What do I need to do before the (full-service) movers arrive?
July 19, 2019 6:52 AM   Subscribe

For the first time in my life, I'm using the kind of movers who pack for you, and I want to make sure the whole thing goes as smoothly as possible. What can/should I do before they arrive to ensure that?

Assume I'm already doing some level of de-clutter, and mostly looking for non-obvious answers-- for example, it just occurred to me that I should wash and fold all the curtains now.
posted by dizziest to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Make sure you clearly segregate anything you're going to move yourself, like a box with the basics to open at your new place (TP, a couple of towels, coffee/coffeemaker, pillow, sheets, etc.) They will pack EVERYTHING and it will be done very quickly. When the Army moved us, we had a team of three that did the packing. We bought them lunch and provided drinks during the day; they were very appreciative.

Having packers is the greatest thing ever.
posted by XtineHutch at 6:59 AM on July 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I found it very helpful to also hire an organizer to help before packing because we had a lot of decluttering to do and having fresh eyes on the problem was like magic. It was a relief to know that was all done because when the packers show up they just do their thing, also like magic.
posted by bleep at 7:08 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Personally, I would take an inventory and some pictures of my more valuable items to document their good condition pre-packing and move ... just in case. I'm thinking things like documenting the serial numbers of expensive electronics in case they go missing, taking pictures of say the TV screen without cracks etc.
posted by ramble-on-prose at 7:09 AM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Do you have a plan of where extra large furniture items will go in your new home? Getting movers to carry the huge stuff to those specific rooms saves you time and grief.
It's nice to put some water bottles in the fridge and tell them to help themselves to those, too.
posted by Geameade at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Empty the trash cans, otherwise the trash will be moved with everything else.
posted by rockindata at 7:20 AM on July 19, 2019 [20 favorites]

Empty the old coffee grounds from the coffeemaker and take out the trash. They will pack literally everything, even things you wouldn't in a million years think anyone would ever pack. When they're getting close to the end, take a look and see what they've missed...we almost left the contents of our medicine cabinet in our old place.
But I agree, having the movers pack is the best! I don't think we can go back. Good luck with your move!
posted by CiaoMela at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

There are some "dangerous" things that should not be packed, like matches, propane tanks, and other combustible liquids. The reason is that a moving truck can sit in the hot sun, and these things can spontaneously catch fire inside a moving box. Do a sweep through your house and segregate all that stuff. You could designate one closet as where you'll put your "DO NOT PACK" stuff and clearly label it with a big sign.

Second, any things you'll want to take with you to your new place rather than have it packed. Medication, toothbrush, cellphone, wallet/driver's licence, laptop, phone/computer chargers. As well as the "just arrived" supplies mentioned by XtineHutch above. Assume that EVERYTHING lying out will get put in boxes and put in the truck.
posted by heatherlogan at 7:23 AM on July 19, 2019 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Piling on that they will pack everything. For example, we left out a tabletop salt bowl about the size of an espresso cup. They packed the bowl in one paper wrap, the lid in another, and the few tablespoons of loose salt inside a third paper wrap. As a follow-up to that, you will have so much paper and so many boxes at the end. Even if they are coming to take it away you will need more space than you think to store it until then.

Our move came with an inventory with stickers that we were supposed to check going out and coming in; even with two adults we were not able to keep up with that. If that's something you want to do you should have multiple people especially on the move in. They will be bringing in boxes faster that one person can reasonably check them off AND direct them on where to put it.

We're still pulling those stupid stickers off things 5 years later.

As a fun side note, the old professional moving term for all the loose stuff you can't easily put in boxes is apparently 'chowder'.
posted by true at 7:34 AM on July 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

If any doors needed to come off to get your furniture in, take them off again ahead of time -- and don't forget the "do not pack" signs for them! If you've built anything inside of the rooms, measure it carefully to determine whether it can actually exit and plan accordingly.

If you're bringing large appliances, check whether they have disconnect/drainage procedures that need to be done ahead of time.
posted by teremala at 7:38 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Our movers wrapped everything in very large sheets of paper, including individual forks. I'm sure we threw out some forks because we thought we were just throwing out paper. So be careful when you're unpacking small items.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you have any dark furniture, make sure they will be wrapping it carefully (ask up front). We have a pair of cherrywood finish end tables, sort of like this, only with more beveled edges.

Last time we used professional movers, one ended up being scratched on one corner, and then I wasn't sure if we'd done it or the movers had done it (I was 99% sure they'd done it).

As someone said, take pictures. The day of the move, it gets so hectic, you might not be capable of inspecting every little thing. I ended up letting it go, but won't use that moving company again.

Also: one time my boss had his cellphone charger packed, and had to buy a new one in the meantime, until it was found in whatever box they'd put it in.

I used plastic tubs for my "stay with me" things, like toiletries, spare towels for the 2 of us, 1 roll of TP, cleaning supplies & roll of paper towels. Those went in the car before the movers came through.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you have any furniture with knobs/drawer handles that are particularly delicate, just unscrew or take them off now and secure the doors shut. Otherwise they will get broken!
posted by stellaluna at 8:30 AM on July 19, 2019

Put a label or mark every box they pack with a destination (living rooms, dining room, master bedroom, attic, etc., so that there's no confusion at the receiving end and everything goes to its proper place.

