In our last blog post, Moving Scams and How to Avoid Them, we discussed how you should conduct research on every moving company you’re considering. We also mentioned how important it is to obtain estimates from at least three different moving companies. But what exactly is an estimate, how is an estimate arrived at, and what’s the point of estimates? These are the questions we’ll answer below. We’ll also provide tips on receiving an estimate, factors that affect estimates, and how you can save a few bucks during your moving process.
What is an ‘estimate’ and what’s the point of one?
A moving estimate is a “best guess” about how much your move is going to cost. The point of an estimate is to provide you an accurate representation of how much you’ll be spending come moving day. When you receive an estimate, it should be the total cost of your entire service, not just the moving part.
Estimates also give you an idea which moving companies might be trying to scam you, and which ones are legitimate professionals. To learn more about how to spot moving scams, you can read our blog post on them here.
Move It With M&S LLC estimates
There are many ways to formulate estimates, and every moving company is different. Here’s how we develop ours.
Move It With M&S, LLC has two options for customers to choose from when it comes to estimates and paying – the hourly option and the flat rate option. The hourly option is based on how long the move will take. Costs vary depending on how prepared the customer is. The flat rate option means we’ll do the entire move for the specified price, with no surprised added. Special care items like pianos, antiques, or grandfather clocks are given flat rates, as are moves that have five items or fewer.
At Move It With M&S, we provide estimates in multiple ways. First, we can give phone estimates where we give you a best guess based on a few questions we’ll ask you. Second, we’ve got an estimate sheet listed on our website. You fill out your own inventory list, send it in, and get an email back with your estimate attached. Last, we conduct walk-throughs by appointment. Theresa or Louis – the company owners – will arrive at your house, get a feeling for how easy or difficult the move will be, fill out an inventory sheet, and prepare an estimate based on the details they noticed. This is how you get the most accurate estimate for your service.
When it comes to estimates, you can have peace of mind knowing that our quotes come directly from Theresa and Louis. Other moving companies may send salesmen to conduct their estimates. It’s also important to know that our estimates are built into our price. We never charge for an estimate, no matter if it’s a phone estimate or a full walk-through. Other companies may charge you for an estimate.
Tips for Getting a Moving Estimate
Never ever sign blank documents. For your protection, get everything in writing. If you sign a blank document, the company could add extra fees that you never agreed to.
Although receiving an estimate over the phone is easy and popular, an in-home walk-through is much more accurate. If you are trying to carefully budget your move, walk-throughs are the way to go.
Every professional moving company should create an inventory checklist. This helps provide an accurate estimate and ensures they didn’t forget anything. When you receive your checklist, make sure to check it for accuracy.
All the extra fees should be included in the estimate, unless you add items at the last minute. We’ll talk about extra fees in a minute.
Consider your moving date. Costs change based on the season, so while you’re getting an estimate, ask the moving company if you could save some money if you waited a few weeks.
Factors that Affect Moving Costs
Travel distance – the further away your new home is, the more you’ll need to pay
Size of the move – how large is your house? How many belongings do you have? This will affect how long the movers will take to get the job done. The less time it takes, the less expensive the move.
Packing services – if you’re hiring a moving company to pack your things before moving them, expect to pay a lot more.
Other add-on services – things like pianos, guns, and safes takea huge amount of care to pack and/or move. You’ll be paying more if you own items like these.
Supplies – moving companies might charge extra for the use of blankets, covers, floor protection, etc. Talk to them about extra supplies when getting an estimate.
Storage – a lot of moving companies offer storage for those who need it, but it comes with a price.
Date of move – you should expect to pay more during the busy summer months. When you ask for an estimate, see if you’d be able to save money if you waited a few weeks to move.
How ready you are to move – if you’re completely packed and ready to go, the move will go more smoothly, take less time, and have a lower price tag attached. On the other hand, if you still have magazines on your end tables, open boxes, and still have HGTV’s House Hunters playing on your DVR, your move is going to take longer and cost more.
Adding items – tell your moving company about all your items. If you add to the inventory list on the day of your move, you’ll be charged extra for the extra work.
Access – will the truck be able to fit into an easy loading zone? Are there flights of stairs, narrow openings, or things in the way of the truck? Is it muddy? Is the way clear for the movers? Will the movers have to carry your belongings far? If so, you might be charged extra.
How to Save Money While Moving
Moving is expensive enough. We want you to be able to save money in your moving process.
If you are moving due to work, your moving expenses could be tax-deductible. Also, if you donated items to pare down your belongings, you can probably deduct these as well. We’ve given you information on purging and donating items in this blog post.
Pack everything yourself. You’ll save money by packing your own stuff, as opposed to having a moving company do it for you. It’ll save time on the move, and you can spend the extra money on take-out and paper plates instead of the moving company’s packers and supplies.
Get rid of excess belongings. Whether you donate, sell, or throw away, the more you get rid of, the faster your move will go.
Rent a moving truck. Sometimes renting a moving truck and simply paying for labor from a moving company will save you hundreds of dollars.
Seek out free boxes. If you visit your local retail store, like Walmart, Target, or even grocery stores, you can ask to use the boxes they recycle instead of buying some. You might also find boxes on Craigslist or any local trading post Facebook groups or email lists.
Ask your moving company for possible discounts. It never hurts to ask!
Consider a less expensive move date. Summer weekends are prime moving time. Wednesdays in winter, not so much
Summing it all up
Moving is a sometimes stressful and complicated process. It’s important to understand different aspects of moving, especially estimates and pricing. Just remember that every moving company is different, so do your research and ask around.
Keep an eye out for our next blog post about large deposits, types of extra fees, asking about those fees, the benefits of paying on a credit/debit card, and getting everything in writing.
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