Use checklist for hiring movers

Whether you're moving across town or across the country, finding the right mover to haul everything you own without breaking any of it is a tough job.

Professional mover, Jason Sherman, told Local 2 the first decision to make is to establish how much sweat equity are you willing to put in.

"Some people -- they will go ahead and clear everything out and that is really the way to do it. There's no reason to pay us to come in to move things you're not sure or don't want," said Sherman.

The best way to save money is to move during the week versus the weekend and in the middle of the month versus the very beginning or end when many rental leases change hands. Also, avoiding a summer move can be cheaper since this is the busy season for movers.

Angie Hicks, with the referral service website Angie's List said people need to find out what is covered, and how the insurance works for that particular company. Ask for proof of insurance and read it.

"When hiring a mover, do your research. The interesting thing is a lot of times the insurance is based on the weight of an item and not the cost. So be sure you check that out, before you have them move grandma's china or some big electronic that may not weigh an appropriate amount for the insurance," said Hicks.

In an Angie's List poll, almost half of the people said they had a problem when hiring movers. The biggest complaint they said was property damage.

"All movers have to carry insurance, but the insurance is only 60 cents per pound, per item. So if you're looking at a painting, or a plate, it's not really going to be too much at 60 cents per pound, per item," Sherman said.

Hicks said a little honesty on your part can help avoid what you may feel is dishonesty down the road.

"Let's face it, most of us aren't honest about the contents of our house so it is imperative that you get an in-home estimate and get three estimates. They need to be able to see exactly how much stuff you have in your three bedroom house, so they can get you the best estimate possible," Hicks said.

Ask for the company's U.S. Department of Transportation registration number. In 28 states, including Texas, a certificate number on the state level is required as well.

Moving companies in Texas should have an active TXDMV certificate number on file. You can check that number at the DMV website.

As far as the best bet for the things you care most about, move them yourself. Family photos, birth certificates, passports, even grandma's china never let it out of your control if you would be crushed to lose it.

The state of Texas offers a moving checklist through their "Don't Move Without Us" program.

To check movers' state license numbers with the DMV, visit

More moving tips:

· DIY, hire help, or both? The first thing to decide is how much of the moving work you'll do yourself and how much will be handled by professional movers. Splitting up the work can help you save in moving costs.

· Plan ahead for busy season: Start researching moving companies four to six weeks in advance, especially if you're moving during the peak summer months. Movers tend to charge higher rates during this time. Try to arrange your move for the middle of the month. The first and last days of the month are typically a busy time during the summer.

· Identify high-priority items: You don't want to lose track of items like family photos, birth certificates, passports, etc. Plan on packing these yourself and transporting them so they are never out of your control. Ordinary household items can be replaced if lost or damaged. If your grandma's china is priceless to you, you should carry it.

· Be available: Make sure the mover knows how to contact you. If you cannot be reached at the destination, the mover may place your shipment in storage to avoid delaying other shipments and that could mean additional charges for storage and handling.

Angie's List for hiring a moving company:

· Research your mover: As in all professions, there are scams in the moving industry. Be on the lookout for red flags which can include an unmarked truck, dirty packaging materials, and employees without uniforms. Reputable movers do not require large deposits or payment in advance.

· Check credentials: Ask for the company's U.S. Department of Transportation registration number. Twenty-eight states require both state and U.S. DOT registration.

· Ask for information: Ask for information on the moving crew's status with the company. Are they employed by the company, temporary hires - do they perform background checks on all?

· Got insurance? Ask for proof that your mover is insured against damage and be sure you understand how you would file claims and be compensated should something go wrong. All movers must assume liability for the value of the goods they transport. "Released value" is a no-cost option that provides minimal protection, requiring movers to cover any damages at 60 cents per pound, per article. "Full value" is the most comprehensive option, but cost varies.

· Get at least three estimates: Have the companies come to you for an in-home estimate because most jobs require a physical inspection. Local and intrastate moves are usually priced by the hour, while moves across state lines must be based on the certified weight and distance shipped, plus the amount of special services, such as packing. Be as detailed as possible with the services you need on moving day so the company can provide the right size crew and truck.

· If the cost sounds too good to be true, it probably is: A move cost several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the distance of the move, the number and size of your belongings and an additional services you want. Never hire on price alone, especially if that low bid is significantly lower than your other estimates. Just because a mover's hourly rate is the lowest doesn't mean it's the best choice. The move could take longer, or items may be damaged - leading to a higher overall cost.

· Bigger may mean bigger costs: Some items, like a piano or safe, will cost more to move than couches and chairs. Additional charges may also apply if the movers have to go above and beyond, like getting an antique armoire up a twisting, tight staircase.

· Additional services: Adding services to your move can change costs. For example, the company may charge you for packing supplies, wrapping up big items and assembly/disassembly of furniture. Determine what you want done and get costs for each step.

· Get it in writing: The moving company should provide you a copy of the tariff, which lists items for which you could be charged, such as a "stair fee" or "long carry fee. Read and understand the fine print of your contract. Items such as delivery dates, the mover's responsibility for loss of damage, estimate, payment method, etc. should be in writing. Never sign any paperwork the movers hand you after unloading until you're sure there's nothing missing or damaged.

· Constant contact: If you're moving a great distance, hire a mover who offers an online tracking system so you can virtually watch your belonging as they move across the country. Regardless of the distance involved, get phone numbers and back-up phone numbers in case you need to reach the drivers.

· Got damages? If you notice that a box is damaged at delivery, open it in the mover's presence and have them confirm the condition of the articles in the box. Note any damage on the inventory form. It will be easier to collect on damage if you discover it with the movers still present.

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