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Moving house guide

When it comes to moving house, the more prepared you are, the better. Our guide will help make sure you know what to expect - hopefully making your move as smooth as possible.

Overview

One month before you move, start gathering packing materials such as boxes, packing tape, scissors, thick marking pen, and bubble wrap. Supermarkets are one source of free boxes, while storage companies usually sell a selection of different sizes.

What should stay - and what should go?

Work around your home and divide everything into 'keep', 'maybe', and 'discard' piles. Further divide the 'discard' pile into charity shop and rubbish tip.

Put important documents, such as passports, insurance contracts, or any papers connected with the move itself into a separate folder. Carry this folder rather than pack it.

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How to pack

Weight

Keep your boxes small and easy to lift. And remember - books and CDs are especially heavy.

Fragile items

Plates and flat china should be wrapped individually in newspaper or, better still, in unprinted newspaper paper (called newsprint).

Crumpled newspaper can be used for cushioning between layers or to fill in gaps.

Always wrap glassware and crystal individually. Mirrors, glass tabletops and paintings should be individually packed in special cartons and can benefit from professional handling, especially if they're heavy.

Leave antiques, fine art, chandeliers and pianos to the experts.

Clothes and textiles

Have draperies and curtains cleaned then packed in their wrappings. Foldable clothing can be left in dressers or put in suitcases, while hanging clothes go in special wardrobe cartons.

Bulky items

Lamps should be packed after shades, bulbs, and harps have been removed.

Audio-visual equipment should ideally be packed in its original boxes, after cables have been disconnected.

Major appliances require servicing, disconnecting and preparation. Refrigerators, for example, need to be defrosted and emptied before transport.

Stay organised

As you pack each box, give each one a letter or number, briefly describe the contents, and note the room it's headed for. You might also want to employ coloured stickers to further identify the destination, plus red stickers for boxes that need to be unpacked first or for boxes containing breakables (but be sure to write 'Fragile' on the sides anyway).

Finally, pack a suitcase with any personal items you might need for the next couple of days, along with a survival box containing things such as

  • coffee, tea, milk and biscuits (don't forget a kettle)
  • screwdrivers
  • Stanley knife
  • light bulbs
  • toilet paper
  • address book
  • bin liners

...and maybe even a radio

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Removal companies

Choose a removal company

A month ahead, start getting estimates from removal companies. Give them an accurate picture of how much needs to be moved and if there are any special requirements, such as furniture that needs to go through a window instead of a door.

Clarify any possible areas of dispute, such as who is going to dismantle beds or un-plumb the washing machine.

The best source of removal companies is personal recommendation, but you can also use the British Association of Removers. As well as an estimate, be sure to get details of the company's insurance arrangements.

Fridays are the busiest days for moving companies so you may be able to get a better price midweek.

Get organised

Find out what time the van will arrive and what the estimated completion time is.

Ensure that you've arranged parking access at both ends and parking permits if needed. Keep a couple of spare unpacked boxes in case any boxes are too heavy. And don't forget to have a map and directions to the new house.

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Last minute

Before anything goes anywhere, make an inspection tour of your furniture with your movers, noting any pre-existing dents and scratches.

You might want to take 'before' photos of any particularly valuable furniture, just in case.

The last thing you should pack up is the kettle, tea, coffee, biscuits, milk, etc. Your movers will thank you.

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