Renting a Truck? Read this First.

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It’s moving time and you decide to do it yourself: rent a truck, get some friends, done in a few hours, piece of cake right? Moving at the entry-level is straight forward: pack boxes and load furniture. And this is how you’ll be selling it to friends the week before, but remember the devil is in the details. There are a sizable number of things to go sideways on your move, though people rarely foresee them.

1- The first consideration is the full cost of the truck. Remember to include insurance, fuel, mileage and late fees (your move is going to take longer than you expect) in the arithmetic. Another consideration; some Vancouver truck rental companies will sell you insurance but neglect to tell you it covers the truck, but not the box on the back. Scratch it, scrape it or dent it and you’ll be paying for the damage out-of-pocket. Be sure to ask what the insurance covers.

2- Beware of damaging your building during the move. Many building managers in Vancouver are fastidious about their hallways, stairwells and elevators. Some take photos of the walls, before the move, to document existing marks and show new damage more readily. But there is more. A significant number of buildings in Vancouver have relatively low ceiling height in the hallways and hence the sprinkler heads are low too. During the course of your move you will have to shift something big, like a sofa, and generally sofas’ need to be stood on end. You get the picture, tall sofa and low hallway; proceed with care.

3- There are many ways to injure yourself during the course of a self move. Here are a few; (a) Your boxes will be over packed and you may not have the proper moving equipment. (b) You will have to move your sofa and bed. Each of these presents a unique challenge; the sofa may need to be tipped on end and manipulated in a few different positions, or have to go down a flight of stairs. The mattress has its own challenges because of its awkward shape and weight. (c) When you are carrying an item, you generally cannot see your feet nor the path, walk with care and try to make sure the path is clear.

4- Lack of proper moving equipment. If you chose to move yourself you may lack trolleys, floor covers, pads, shrink-wrap, straps and more. One example: Ikea makes a particular type of fastening system on one of their beds. If you do not have the correct tool you will be fiddling with the disassembly for a while. Another is the use of shrink-wrap to secure the dresser drawers in place during transport. If you don’t have it, the move gets messy fast. And speaking of messy, do you have the mattress bags to protect your bed?

5- Damage to your possessions during the move. Your goods need to be properly prepped with pads, boxes or shrink-wrap before the move, and once on the truck they must be secured to prevent shifting.

Most people decide to move themselves without giving full consideration to the details outlined above. Do your arithmetic and understand the pitfalls. Then, create a list of items to be moved and some information about the access (i.e., three-story walk up  to 5th floor elevator). Choose a few moving companies and ask for the rate, availability and a general idea of how long your move will take. This will help you make a more balanced comparison between the price and the value of a self move vs. a professional move.