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10 moving house nightmares and how to avoid them

Everyone wants their house move to go smoothly, but if you haven’t done the preparation and research ahead of moving day, there’s a chance you’re headed for disaster.

10 moving house nightmares and how to avoid them

1. The van is too small

That sinking feeling when the removals van turns up and it’s definitely going to be too small is a special kind of panic. If the van is too small, it means more trips back and forth, pushing back your timings and possibly costing you more. In really bad situations, the removals team could be booked elsewhere after, and not be able to fully complete your move. The incorrect van size can cost you more, cause you stress, and mean you have to go back and forth, stuffing more items into your own car, and possibly throwing things away just to get the move completed on time. This is obviously even worse if you’re moving quite a distance.
Problem solver: Always ensure your removals team come to survey the house and assess how much stuff you have to move in person. They are the experts and will be able to organise the correct sized van. Always be sure to show/list in advance everything that will need to be moved.

Our van size guide will give you more information about the vans that are available, and which one you might need.

2. The removals company can’t access the property

You know your home better than anyone. If it’s hard to park, on a busy main street or constantly patrolled by diligent parking wardens, then you’re likely to have a problem. Making your removals team walk for ages with your heavy furniture to reach the van is not an option – it will take much longer and you’ll likely be charged for this extra time. You’re also likely to have a very unhappy team.

Problem solver: Take care of parking ahead of time! If you live on a road requiring parking permits, make sure you have them to hand ready on the day. If you think there’ll be a problem parking, ask your neighbours if they mind being blocked in or their space being used during the hours you’ll be loading. In some cases it may be necessary to contact your local council to suspend parking restrictions whilst you’re loading. Ask if the removals team can do this, and supply them with all the information they might need. If they can’t do this, you will need to, and the council will need at least 7 days notice to consider the case. You will have to cover the cost of the suspension.

Top tip: Don’t forget this also applies to unloading at the other end! Make sure there is easy access to the property, and that someone is waiting for the removals team with the keys! The longer a removals team is waiting for you to arrive to start unloading, the more it could cost you.

3. The removals team charge you more for extras

It’s important to be clear on what you’re paying for from your removals team. If you keep the team hanging around, haven’t given them enough information or haven’t packed properly (or finished packing), it’s likely you are going to be charged more for the extra effort or time of the team. Extra services can include packing, disassembling or reassembling items, unpacking or providing packing materials. It’s unpleasant to be charged for extras you didn’t expect, but that can be avoided by planning and being clear about what you expect from your removals team.

Problem solver: Be clear about what you want, and don’t expect removals teams to automatically disassemble items for you. If you won’t be able to take your wardrobe or bed apart without help, ask how much the removals team charge for this service, and make sure they know on the day, so they can bring the correct tools. Warn them if you’ll need the items reassembled on the other side. If you suddenly realise there are items that can’t be removed without disassembly, tell your team as soon as possible. Be sure to know what extra services cost in advance.

4. Breakages or missing items

It sounds surprising, but items can go missing even in the seemingly straightforward journey from one property to another! If the removals team still have items from another move, or if you’re moving internationally with multiple legs of the journey, mistakes can be made.
Problem solver: Be sure to label and number all your boxes so you know exactly what you have. You could even tick them off on arrival at the new property so you can immediately tell if anything is missing. Be sure not to leave items unattended, or leave your doors open or unlocked whilst dealing with packing. Often having a removals team with a uniform, and ensuring you're clear on who is working for you on arrival can make sure no one just comes along and takes anything.

Always be sure to insure items before your move, and consider how you would feel if anything was damaged. There is always the chance with moving that some items might be slightly damaged or scuffed – be sure to package delicate items carefully and clearly label the items or boxes as fragile.

5. There are items that can’t be moved by the removals team

There is nothing worse than thinking you are all ready to go, and the realising there are items that have to stay behind. Electrical or plumbing items like dishwashers or washing machines need to be disconnected properly before being moved. A moving team will not do this for you. Another example is not properly emptying or defrosting fridges or freezers – the removals team would not want to put a heavy freezer full of food to slowly defrost and leak water all over your items in the van.

Problem solver: Always do a final look around a few days before leaving your property – it becomes easy to ignore items we’ve never had to move before, but if you’re not leaving your white goods for the next owner, get them disconnected appropriately.

Top Tip: Don’t forget garden tools and greenery – if you’re transporting things like lawnmowers, always make sure they have been emptied and cleaned. If transporting large potted plants, you may need to empty out the soil, as this will not only make it heavy, but create a mess in the van.

