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How do I find the best house movers near me?

If you are moving from one house to another, you want to find the best moving company to help you make the relocation as simple as possible. You need a partner for this project that knows what the moving business is all about and can do a great job for a fair price. That shouldn’t be too much to ask, and it isn’t. You can find the right moving vendor by following some simple steps and watching out for a few pitfalls.

What do I look for in a house mover?

First, look for a licensed mover, registered with the proper state or federal agency. If you are using a company that performs interstate moves, it will have a Motor Carrier number for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA has responsibility for regulating interstate carriers. FMCSA has a website with safety information on moving companies and records about complaints filed against them by consumers. The website also has many helpful resources, including a publication titled Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. This brochure, which movers must provide to you when they give you a quote for their services, contains the rules for movers and brokers. It also has tips for you to follow to avoid scams and explains moving company jargon, so you don’t get lost in the conversation.

Keep in mind that even if your move is just across town, if the moving company you choose also performs interstate jobs, it is still required to register with FMCSA and abide by those rules. So you can benefit from the regulations and the high standards by choosing a mover that complies with them.

What are the essential rules that movers must follow?

Most of the rules are to provide transparency to consumers or to protect you from shady practices. One good example is regarding estimates. The moving company must come to your residence and conduct an in-person survey of the household goods you want to move before giving you an estimate for the move’s cost. There are two exceptions. The first is if the residence is further than 50 miles from the movers’ office (or their broker or agent) and second if the customer waives the requirement. Experts recommend that you not waive the condition and find a mover within the 50-mile radius. The reason is that the moving company representative needs to look at what you are moving to accurately determine how much it weights, which is how they determine what the cost will be. A mover that doesn’t want to do the visual survey could be shady and might be planning a low-ball estimate. You always want to get more than one estimate, and ideally, take the time to get at least three.

When the mover comes to do the survey, you have the opportunity to meet them, chat, and interact. This is an integral part of the selection process. Remember, you will be trusting these people with your personal goods, furniture, dishes, clothes, and kids’ toys. Take the time to determine that you are choosing a company that deserves your trust.

What do I need to know about estimates?

There are three main types of estimates for interstate moves. Local moves are usually quoted by the hour, while long-distance shipments are estimated by weight. If you have a non-binding estimate, that means that the price you get will go up if the goods’ actual weight turns out to be higher. That’s one reason why it is crucial to review the inventory that the mover creates during the survey and be sure that everything you plan to move is on it. If you get one estimate that is significantly lower than the others, dig deeper and ask why. Ask the moving company to provide more than one estimate, based on possible different weights. The good news about a non-binding estimate is that the price quoted can also go lower if the weight forecast was too high.

If your mover gives you a binding estimate, you have the security of knowing that the price on the quote is the price you will pay if you do not add any services or items to the move. Some companies charge for binding estimates, and some are reluctant to provide them. Keep in mind that if you decide to bring a couch that you previously told the commercial movers not to include in the inventory, the price will rise to reflect the added weight. Adding packing services, or a stop along the way to pick up some stuff your Mom wants to give you will also result in a cost increase.

The third type is called binding not-to-exceed, which means that the amount quoted can go down if the weight is lower than estimated but can’t go up. All the same, the mover will add on a fee if there are conditions present at the destination that prohibit it from completing the delivery with standard labor and equipment. This might not be foreseeable and can result in a cost billed to you after the delivery of your shipment. FMCSA sets limits on how much you can be required to pay for such conditions (called impracticable operations) on the day of delivery. Again, if the move is just across town, you won’t have any surprises at the destination address. Local moves are usually less complicated to price, but most experts still recommend getting more than one estimate. The company will provide you with a fee based on the number of small movers at an hourly price multiplied by the number of hours needed to do the work and extra charges for heavy or bulky items or long carries. Most will charge extra for stairs and elevators as well as drive time.

What if something goes wrong with my move?

Fortunately, if you choose your move partner thoughtfully, your move will probably be a success. But accidents do happen, and sometimes something that you have in the truck gets lost or broken. You don’t want to think about this, and your mover doesn’t want to talk about it either. But you do need to ask in advance about the company’s process for dispute resolution and arbitration. They have one and should be willing to share the details with you.

Equally important is your choice of valuation protection. By regulation, the estimate will include two options for valuing your shipment. Valuation is like insurance, but the moving company has the liability rather than an insurance carrier. The mover will provide a valuation of $0.60 per pound for your household goods at no cost to you. When you move, that is a tempting choice, since you may be looking for ways to save money. Be careful. $0.60 per pound means each item, weighed individually. So, a one-pound coffee cup can be replaced for sixty cents, and maybe a 10-pound box of linens for $6.00 isn’t a terrible loss. But if your 20-pound flatscreen television falls over and cracks, that reimbursement of $12.00 is going to seem pretty meager. Look closely at the terms and costs of the replacement value (full protection) option that the mover will put in the estimate for your review. It will have an extra cost associated with it and a deductible, but it is probably the better choice. Any individual article of “extraordinary value” (defined as over $100 per pound) must be itemized on the inventory to be covered. The overall value of the shipment is declared before transport. Adequate coverage gives you peace of mind to relax and not worry about every little bump in the road.

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