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What to look for with movers in Northern VA/DC area?
December 31, 2012 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Moving just up the road in Arlington (Northern VA) but have quite a bit of stuff that I don't trust me and my friends to not mess up. So what do I look for in a professional moving company?

Due to my landlord moving back in (issues on his side, not mine), I'll be moving to a new place roughly a mile away in about 3 weeks. However, I'll be moving a 1BR apartment's worth of stuff, including at least one large couch, an entertainment center including a big-screen TV, and a bed. Since I don't have a car and several of the items are large, delicate, and/or expensive, I've decided to go with a professional moving company. This will be my first professional move (i.e., not just grabbing a bunch of friends to help), so I have couple questions:

1) What should I be looking for in terms of rates, insurance (bonded?), etc? I'm estimating maybe 3-4 hours, but I don't know how accurate that would be.
2) How should I arrange transportation? Do I ride with them or rent a car for a couple hours, or just walk there while they're packing the truck up?
3) What exactly will I need to do other than packing beforehand and setting up pick-up and drop-off logistics with the respective building management? I have most if not all of the packaging for my electronics (including the TV), but I've heard that I should let movers pack them because they won't be held responsible for poor packaging.

And of course, any suggestions as to specific movers would be appreciated as well. Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by zombieflanders to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bookstore Movers on Capitol Hill are great.
posted by princelyfox at 6:04 AM on December 31, 2012


"Two Guys and a Truck" has been the company I've used to move all over the DC area.

And yes about the electronics thing: while I am one of those people who keeps the original boxes for most of his electronics, I don't have the box for my flat screen tv. I mentioned this ahead of time to the movers, and they took care of it.

My advice is to stick around the entire time while they are moving your things into the truck. This will allow you to make sure that no one from off the street messes with your stuff while it is sitting in the back of the truck. It is perfectly ok to ask them if you can ride along to the destination.
posted by deanc at 6:13 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like to use a site called Angie's List to find reputable help. I found a great electrician that way and I'll bet that they have useful reviews of movers on there too.
posted by dylan_k at 6:44 AM on December 31, 2012


I had a phenomenally good experience with Big Green Movers. On Yelp, it appears that the only negative reviews are from people who didn't actually hire them. Great guys, very reasonably priced. They helped me put my Ikea bookcase back together for free, just to be helpful.

You can ask companies you call what to do about the TV and whether you can ride in the truck. They'll be happy to answer. Good luck with the move!
posted by decathecting at 6:53 AM on December 31, 2012


1) What should I be looking for in terms of rates, insurance (bonded?), etc? I'm estimating maybe 3-4 hours, but I don't know how accurate that would be.
Pick two or three companies, call them up, and arrange for estimates. No reputable mover would agree to a job without seeing your stuff and the places (or at least one place and an idea of the situation on the other end (e.g., are there stairs, is there a narrow hallway)) anyway.

2) How should I arrange transportation? Do I ride with them or rent a car for a couple hours, or just walk there while they're packing the truck up?
You could probably ride with them in the truck (ask the person who comes out to give you the estimate), but if it's a mile, I would just wait for them to pack it up and close the truck, then tell them you're walking to the new place, so they can take a break when they arrive. I suspect they won't mind.

3) What exactly will I need to do other than packing beforehand and setting up pick-up and drop-off logistics with the respective building management? I have most if not all of the packaging for my electronics (including the TV), but I've heard that I should let movers pack them because they won't be held responsible for poor packaging.
As part of the estimator's visit, point out exactly what you want packed and have any original packaging available for that person to check out. They have people who are good at that, and as you've heard, it's better for them to do it, because if something breaks in a box they packed, they have to pay you for it.
posted by Etrigan at 6:54 AM on December 31, 2012


My friends swear by My Truck Buddy in Alexandria.
posted by mrsshotglass at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2012


I would ask a few friends for recommendations. Everyone has moved a few times. I'm not sure I would recommend the movers we used - they were kind of aggressive with one of our items but it ended up not being a big deal. Get estimates from a few sources - if you tell them about how big your place is, they should be able to give you an idea. When we had movers, my husband went with them to the new place while I stayed home so that might be a good job for a friend. Just double-check that that's okay when you get estimates. Also, with the new place, try to have an idea of where you would like the big stuff to go - that will help the movers and you if they can put the bed right where you want it.

A few small points - be sure that your moving plans are okay with the building management at both places. When I was moving in and out of a previous apartment, we didn't realize that we weren't allowed to move on Saturday or Sunday and we weren't supposed to use the main elevator. Some buildings also put padding on the elevators so they don't get damaged.

Talk to your current landlord about moving out procedures and doing a walk through so neither of you have any surprises or questions regarding your deposit. My husband has had to argue with every landlord to get our deposits back. We even went to small claims court with one landlord. You might also want to look up what the law is regarding such deposits. In DC, it's pretty awesome - your landlord has 30 days to either send you your deposit or a letter explaining why you are not getting your deposit back. If they do not communicate with you in 30 days, you are entitled to your deposit back, period. I hope you don't need to go to court but it doesn't hurt to know what the deal is.
posted by kat518 at 8:23 AM on December 31, 2012


I've had great experiences with Big Green Movers and DC Van Lines, and a really bad experience with Two Marines Moving. I received a lot of recommendations for Bookstore Movers, which princelyfox mentioned above, but they weren't available the week we wanted to move this year. I've also heard good things about Gentle Giant movers, who also weren't available for us this year. So call movers early!!!

Now to answer your other questions.

1) Always add an hour or two to the estimate they give you because their original estimate will not be accurate (they don't know the buildings, steps, elevators, etc...) and unless you have something very valuable, just go with whatever insurance they offer, which will typically be by weight of the item damaged (like X cents per pound).

2) Don't leave while they are packing up the truck. Ask a friend to drive you over there, and either ask the truck to follow you or tell them exactly how you want them to get there. Our truck arrived at our new house half an hour after we did, even though we left at the same time. They charged us for that half hour.

3) It saves time to pack things up yourself, and items that you have the original packaging for are meant to be in that packaging, so you should be fine. They may wrap up other things like furniture to ensure that corners don't get banged up. But make sure they don't spend too much time on this because it will cost you money.

Finally, make sure you can reserve elevators with your landlords and don't bother spending too much time cleaning because they will definitely find something to charge you for. I learned this the hard way! Oh, and take pictures of the place after you move out, but before the walk through. And same goes for before you move in to the new place.
posted by echo0720 at 2:47 PM on December 31, 2012


Just wanted to thank everybody for their suggestions. I ended up going with Big Green Movers, and they were excellent. They even made a quick adjustment when my new place told me they had to delay my move-in date, which was impressive.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:02 AM on January 24, 2013


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