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moving home

When evaluating the packing / unpacking option offered by removal companies, consider the time it would take you to pack the items in the safest way, and the money you will save on packaging material. 

DIY removals can save you hundreds of pounds, but using a ‘man and van’ to move all your own belongings can be a daunting prospect.... 

Small firms or ‘man & van’ very often don't directly employ their staff and simply hire in casual labour when they need. If the crew aren't professionals then your possessions may not be treated with respect and packed well for the journey. If the crew aren't full time, once they've done the job and they move on, there's no comeback. 

In a perfect world, a verbal agreement and shake of hands would be nice, but when it comes to your worldly possessions and valuable items, not having a contract leaves you open and unprotected. Too often we've heard of people arranging a cheap deal with a "bloke who seemed friendly" who "has a mate with a van" who then doesn't turn up on the day or turns up with a transit van and his mate and wants an extra £400 cash to do the job or he'll drive off - jeopardising an entire chain of home movers. At a minimum, you should get a signed agreement which sets out the service that will be provided in clear English with clear contact details of who you're dealing with.

Is a DIY removal the right choice for you?

The answer to this depends on many factors. Weigh up financial costs versus the cost of your time and energy. Moving house is stressful at the best of times so do you really want the additional physical strain of moving your own belongings? Think about the distance you’re moving. If you’re moving a few streets away rather than across the country, a DIY removal might work for you. Do you have a lot of heavy pieces of furniture or fragile items? If the answer’s yes, you might want to leave the work to the removal experts. If you’re relying on friends to help, remember they may not be quite as careful with your possessions as a professional removal person.

The legalities

If you’re hiring a man with a van, make sure that the van is fully licensed and fully insured. 

If you are planning to use a removal firm that is not a member of The British Association of Removers means you will not be benefit from the BAR protection and will have no route of redress or complaint other than the civil courts or local trading standards offices. 

Self-packed items may not be covered by insurance companies so be aware of the risk.

Help yourself by packing sensibly

The last thing you want to do when moving home is cause yourself an injury. And the quickest way to damage your back is by lifting something that’s heavy. It’s better to pack heavy items, such as books, in several small boxes rather than one large one. Save the big boxes for your lighter belongings. And remember to lift using your knees, rather than your back, or simply let the professionals take care of it.