- Hiring tradespeople
Most removal companies have a range of vehicles to suit moves of all sizes – everything from shifting furniture upstairs, to moving six-bedroom houses. A representative from the company should visit your home to assess your requirements before giving you a quote. There is no charge for this – make sure you get at least three quotes and compare like with like.
Look for personal recommendations or online reviews – you can see reviews for the removal companies endorsed by Which? Trusted Traders on their profile pages. Membership of an industry body, such as the British Association of Removals (BAR) or the National Guild of Removers and Storers, can be a good sign too.
Businesses will vary in terms of whether they require a deposit, the insurance they offer and the costs for particular services. Obviously the size of the move and the distance travelled will affect the cost. Remember the cheapest isn’t necessarily going to be the best.
Check which tools and services are included in the price, such as furniture or mattress protectors, or the supply and removal of packing materials.
Obviously budget comes into play, but you need to decide whether you want to do all the packing yourself, or hand over some or all of it to the company. If you don’t want to pay for a full pack, a partial packing service might work for you.
Syed Ali from Removals Expert Ltd told us that people often opt for a packing service when they don’t have time to do it themselves. Packing services also work well for people who have a lot of fragile or expensive items that they want the professionals to handle.
Alan Cook Removals and Storage Ltd’s Judith Gray said: ‘A partial pack can help customers who don’t want the full service. The kitchen is the worst room to pack, because of all the china, glassware, cutlery and so on. Some customers want us to take care of that for them, others will ask us to take care of their fragile goods, and others may start the packing but reach a stage where they can’t cope with it anymore, so we’ll take over.’
Find more information in our article on how to hire removal companies and house movers.
Removal companies have busy periods – just like any other trader – and it’s best to book in early. Richard Healey Removals Ltd’s Stuart Gordon said: ‘We encourage customers to get in touch the minute they think about moving. It’s not just about moving day; we can provide materials, recycling options and help with storage, too.’
Other traders recommended booking in around four to six weeks in advance if possible, and certainly as soon as you’ve got a potential completion date. This is particularly important if you want to move on a Friday, in summer, or in the run-up to Christmas, as these are often peak periods for removal companies.
There’s no point moving things you don’t use. Alan Cook Removals and Storage Ltd’s Judith Gray said: ‘We often find people put things in storage and then realise they haven’t missed them, when they come to collect them three or four months later.’
Let your removal company know about any changes to the move date. In turn, it will let you know if it’s getting busy on your move date, or if there are any other issues. You should expect the company to confirm your booking in writing.
WEMOVE’s Adam Maton told us: ‘People are dealing with solicitors and estate agents who are notoriously poor communicators. We want to remove some of that stress, so we’ll send automated texts to confirm we’re coming two days before the move, and there’ll be email confirmation of contract so it’s all in writing.’
It’s essential to label packing boxes clearly, so your belongings end up in the right place. ‘You can get pre-made removal stickers on Ebay for less than £5,’ WEMOVE’s Adam Maton said. ‘They’re really clear and make life easier for everyone.’
Packing takes longer than you think, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Your removal company may supply materials free of charge, or Amazon or Ebay are good sources, too.
Richard Healey Removals Ltd’s Stuart Gordon advises against using random boxes, as ‘different shapes and sizes will sink into one another and collapse, damaging the contents’.
‘We recommend double-wall boxes,’ Removals Expert Ltd’s Syed Ali told us. ‘Standard boxes have a single wall of cardboard, but double-wall boxes are stronger and can take more weight.’
Boxfill Removals and Storage’s Courtney Hill warns you not to overload boxes or make them too heavy. ‘Use smaller boxes for heavy items, such as books or records.’
‘Clear out your linen cupboard and use spare bedding and towels from your linen cupboard to line the tops and bottoms of boxes,’ counsels Stuart Gordon. ‘It reduces the overall volume of your move and is just as good as bubble wrap.’
Judith Gray advises wrapping china or glassware in newspaper or wrapping paper. Also, ‘stack plates vertically (like old vinyl records) to avoid putting pressure on those at the bottom of the pile’.
Use bubble wrap around pictures, mirrors or photo frames. You can use picture boxes for large pictures or oil paintings – they come in a range of sizes. Valuable paintings can be crated up in a wooden box.
‘Put boxes in one room, or a corner of each room, if possible. This makes it easier for the movers to get to the furniture, and cuts down on double handling on the day,’ says Stuart Gordon. ‘Get outdoor pots and plants undercover a few days before the move so they won’t get rained on and be muddy when you move them.’
On arrival, your movers will unload the boxes into the rooms you specify on the labels, and put boxes where you say. They will do a visual inspection and ask you to sign the job sheet, to confirm that all your belongings have arrived.
If you’re unpacking your belongings yourself, don’t rush. Unpack your essentials and then take it steadily.
You’ll need to check your insurance policy, but Stuart Gordon advises that ‘it’s best to unpack within a seven-day period, so if there are any damages that need to be claimed for, insurers will accept that as within a ‘reasonable time’.’
Syed Ali added: ‘If any items have sustained damage in transit, you can claim for this on the insurance. However, if you unpack items yourself, your claim will only be successful if it’s clear that the damage was sustained during the move, and not a result of your unpacking.
If you want your insurance to cover unpacking as well, you need to let the movers take care of it.’
Some removal companies will collect any packing materials from you to recycle them. If not, check your local authority site for details about how to recycle.
All the traders we spoke to were keen to receive feedback, in order to improve the service they offer. Remember if you use a Which? Trusted trader, you can leave a review on their profile page.
If you need to find a removal company, Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed removal businesses around the UK. All our accredited traders have passed a rigorous assessment process, which ensures they’re operating fairly and in line with current regulations. You also have access to an alternative dispute-resolution service should there be any problems.