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Mar 4th, 2009
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Managing Your Move
Moving, Packing and Utilities
While just the thought of relocating can be stressful, with planning and helpful resources, the process can be managed. In this section, you'll learn about ways to pack, preparing for your move, utilities in the area, a timeline to help you plan for every part of the move as well as additional resources.

As soon as you've received word that you and your family are being relocated, contact your company's relocation representative to find what company will be moving your goods. Ask if the moving company provides any information to help make the move easier and verify the move date. At some point, you'll want a direct contact at the moving company to ensure you have an open communication flow and there are no misunderstandings. Your moving company will also need to ask you questions and be in touch with you directly as moving day approaches.
It's also possible the moving company has resources regarding storage in the city you'll be relocating to, should you require additional space to place your furnishings, a boat or an additional vehicle.
As you plan your move, we hope the following resources and relocation timeline will assist in making your relocation a process that is manageable and organized..

Preparation
As you refer to the timeline on page XX, you can begin to focus on the action items that need attention and when. Having an organized list of priorities will help you stay on schedule and provide a proactive approach. Download the Relocation Timeline at xxxxx.org to customize for your specific situation and define the dates to add to your personal calendar. Involve the entire family, so they're aware of the timeline as well. Counting down the days will help prepare family members as moving day approaches.

Moving Companies
Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It is a good idea to speak with different movers to compare their services. To find out who the best movers are in your area, begin by asking friends about their experiences with the movers they have used. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer organizations in your local area.

When selecting a mover, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)  encourages consumers to select a moving company that is an AMSA member. Members have all agreed to abide by the terms of the organization's published tariffs and to participate in the Arbitration Program sponsored by the organization.

Once you have compiled a list of movers, inform them of the destination and timing of your move. Ask them about the types of services they offer. Also ask them to explain their estimates in detail and to give you a copy. Then carefully compare to see which mover best suits your needs and budget.

In addition to brochures explaining their various services, moving companies should give you a copy of a consumer booklet entitled "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move" and information regarding the mover's participation in a Dispute Settlement Program. Distribution of the consumer booklet and the requirement that movers offer shippers neutral arbitration as a means of settling disputes that may arise concerning loss or damage on household goods shipments are requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

AMSA advises to make arrangements for your move well in advance, at least four to six weeks before the moving date. When you choose your mover, be sure you understand:

*    The rates and charges that will apply.
*    The mover's liability for your belongings.
*    How pickup and delivery will work.
*    What claims protection you have.

Getting Estimates
The cost of an interstate move is usually based on the weight of your belongings and the distance they are shipped, plus the amount of packing and other services that you require, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.

To help you anticipate the cost of your move, movers will give you an estimate of the price. Be sure to get written estimates from at least three different companies so that you can compare their services and prices.

The charge that you will be billed for your move is based on the weight of your shipment, the distance that you move and the other services that you require. Your bill will be higher or lower depending on how much your shipment weighs and how far you move.

Help the movers calculate the cost of your move by showing them every single item to be moved. Don't forget to go into the attic, basement, garage, shed and closets and under beds. Reach a clear understanding about the amount of packing and other services needed. Anything omitted from the estimate but later included in the shipment will add to the cost.

Most movers offer two types of estimates - non-binding and binding.
Non-binding estimates are not bids or contracts. Instead, a non-binding estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover's survey of the items to be moved, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed. Since a non-binding estimate is based on the actual weight of your shipment (rather than the estimated weight), the price will usually be lower than a binding estimate. However, when you receive a non-binding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost will not be more than the estimate.

Under a non-binding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the estimate, plus 10 percent, (or 110 percent of the estimate amount) at the time of delivery. You are then obligated to pay any remaining charges for any additional services that you requested or that were required to accomplish your move that are more than this 110 percent amount 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if the services or quantities were not included in your estimate.

Many movers also provide binding estimates. A binding estimate means that you are obligated to pay the price set forth in the binding estimate even if the shipment weighs more than or less than the estimated amount.

All binding estimates cover only the goods and services listed on the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may revise the original estimate before your shipment is loaded or, if you request additional services after your shipment is in transit, your mover will bill you for these added services 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if they were not included in your estimate. In addition, all movers reserve the right to charge for services necessary to accomplish delivery, even if those services are not requested by the shipper. For example, additional charges will apply if you are not prepared to accept delivery and the shipment is placed in storage, or if a smaller (shuttle) truck must be used to accomplish delivery because your new home is located on a narrow street. Again, your mover will bill you for these services 30 days after your shipment is delivered, if they were not included in your estimate.

