Looking for a moving company in the Washington, D.C. area offers a smorgasbord of choices. Finding the right moving company for your circumstances isn’t difficult, but first, you should determine what services you want or need to pay for.
Moving services can be minimal, full-service, or anywhere in between. If you are looking for a bare-bones service level, you will need to manage most of the preparation work yourself and have things ready to go when the movers arrive on relocation day. If you prefer a full-service approach, movers can do the packing, unpacking, preparation of your new residence, even dispose of rubbish at the home you are moving from.
There are plenty of moving checklists available, and moving is a great time to declutter and donate unwanted items to a nonprofit (or a relative). You may also want to sell some things before you move. If you are going to sell or otherwise dispose of anything significant, you may want to do that before getting moving quotes or be ready to identify the items that will be excluded from the move. If you are going to engage the moving company to pack your goods for you, consider spending some time ahead of the move sorting through what you have in an effort to reduce the overall quantity.
Every move is different, so the best way to determine what the movie is going to cost is to obtain several estimates. The factors that determine the price are how much stuff you are moving, how far it is moving, and the other services and logistics involved in the move. When you gather quotes from several local DC movers, you will learn more about the factors that contribute to the overall price and how you can influence your bill. At the same time, you have the opportunity to interact with potential service providers, which helps in the selection process. A two-bedroom apartment’s local move may be made for around $1,000, while a long-distance move of 7500 pounds will typically cost about $4,100.
First, ensure that you are getting estimates from reputable, licensed moving companies. That’s the best way to protect yourself from a shady operator and avoid problems with the move. FMCSA (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) regulates moving companies that operate in more than one state and requires that they register and have a DOT motor carrier number. FMCSA rules mandate that movers come to your residence to complete a visual survey of the goods you want to move. This step is necessary for the mover to establish an accurate assessment of the shipment’s weight and create a complete inventory of what’s being transported.
Experts and consumer advocates recommend that you get three or more rate quotes before you decide. The estimates should specify if they are binding or nonbinding. A nonbinding estimate is not a guaranteed price. For example, if a mover gives you a nonbinding estimate that states that your shipment weighs 6,000 pounds and offers to move it for $4,000, the price could be higher if the load actually weighs 7,000 pounds. If the estimate is binding and the weight is incorrect, the price will remain the same unless the weight increases because you add something to the shipment.
FMCSA requires that moving companies supply consumers with a copy of their tariff, which is a list of all the fees they might charge you for other services. Some of these services are voluntary, like packing. The mover will offer you an hourly rate for packing your dishes, books, linens, clothing, and everything else. Because they are professionals, they are efficient and skilled at packing. They will also include a charge for the packing materials needed to complete the work. One thing to keep in mind is that if you pack your own containers, the movers won’t assume liability for anything inside that is damaged unless they damage the box. For example, if you pack a carton of glassware and the movers drop it, your insurance won’t protect you because presumably, you didn’t pack it to their standards. If the movers pack the glassware box and drop it, then the insurance (properly called valuation) is in effect because the breakage is their responsibility. It might make sense to engage the movers to pack some items, even if you decide to do part of the work yourself.
If you pack some or all the boxes on your own, start early, but begin with the things you won’t need before moving. You can collect boxes from your office or from friends who have recently moved. You can buy them from a home improvement store for less money than the moving company will charge if you can’t get an adequate supply of used containers. If you plan well, you can use linens and clothing to replace packing paper and bubble wrap to protect knick-knacks and dishware. Clearly label the boxes and keep your own inventory.
Other services that will add to the cost of the move include extra labor. If you have artwork that needs special handling, the movers will charge for that, but it pays to be careful with your valuable items. The mover knows how to crate your paintings or sculptures so they don’t suffer any damage. If you have large or bulky items such as pool tables, pianos, hot tubs, or exercise equipment, the mover will quote special pricing to move those. Some furniture requires disassembly, and that adds to the price. The mover may or may not be willing to disconnect appliances for a fee, but if not, they will likely be able to recommend a vendor to do that before the move.
Some services that add to the labor charge are for circumstances you can’t control. If you have more than one flight of stairs, you will probably incur a flight charge. Similarly, if your building has an elevator and you can’t reserve it for exclusive use, the company will add an amount for the elevator waiting time. If the moving truck can’t park directly adjacent to the building, you will pay either for a long carry or a shuttle, depending on the distance. Finally, if your destination residence is not ready or something else holds up your delivery, the mover will unload your shipment into storage, which will also cost more.
Typically, the answer is yes. If you look at your insurance choices, the safe bet is to pay the extra charge for the higher level of protection. Everyone hopes that the move goes smoothly, and nothing gets lost or damaged. But things don’t always go as planned. Your move cost includes a basic level of protection at no extra cost. Still, if something you care about is broken or missing, that negligible protection isn’t likely to provide the reimbursement you need to repair or replace that item. The “no-charge” insurance valuation will give you $0.60 per pound as reimbursement for something destroyed or lost. That means that if your $400.00 interview suit weighs three pounds, the movers are going to give you $1.80 if they ruin it. And your brand-new flat-screen television that weighs twenty pounds is only covered for $12.00. When you think about it that way, it makes sense to pay for the full replacement value coverage. Look at the cost and deductible that are described on the estimate. Also, ensure that you list any item worth over $100 per pound on the inventory and that the mover is aware of it. Finally, anything irreplaceable shouldn’t go in the moving truck. Take it with you, and drive safely.