MOVING, OUT AND IN
This is it - the truck is here, and you're at
your new home! If the truck doesn't belong to you (and time with it is
money), you're under the gun to get it unloaded as quickly as possible.
Let's hope it's not raining - and let's get busy...
General tips for
- If you're not there: Is it
already done? Too late to worry! - go on to Unpacking...
If you arrive during the process, better ask the movers to take a
break while you assess the situation. There may be some things you
need them to re-place inside the house, and the sooner that happens, the
- If you're around: Choose the best
access point for the new house and get the truck backed up close to
it. Make sure the pathway won't be slippery.
- Get up and running: You will have
turned the electricity on first thing in the new house, naturally...
Turn the hot water heater on right away! And put toilet paper in the
bathroom and towels at the sinks. Also, make certain your children and
animals can't escape into the street during the chaos of the unloading
- What if it's raining?: In this
case, your choice of entry point may be influenced by how much overhang
there is. Hope you brought a nice big tarp with you, or a rug you
don't care that much about... You'll need to protect your entrance
flooring from slippery wetness, wear and tear, and muddy feet. (I'm
talking about a canvas tarp - something somewhat absorbent - not
those woven plastic things.) And, break out the extra towels, because
you'll need to wipe things off regularly - furniture and people
especially. You also might want to rig a way to protect cardboard
boxes from the bulk of the moisture - like covering the top of each stack,
as it comes between truck and house, with a small tarp or a large
towel. (The movers aren't going to care about getting your boxes wet,
but some contents can be damaged by moisture that works it's way inside.)
- Note any damaged or missing items: If you've paid
for professional help, take careful note of any damage to your
belongings. If you have your camera handy, take photos of it.
Point it out to the movers. Keep a written record of it. And ask
the movers for an indemnity form you can fill out while they're still there
- so they can be made to sign it.
It might be that the only way you'll know that something is missing
is if you had an inventory list. Checking things off on the list as
they go into the truck, and then as they come out, lends credence to your
claim that something has "disappeared".
By the way, always pay movers with
a credit card if possible. That way you can stop payment if they refuse to
debit damages from your bill.
- Get ready for the
unpacking before you begin:
Right away is the time to choose a place to gather up the packing materials
as they're freed up. See Getting rid of the
detritus for tips...
- Be wise about your physical condition:
You have to do what you have to do... But it's very easy to forget, in
the stress of the moment, to take care of yourself - so stop to "check
in" with yourself often. Are you drinking enough water? Do
you need a snack? Are you putting too much strain on your back?
Moving out has already taken a toll, so it's doubly important to
watch yourself (and others) now so you continue to have the strength to
follow through with your plans for your new situation. (Take some
Good things to have on hand:
- Various tools: Box cutters -
because you'll definitely need to unpack at least the first-day things; you
may well need to or want to start unpacking some other things right
away, too; and you'll want to break down boxes as you go, to save
space. Basic tools... Because the knots you tied in strapping
things down may not want to come undone. It's also possible that not
everything will be in working order in your new house. Or you may have
to take a door off it's hinges to get a big piece of furniture into a
room. And if you took furniture apart for the move, you may want to
put it back together right away.
- Food and drink, and things to go it with:
Everybody will need fresh water to drink (did you taste the water at your
new abode?)... so they'll also need something to drink out of. Perhaps
a supply of disposable dishware would come in handy the first day or
so. You'll also need food so no one will starve - actually, so you can
keep your energy up for the work you still have to do. (Hope you got
the number of the local pizza delivery service!)
- Ramp and dolly(ies): As with
loading, a wide ramp is a big asset in unloading. If you have more
than one person carrying stuff inside, I hope you can have more than one
dolly going - it will save a lot of time and personal effort.
- Miscellaneous: The broom again -
sweep the truck periodically of grit carried on from shoes. A first
aid kit (let's hope you won't need it - but if you do, where is it?!).
A camera - to record damage to your belongings, if you've hired movers; to
record unexpected problems with the new house, if you might be able to have
them repaired by the seller or landlord; and to record the momentous day!
Tips on unloading a
- Be rested up for it: If it's
at all conceivable, attack unloading day with a good store of energy.