Another type of estimate used by many movers is the Not-To-Exceed Estimate. This type of estimate is called various things by various movers, such as Guaranteed Price or Price Protection, but the end result is the same - an estimate based on a binding estimate or on actual cost, whichever is lower. Like a binding estimate, a not-to-exceed estimate must be provided to you in writing and is binding on the carrier.

Not-to-Exceed estimates differ though in that the binding estimate amount becomes the maximum amount that you will be obligated to pay for the services listed on the estimate. This maximum amount alternates with the tariff charges applicable based on the actual weight of the shipment, with the customer paying the lesser of the two amounts. When you accept a not-to-exceed estimate, the move is performed at actual weight based on the tariff rate levels, with the binding estimate representing the maximum charge that you will have to pay.

The American Moving and Storage Association advises to get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers. If a mover you are considering tells you that he can move you for an unrealistically low price, be careful. It could mean he will suddenly remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked, and he is ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions.

Or, if a mover you are considering refuses to provide you with an in-home estimate and tells you he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture, choose another mover.

And remember, it's not just the price; it's the total value of a professional move.

TIP: When you are discussing your estimate with your mover, be sure to ask about the arrangements for paying for the move. It is customary for movers to require that charges be paid in cash, by certified check or by money order. Most movers will not accept personal checks. Some movers will accept payment by credit card. However, do not assume that because you have a nationally recognized charge or credit card that it will be accepted for payment. Ask your mover before your move. 


Planning for Moving Day
According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the summer months are the busiest time of the year for movers. In addition, the beginning and end of each month are traditionally busier than mid-month, regardless of the season. If you are planning to move during one of the times, plan well in advance so your mover's schedule will fit yours.

Get started by contacting the movers on your list. Inform them of your destination and the timing of your move. Ask movers to provide you with a written estimate and have them explain the services listed in the estimate in detail. Carefully compare each estimate to see which company best suits your needs and budget.

Packing
Proper packing by a trained packer using specially designed cartons and materials is crucial to a good move. Schedule packing with the mover a day or two before the moving van is loaded. If you are packing yourself, it is never too soon to start. While packing yourself can save money, movers will not usually accept liability for damage to items packed by owners.

Be present when your goods are packed. An inventory of your goods will be made, and it is important to resolve any disagreements prior to signing the inventory. Make sure all copies are legible and all items are numbered. Have valuable items listed separately. Some appliances may require servicing prior to the move. Your mover can schedule these services for you.

There are several options for insuring your goods. All household goods shipments move under limited liability. However, you may purchase additional liability coverage from your mover.

Your mover may ask you to select several consecutive days during which your goods can be loaded and a second series of dates during which your goods can be delivered to your new home. A spread of days gives you and your mover the flexibility needed to keep your move on schedule. Remember that summer months are the busiest, and some movers offer lower prices between the months of October and April.

Moving Day
*    Be on hand when the movers arrive
*    Discuss the delivery arrangements fully with your mover.
*    Have beds stripped and ready to be packed.
*    Save your energy - let the moving crew disassemble goods.
*    Read the Bill of Lading before you sign it.
*    Tell your mover how to reach you at your destination.
*    Keep in contact with the mover's agent at your destination while you are in transit.

Delivery
Generally, your belongings will be transported in a van along with those of other families in the same general direction. This helps to keep your costs down. Delivery is made on any of the several consecutive days agreed upon before the move began. Make sure the mover knows how to contact you to schedule actual delivery. If you cannot be reached at destination, the mover may place your shipment in storage to avoid delaying other shipments. This can mean additional charges for storage and handling.

TIP: Upon delivery, check your goods for damage. Do not sign the inventory until you have inspected your furniture and the exterior of the cartons.

Claims
Best practices from the American Moving and Storage Association suggest that if any of your household goods are damaged or lost, report the facts promptly and in detail on the van driver's copy (original) of the inventory sheet before you sign it. If you notice damage after unpacking, a claim must be filed within nine months after delivery. However, it is to your advantage to report damage as soon as possible. The mover must acknowledge receipt of your claim within 30 days and must deny or make an offer within 120 days of receipt of your claim.

When making a claim or considering a settlement offer, keep in mind the amount of liability that you declared on your shipment. For example, if the value declared on your shipment was $5,000, the mover's maximum liability for loss or damage to the articles in your shipment is $5,000. Claims for more than this amount will be declined because they are in excess of the mover's liability that you declared on your shipment.

