Moving house Removal companies: choosing the best
Moving house? Find out how to choose the best removals company and make sure your items get from your old home to your new one safely.
Unless you live in a small house or flat, it's always worth hiring a professional removals company to help you move. Although packing up and shifting your stuff may not sound that difficult, there is an art to packing fragile items so that they're properly protected and do not break in transit.
Removal men and women will also know how much weight they can carry and will do so in a safe way, so you can avoid hurting yourself.
How to choose the best removals company
Make sure your removals company is a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR), as this will mean they have the necessary training, expertise, insurance, experience and professionalism to carry out your move.
If recommendations and reviews are important to you, the Which? Trusted Traders endorsement scheme can help you find a removals company you can rely on. All removals firms granted Which? Trusted Trader status have passed our rigorous assessment process, which involves credit, reference and administrative checks, as well as an interview from a trained assessor.
An extra benefit of using a Which? Trusted Trader is that we have ombudsman services on hand to provide independent dispute resolution if things go wrong.
How much does it cost to use a removals company?
A number of factors will determine the cost of using a removals company. The amount of goods being transported is a key consideration, but the distance travelled, size of crew and speed of packing will also play a role in deciding the total cost.
A good removals firm will explain their charges and how you might be able to lower the cost. Many firms will offer a discount if you source your own packing materials and help with the packing, for example.
The table below estimates the cost of hiring a van to move yourself (which we don't recommend you do for a house with more than two bedrooms), using a removals company for different sizes of house and getting a removals company to pack for you as well.
|Estimated moving costs|
|One bedroom||Two bedrooms||Three bedrooms||Four bedrooms||Five bedrooms|
|Hiring a van||£100||£200||Not recommended||Not recommended||Not recommended|
|Add packing by a removals company||£150||£200||£250||£350||£400|
Find out more: preparing for moving day - expert tips on packing and preparing for the big move
Getting quotes from removals companies
Get at least three quotes from removals companies, preferably from firms that will visit your property rather than just estimating the cost over the phone.
This is particularly important when there are factors such as restricted access or very tight stairways, which will affect the job.
If you do get a quote from a company that isn't able to visit your home in person, be as honest and accurate as you can when listing your possessions, and don't forget the contents of a loft or garage.
If you're relocating to a different part of the country, it may be worth getting an estimate from a firm based in the area you're moving to, as prices there could be more competitive.
Ask for the estimate to be broken down so that you can see how much you'd be paying for insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and any storage costs. This will help you compare quotes more accurately. Find out whether overtime rates apply and, if so, what time they start.
Expert tip: heavy or tall lorries can’t always cope with steep gradients, tight bends or uneven roads. Check whether there are access or parking problems at the other end - you may need to contact the police or council to get permission to unload, or to have a parking meter suspended.
Be sure to ask what would happen if the move is delayed and you can't get into the new property in the afternoon or the next day
Check that your removals company has adequate insurance cover and also what the time limit is on claiming on insurance after the move.
If you have any high-value possessions, check whether they need special packing and also whether they'll be covered by insurance (some policies set a limit per item).
You can choose to do some of the packing yourself, which will save on costs, but steer clear of packing breakables and remember the removal firm's insurance will not cover items you pack.
Find out more: six tips for moving home smoothly - advice for a hassle-free moving day
Briefing a removals firm
Once you've chosen your removals firm, it can be helpful to send them a briefing sheet listing:
- any items needing special packing, such as pictures, antiques and valuable objects
- difficult-to-move items, such as pianos
- wardrobes or other large furniture that may need to be dismantled
- any carpets and curtains that are going
- items that you are shifting yourself
- a floorplan of the new property so that they can put boxes in the correct rooms when unloading.
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