then give the information to the others. We say this for many reasons, including:
- Estimating volume is a manual calculation and is based on the skills and experience of the surveyor, this means that there can be some fluctuation between companies but by having three surveys if one is significantly different to the others you can quickly spot if someone has made a mistake that might affect your costs or move day issues.
- Getting a chance to meet a move consultant is about more than checking the volume and getting a price. Not only can they be really useful in guiding you through the moving process but this person represents the company you will entrust to be in your home and handle your prized possessions. They are a good indication of the service, standards and professionalism you will receive once you’ve booked and so can really help in making your decision if prices are similar.
If you are doing a video or self-survey:
Be careful to show or tell your mover about everything as you'll be responsible for the information you've provided. Any inaccuracies could cause delays or additional costs on move day, for example, if you provide an inaccurate list of items to be moved and the vehicle is too small they may have to make an extra trip or return to the depot to collect additional materials for packing.
7) Comparing Removal Company quotes
Once you’ve received all your quotes it’s time to compare them and it’s about more than just looking at the price.
ALWAYS GET A FORMAL QUOTE AND CONTRACT.
We can’t stress this enough. When you’re handing all your worldly possessions over to a company you need the protection provided by a quotation in writing that comes with a contract and the relating terms and conditions. Read them, make sure you understand them and agree with them and that if you’re not happy with any of them that you get any agreed alterations in writing.
The British Association of Removers provide standard terms and conditions approved by the Trading Standards Institute to protect consumers so this is another great reason to look for the badge.
Compare based on your move criteria and what's important to you
What is most important to you? Are you deciding just on price or are there other factors to consider, for example, the move plan; handling of special items; how involved you’ll need to be; additional services; insurance and accreditations? We’ll come to these below in detail but having in mind a clear picture of what’s important will help to compare.
Check all the quotes are like for like
Two main things to check:
- Volume of items to be moved - Are they all the same? If one is quite far out it’s a good idea to ask why, one might have included an area others missed (i.e. lofts, garden or sheds).
- Services - Are all the removals companies basing their prices on the same level of service? What packing is included (if any) and is materials included? Is there a shuttle vehicle or outside elevator needed due to poor access? are they including any parking fees (if applicable) or other additional charges?
Call the removal company and let them know if you spot something they’ve done differently they’ll either be able to explain the difference or correct their quote if they misunderstood your requirement and you didn’t want something included.
This is where getting 3 quotes comes in handy because you can usually spot if someone is significantly out!
Compare the move schedules
Is the move planned over the same amount of days or are some all in one day while others taking two for example. Does one plan work better for you? If so let all the companies know that’s the way you’d prefer to work so they can adjust prices if it changes anything.
Compare the quality
We talked before about how easy it is to portray a professional image but that this isn’t always a guarantee of a reputable company. Like in your shortlisting process now is time to go back over Reviews, Accreditations and professional associations to get a feel for the quality of service.
Compare the price
However tempting it is no decision should be driven purely on price. Look for value for money based on what you can afford and what you’re prepared to pay to meet your moving goals - are there additional safeguards, services or credibility that one mover has over another that adds value to you in terms of peace of mind and lower risk?
Cutting corners to get a cheaper price could result in:
- Damage or Loss which means time-consuming claims process or worse, not getting your money back at all.
- Stress on move day if something goes wrong and your company don't have the resources or experience to respond quickly.
Don't forget to include insurance costs
Check what the cost of insuring your move will be, usually this is based on a % of the move cost or a % of the value of your belongings. Check whether you are being offered Liability Insurance (with a fixed per item limit IF you can prove negligence) or Indemnity insurance (based on actual value less depreciation for an item damaged whilst in the care of the removal company) or New for Old insurance (where items that cannot be repaired are replaced as new).
All things being equal....
If you’re happy that everyone is offering you the same level of service, the same level of quality and the same volume and rough price then I’m afraid there is no magic formula for making your decision and it will be down to your personal preference.
Who made you feel most comfortable dealing with the process so far? Who has given you the most confidence, who do you trust? The culture of a company will determine their processes and customer experience and your experience so far is a good indicator of what your experience will be like once you’ve booked, so, who do you want to work with?
A note on negotiating with removal companies: Don't be afraid to negotiate, if you've compared all of the above but your preferred mover is too expensive based on a like-for-like service from another mover.
8) Removal Company Accreditations
Finding a reputable removal company can be a challenge; with hundreds of companies listing themselves on the internet and many appearing to be professionals, it becomes impossible to vet every single one.
The British Association of Removers (BAR) is dedicated to promoting professional excellence, so if the removal company you’ve chosen is listed on their website then you know they have been pre-vetted to ensure the standards of service they offer will be of the very highest quality.
All BAR member companies must:
- Meet minimum quality standards
- Adhere to a strict code of practice
- Provide an Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) as a safety net so that in the unlikely event that we suffer financial failure before your move is completed that you have not lost any payment already made. You can view Bournes APG certificate and details or visit the BAR advance payment guarantee page to find out more, including the full terms and conditions of the scheme.
- Provide independent dispute resolution.
Look for the BAR badge when choosing your mover!
9) Removal company reviews
Reviews and testimonials are a great way to find out what the experience of moving with a particular company might be like. Here are some great places to find reviews:
- On your removal company's website
- ReferenceLine- The reviews website of the British Association of Removers
- Which? Trusted Traders
- Google - just type in the company name and look for the 'google reviews' on the right-hand side
- Facebook - check out the 'reviews' tab on your movers Facebook page
10) When and how to book your mover
When should you book a removal company?
Most people start to arrange quotes for removals around 4-6 weeks before moving day. In peak periods like summer or school holidays, it's advisable to start the process ASAP to get the best rates and avoid your preferred mover being booked up.
How to book once you've selected your quote:
Once you've chosen your mover, telephone them to book your moving dates. They'll usually ask you to return your signed contract (acceptance form) to secure your booking.
Booking if you don't have a move date:
If you don’t know your move dates yet don’t worry, let the removal company know your provisional or target dates and then finalise these once you know more.
Paying in advance for your move:
Most companies will ask you to pay in advance for your move, usually at least 7 days before your move is due to take place. This is a typical practice. If you are worried, make sure your mover is a member of the British Association of Removers who offer an advance payment guarantee to protect your money once you've paid. PLEASE NOTE: Due to the Coronavirus pandemic the BAR Advance Payment Guarantee is suspended for new claims. This will be reviewed and reinstated as soon as possible. Find out more.
Cancellation / Postponement Waivers:
Many companies offer a Cancellation or Postponement protection waiver which is a small fee that allows you to reserve the resources without losing your money if you have to change the dates later on, this is a great peace of mind if you’re worried about your completion date slipping but want to be sure the moving company will have availability for you.
Bournes offers a full range of removals and storage services throughout Sussex, Kent and London.
Find out more about our UK Removals Services.