User Guide For An Easier Move Day from the American Moving and Storage Association:
*    Be available on all loading days. Movers will have questions.
*    Accompany the driver as he prepares your inventory. Ask questions if you
are unsure of the condition that the driver is noting.
*    Carefully read and complete the Bill of Lading. This is the legal contract
between you and the mover, treat it accordingly.
*    Make sure you have copies of the Bill of Lading and Inventories before the
driver leaves.
*    Before the driver leaves, do a final walk through the house checking all
closets and storage areas to make sure nothing was missed.
*    Provide the driver with contact information in case he needs to reach you
during the course of the move.
*    Ask for the driver's truck number, agency and contact information. This
will make it easier to reach the driver if you have questions or if your plans change.
*    Make sure the driver has the correct address of your new home or storage
facility.
*    Provide the movers and helpers with a clean water supply (either
individual bottles or cups) and restroom facilities.
*    The items that will be traveling with you, clothes, papers, etc. should be put in one place (a bathroom that has been previously packed) or in the vehicle that you will be taking with you. This will help prevent them being loaded on the truck and having to find them later.
*    Valuables (cash, coin, jewelry, photographs, papers) should be taken with
you or sent ahead by a tracking service such as UPS or FedEx.
*    When possible, arrange for the house closing to a day or two following
loading. This will help reduce the stress of having to be available for the
movers and having to concentrate on closing at the same time.
*    Get a good night's sleep and have a good breakfast the morning of the
move.
*    No matter how prepared you are, things occasionally go wrong, Fido will
decide to chase the neighbor's cat, Jr. will decide that he has to have the toy in the bottom box of a stack, it will seem that everyone you know has to drop by for one last chat, try to relax this is a normal part of moving.

User Guide For an Easier Delivery Day
*    Be available on the delivery days. Movers will have questions.
*    Have estimated moving funds available in either cash, certified check or money order - you will have to pay the movers before they will begin unloading furniture. If you are paying by credit card, you will need to make those arrangement prior to loading day.
*    Check carefully for damaged or missing items at the time of delivery and be sure to make note of these on the inventory before the movers leave. Supervise the unloading and unpacking
*    Complete your unpacking as quickly as possible.
*    When possible make arrangements for the closing on the new house be a day or two before the first day of the delivery spread.

Source: American Moving and Storage Association (moving.org)

Moving Expenses
Tax deductions might apply to a move, but it is best to understand the law before moving in order to keep the appropriate records and to comply with any necessary provisions.
Keep in mind that a move must be at least 50 miles from a current home and involve changing job locations in order for expenses to be deductible.

Deductible Moving Expenses
You can deduct the reasonable expenses of moving your household goods and personal effects and of traveling from your old home to your new home. Reasonable expenses can include the cost of lodging (but not meals) while traveling to your new home.

Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses
If you move to a new home because of a new principal workplace, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses whether you are self-employed or an employee. To be eligible, you must meet both the distance test and time test.

Movers may call the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040 or visit irs.gov to request a free booklet explaining exactly what can and cannot be deducted.
Source: IRS

Temporary Storage
Temporary storage in the U.S. is a relatively inexpensive luxury. Self- and warehouse-storage space is available in all sections of the city. Check on security arrangements at specific storage units, liability for loss or damage and availability of units.

Selecting a Self-Storage Space
It's important to remember to carefully read the contract you are asked to sign before selecting a storage provider. If there are provisions that you don't understand, ask the manager to explain them. If you still don't understand or don't feel comfortable with the explanation, don't sign the rental agreement, which is a legal contract. Make sure there are no blank spaces and that any verbal promises made by the manager or staff are in the written rental agreement.

*    Visit the self-storage facility and ask to see a space of the size you think you may need. If climate-controlled space is available, compare the climate-controlled space to the non-climate-controlled space.
*    Check for cleanliness, convenience and security.
*    Ask about the office's operating hours.
*    Keep a copy of the written rental agreement.
*    Obtain and read a copy of the rules and regulations of the facility, if any.
*    Insurance is the responsibility of the customer, and storage facilities are generally not responsible for the contents of your unit. It is always a good idea to insure the goods you are intending to store, and it should be offered to you at the time you rent your unit. Sometimes the facility collects the premium from you directly. Before you buy insurance from the manager, check with your own agent, because sometimes your homeowner's or renter's policy will cover you at no extra cost.