(I've even gotten to the new house the day before the movers so as to
sleep there overnight.) Even if others are doing the actual unloading,
you'll have lots to do (running from room to room): directing traffic,
resolving surprise dilemmas, restacking hastily stacked boxes, shifting
furniture, etc. (not to mention any kid/pet supervision). And eat a
good breakfast, for heaven's sake!
- Use the wheel chocks again: Don't
rock and roll without them.
- Careful with the door!: Don't
just open the door to the truck wide... Even with careful tying, the
load may have shifted to the rear and some things on top may have jiggled
toward the back - things might even be leaning against the door, ready to
fall. At least two people should be there to open the door so that
there are arms ready to catch and push any "escapees".
- Where to begin: Obviously, you're
going to begin at the rear of the truck, and at the top of any stack.
But as things may be interlocked together to some extent (especially if some
things have settled downward and shifted about), you'll need to be careful
in how you go about extricating the various items. Be on the lookout
for entanglements, and be prepared for a possible avalanche of cascading
belongings. Forewarned is forearmed (you'll wish you had four
arms at times!).
- Assign a director: If you can
spare someone to "babysit" the truck and its emerging contents,
there's plenty that person can do to ensure that things go smoothly...
Look out for problem areas in the truck as above. Read the box labels
and match up items with the rooms they go in, and which spots in those rooms
(it's all there on your house plan, right?) - thereby directing the
unloaders so they don't have to stop and consider so much. Prevent the
movers from torquing furniture on its fragile legs. And make sure
everyone is taking on food and water as needed.
- Assign a distributor: It's also a
time-saver to have someone who stays in the truck and hands out stuff
to those who carry it inside. If you all keep getting up into the
truck to grab things, you'll have traffic jams and you'll wear
yourselves out unnecessarily. The person inside should ideally try to
arrange it so that each dolly load is of like items (going to the same
place) - this saves another round of handling inside the house. He
should also have a good strong back!
- When it's empty: Sweep the truck
out one last time. Make sure you've rounded up all the rented/borrowed
items to be returned with the truck: straps, pads, dolly, ramp,
- Get it placed early on: You can
stack boxes on top of most furniture if need be, but you can't stack most
furniture on top of boxes... So concentrate on getting your big pieces
of furniture into place in your house as soon as possible. (Corners
are generally good places to stack boxes, and the two walls will ensure that
the stacks can be taller without toppling.)
- Don't check it over too soon: If
you can be reimbursed for damages, give each piece of furniture the
once-over after it's placed inside. It's possible to harm
something at the very last minute as it's set down, or anywhere else along
the line. (Checking it over really should include unwrapping it from
any protective covering - otherwise how would you know it hadn't come off,
been harmed, and been re-wrapped?)
- Lighting: Be on the lookout for
the lamps if your new home doesn't have plentiful ceiling fixtures, because
you'll need the light!
- Places for your comfort: You'll
also need places to sit down - and possibly a table to sit at and write on
(and eat from). And, of course, you'll need a place to lie down
to rest and sleep. (Ask the movers to assemble your beds for
you. If you wait to do it yourself, you'll likely be very sorry... and
- Rugs: If you have really big rugs
that heavy furniture needs to go on top of, it's probably best to spread
them out as soon as possible - unless you have to worry about dirty feet
tramping all over them. At least get the brawny help to move heavy
rugs into the right room or vicinity. You can save the smaller rugs
- Foodstuffs: You'll have to deal
with any perishables right away, of course. But the non-perishables
can wait - a long time, if necessary (you can always buy new packaged food
for awhile and get to those boxes later on). Just keep them out of
excessive heat and cold.
- What needs to be stored where?:
Other things also need to be kept away from heat and cold, like record
albums and tapes, candles, and probably photo albums. And it's
extremely important not to store books, photos, prints, computer paper,
linens, fabric, etc. anywhere moist or leak-prone.
- Draperies: Hanging draperies
ought to be a fairly high priority so that wrinkles don't set in them.
(Use a steamer to smooth them out after they're hung.)
- Large appliances: Remember that
you aren't supposed to plug in a refrigerator or freezer right away after
tipping it (and though it should stand upright in the truck, it probably
will have to be tipped on the dolly to and from) - wait overnight.
Some movers will help you install the washer and dryer after they're
placed. You'll probably want them sooner than you think...