6. Late arrivals

The longer you’re left waiting, the longer it takes to load the van and the longer you’re waiting to enter your dream home. Confirm dates and times with your removals team in advance, and if you’re on a deadline, let them know. If you know traffic is going to be a problem, factor that in, and share any tips about the local journey with the team so they can be prepared. If a team arrives late due to another job, or a mix up on their end, you shouldn’t have to pay from the time they arrived, so keep an eye on the clock to ensure you’re paying the correct rate for the time the removals team were there.

Problem solver: Be clear with the removals team about the expected date, time and location, and try to get it confirmed by email. Give any information necessary, like directions, knowledge of local traffic, or details of any works going on, and always make sure the removals team have a couple of numbers to reach you on, so they can keep you up to date if there are any delays.

7. Packing the kettle

You’ve said goodbye to the old place, you’ve started unloading your boxes and the one thing you really need to keep yourself going? A strong cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

But shock horror – you can’t quite remember which box you packed it in. With a 3-4 bedroom house usually equalling about 35 boxes, you might have to spend some time searching. Meaning you’re running on empty, and your removals team might be grouchy too!

Problem solver: Pack the kettle last, along with enough mugs, tea, coffee, sugar and milk that you could keep in a cool bag. If you’re really eager to keep your energy levels up and your removals team happy, pack some easy snacks like biscuits, cereal bars or pre-prepared sandwiches.

Don’t forget the simplest things are always the ones you forget – teaspoons and toilet paper.

8. Forgetting to set aside your overnight bags

In the same category as forgetting your first cuppa, it’s easy to forget that whilst you’ll be moved in, you might be too exhausted to unpack everything in that first day. Pack yourself a suitcase or overnight bag, especially if you are going to be going to work. Packing toiletries, clothes, medications and anything you need to hand in the first few days is a good idea.

Problem solver: pack as if you’re going on holiday – what would you need in terms of toiletries, clothing, chargers? Add your paperwork to this as you never know what you might need to hand. Keep a bag for pets so they have access to their food, regular bowl and any toys for comfort. If you’re moving with kids, something to keep them occupied and comfortable in their new home is a good idea. And don’t forget your toothbrush!

9. Not checking your insurance

You’ll need buildings insurance set up from the moment the property becomes yours, but goods and transit insurance for your items when they’re on the move is always a good idea. Even if you’re only moving a few miles down the road, accidents can and do happen, and you should always be prepared.

Problem solver: Get insurance for your move, and make sure you study the documentation carefully so you know what’s involved. Your removals team will be covered up to a certain amount per item, but if you have expensive items that would cost a lot to replace or fix, it’s worth getting your own. Often your removals team will be able to sell this to you, or recommend an appropriate provider.

10. Mess or damage to property

Moving can be messy. All that moving in and out, trying to slide difficult items out of doorways... when you’re on a deadline, edges get knocked, wallpaper gets caught, things get broken. You also can’t control the weather – if you’re moving on a snowy or rainy day, you’re likely to track mud or water into both your old home and your new one. Your buyers arriving to mud stained carpets and dented doorways could leave you having to pay out.

Problem solver: Ask your removals team what protective items they have. They may put down floor coverings to keep carpets clean, or have a plan of action when it comes to rain and snow. Wrap up all your items carefully, and dismantle as much as you can ahead of time so you’re not left trying to force something through a doorway that just won’t go. If damage does happen, whether that’s furniture, flooring or the removals van knocking over your fence post, take pictures as soon it happens. Don’t wait too long to talk to the removals team about it, as there is often a time limit if you’re looking to claim compensation.

What happens if things do go wrong?

No one wants to think about what might go wrong with their move, but accidents do happen. By following our problem solving tips above, you’re likely to cut down on the risk of any problems, but just in case, you should know what to do.

Check your contract – make sure you know what your removals team is obligated to provide, when you’ll incur extra charges and get everything confirmed by email. Read all the small print so there are no nasty surprises.

Insurance – make sure you’re covered. Your house might be the biggest thing you’ve bought, but it’s your things that make it a home.

Claims – if items are missing or broken, get in touch with your removals team as soon as possible to discuss. They may be able to find the missing items, or may offer some compensation. Having photographs of any damage, or clear lists of numbered boxes/an inventory can help in this case.

Ombudsman – if you and the removals team can’t agree on an outcome, and you have booked your removals team through reallymoving, you will have access to a Removals Ombudsman. This is an independent service to solve disputes between two parties. The ombudsman will hear both sides of the case, read evidence and make a judgement.
The main ways to avoid any issues on removals day is by picking a removals team who are highly experienced and recommended. Spending time reading reviews will help you make an informed decision. Be sure to ask questions when meeting your removals manager, and follow our tips above to make sure your move is stress free!

Updated February 2020

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