Important Guidelines
*    Ask the self-storage company if they are a member of any storage associations; it ensures the company is operating professionally.
*    Use the best lock possible to protect your valuables.
*    Purchase insurance on your property, either through the facility or with your own agent. Remember that the storage operator does not insure your goods.
*    Prepare to give at least 10 days written notice before you plan to move out of your unit. This is required by the contract you sign.
*    Don't store prohibited items such as tires, food, or flammable items. Check the storage facility's rules or your contract for a complete list.
*    Your property could be sold at a public auction if you stop paying rent on your unit.

General Storage Information
*    Do not store hazardous or toxic materials OR flammable liquids or gases OR foods. If you are not sure you should store something, ask the staff!
*    Do not store any combustibles! Do not store items such as propane tanks, old paint, cleaning fluids, gasoline or other things that might create or intensify a fire. Why risk your possessions just to keep a few cents worth of leftovers?
*    Remember, you alone are responsible for providing insurance on your property. You must buy insurance coverage yourself and you must pay the premium yourself; the operator does not insure your goods.
*    Remember that only the tenant is legally entitled to enter the storage space unless other arrangements have been made with the self-storage facility; for example, if you want friends and members of your family to use your storage space, you must list them under access rights on the rental agreement.
*    Visit your self-storage space on occasion to check the condition of your possessions; occasionally move or shift your goods so that you see all sides of them. Report any problems immediately.
*    When moving out of storage, give at least 10 days written notice. Take everything and don't leave any trash. Leave the unit in broom-clean condition. Remove your lock.
*    If storing bedding, clothing or furniture covered in fabric or property that may be affected by changes in temperature, it may be wiser to rent climate-controlled space to provide a better storage environment for your personal possessions. Be certain that everything stored is dry, as any moisture may cause mildew. If you move during rain, dry off your goods before placing them into storage. Do not store anything that is wet; moisture is bad for virtually all property or goods.

Self-Storage Packing Tips
*    Fill boxes to capacity. Partially full or bulging boxes may collapse or tip over while stored.
*    Label your cartons and goods. This will make accessing items much easier.
*    Books and documents: Pack books flat to protect spines; use small boxes to avoid cartons that are too heavy to move easily. Put heavy items on bottom.
*    Dishes and glassware: Glass items should be individually wrapped; use blank wrapping paper for best results; "nest" cups and bowls, stand plates and platters; fill air pockets with wrapping paper or foam peanuts; don't put breakables under other boxes.
*    Mirrors, windows, screens: Wrap all glass well; store on edge, not flat.
*    Lamps: Pack lamp shades separately; use blank paper to wrap lamp shades and other property that may be damaged by ink stains from regular newsprint.
*    Furniture: Stand sofas and mattresses on end; disassemble beds and tables; wrap legs in wrapping paper; keep upholstery off floor; place loose, light plastic dust covers or sheets over furniture.
*    Appliances and electronics: Clean appliances thoroughly. Refrigerators and freezers must be defrosted and dry and washing machines completely drained. Remove doors of appliances and store separately; desiccants (drying agents) should be used and containers checked and emptied regularly. Take apart lawn mowers and snow blowers, making sure all the fuel is completely drained.
*    Bicycles: Wipe a few drops of oil on bicycles and tools to prevent rusting, then store these items away from furniture to avoid oil staining.
*    Clothes: Wardrobe boxes allow you to store your clothing on hangers. Shoes can be stored in the bottom of the wardrobe boxes, while folded clothing can be stored in boxes or dresser drawers.
*    Put pallets or a grid of 2' x 3's on the unit floor to give better air circulation under goods; leave a walkway/aisle to the rear of the unit. Don't over pack the unit!


Determining the Right Storage Unit for Your Needs
Unit Size: 5' x 5'   
Equivalent: 25 sq. ft. Hall closet, small bedroom or office
What Will Fit*: Boxes, clothing, small furniture, toys, business records or about 50 file boxes. 

Unit Size: 5' x 10'   
Equivalent: 50 sq. ft. Walk-in closet 
What Will Fit*: Mattress set, sofa, chest of drawers, dining room set or about 100 file boxes.

Unit Size: 7
Relocation Resources | 5120 Woodway Drive, Suite 6022 | Houston, Texas 77056 | ph: (713) 586-6939 | fax: (713) 586-6947
Copyright © 2012 Relocation Resources, LLC All rights reserved.
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