Also, be really anal about recording the inventory at both ends. Once the empty truck departs, if you're missing something your chances of recovery or compensation are slim.
posted by beagle at 9:14 AM on July 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Aggressively discard and donate before they arrive. Identify any valuables that you'll want to take yourself, and set them aside (I've locked them into a car so the movers couldn't accidentally pack them).

Have a plan for where you'll put large items like furniture and rugs upon receipt. They might move items into your house at an uncomfortably face pace; if they do, be firm about knowing what has come into the house, and that the large items are going in the right spot of the right room.

I'd recommend _not_ paying for a full unpack on the destination side. With a full unpack, they don't typically put the smaller boxed items where you want them; they put them on the nearest flat surface. As such, a full unpack has the advantage that the boxes and paper will be gone. But it's offset by all of your household goods being scattered over countertops and floors.

Buy them some pizzas and soda or similar for lunch.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 9:50 AM on July 19, 2019

Best answer: Nthing the warning that they will pack anything, even things that seem like they very obviously should not be packed, so guard or label those items very carefully. The long-gone 10-year old in me is still mildly traumatized over the time movers came and packed my ant farm.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

Movers don't like carrying singleton items, even if they're relatively large. I've done this a few times and for all the odds and ends the movers have brought tall open-top wardrobe boxes to essentially dump all items that aren't already boxed. So for example in one box they put some framed posters, a lamp, some mops and a bag of pillows. If there's *anything* that is breakable or scratchable make sure you wrap it because the mover isn't going to move a lamp by itself if they can put it in a large open-top box with a bunch of other stuff.

I've found it much easier to pack clothes in heavy duty garbage bags as opposed to packing in boxes.
posted by homesickness at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2019

Best answer: Before the movers arrive and while they are packing:

This is a really good time to give your furniture a thorough cleaning or at least dusting, inside and out. It’s surprising how dirty/dusty furniture gets just sitting around. This is a great time to wax your furniture if you have any pieces that require it. This saves time on the other end and makes setting up house much more pleasant. If space it tight on the other side you should take measurements of your furniture to help you decide placement on the other side.

The movers will disassemble your tables and possibly other items of furniture. They are supposed to put all the screws in a “parts” box. You might want to be there for the disassembly so that you can hold onto the screws and keep them organized, perhaps by putting them in separate ziplock bag labeled with a Sharpie. This makes it a lot easier on the other side. The movers are supposed to reassemble everything and it’s more convenient if you have all the screws already organized. Keep in mind that they will remove shelves from bookcases ( you may want to hold onto the pegs), screw-in levelers on the bottom of furniture, knobs from the front of cabinets, legs from the bottom of your sofa. Again, it’s a lot easier on the other side if you personally organize all these pieces.

If at all possible, do not allow movers to pack video game consoles and video games. Those will be the first thing to disappear. Same with any other small but pricey electronics.

Check the inventory for the “condition” of the furniture. Usually the driver of the moving truck, on the day the truck is loaded, will put stickers on your furniture and add them to the inventory. They will generally exaggerate (a.ka. LIE about )the condition of your furniture and say it is damaged, scratched, dented, torn. This gives them deniability if your furniture is damaged in the move. Obviously, you should dispute this on the day it happens, but even better, take pictures of all your furniture from all sides.

At the other end:

About the stickers that movers place on everything. When you get to the other side, what you do is sit next to the moving truck as the movers are unloading. They will call out numbers, but instead of frantically trying to find the matching box to check off, you simply write down the number on a pad of paper, along with a very short description of the item. You can insist on looking at the sticker as well. After all you are right next to the truck and they’ll be walking past you as they unload everything.

When the entire truck is unloaded you then take your time making sure that the numbers on your pad and the numbers on the shipping inventory all match up and nothing is missing. At this time you will check your furniture for damage.

Make sure they reassemble all your furniture. It won’t generally be the same crew that disassembled, though it might be, and if it’s not they might give you a hard time about reassembly. Not the guys who do the work, but the supervisor who is paying them by the hour and trying to get out of there as quickly as possible. But you can insist and supervise to make sure it’s done correctly.

The labels on the boxes are usually not very accurate. However, they can help to you decide what goes upstairs vs. downstairs. Definitely insist on the upstairs boxes being brought upstairs. You can put signs up on the room doors so that movers know what you mean by “office” or “boy’s room” etc., and they will make sure the labeled boxes go in correct room.

Furniture placement. The movers do have to bring items of furniture to the right place in the home, so make a plan before they arrive. They don’t have to move the piece again if you change your mind, so make sure to have it all planned out before they arrive. This is where your measurements will come in handy if space might be in issue.

I recommend that you request a full kitchen unpack simply because it takes so long to do that yourself. Every single cup and plate is wrapped in a paper and it’s just so much faster to have the movers unpack that for you. Yes, you will lose a few small/light items because they get lost in the packing paper. If this is a concern, you can ask them to leave the boxes and paper behind so that you can double check them in case any small items do disappear. I always liked to put my silverware in large ziplock bags to keep them together.
posted by GliblyKronor at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

So the people who say they pack everything are right - make sure everybody in the house spends a few minutes to gather their keys, any personal electronics and other items they don’t want packed before the movers arrive and make sure these items are in your car or other location that is not going to get packed for the whole time the movers are there.

They may not be willing to take your houseplants or if they do, realise they will be stored in a dark, not climate controlled environment, won’t get watered and may die.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:46 AM on July 20, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks, all! This is very helpful and reassuring (and don't worry, the plants are coming in the car).
posted by dizziest at 8:21 AM on July 22, 2019

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