So, you’ve found your dream home, packed up, and are ready to start in a new home! However, you have no idea how you’re going to decide which movers to hire or how much the moving costs will be. They’re all the same right? Not exactly! New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive place to move in. Everyone’s moving costs is different and it all depends on the type of agreement you have. A moving contract is essential to ensure that both your family and the movers are in agreement on what is and is not to be moved, how things will be moved, and what will happen if one of your items is damaged in transit.
Binding and Non-binding Contracts
There are two main types of estimates when determining moving costs, binding and non-binding. Binding estimates guarantee that you cannot be required to pay more than the amount on the estimate. The moving company can negotiate a new binding estimate or converts the binding estimate into a non-binding estimate. Unless the mover does this, the original binding estimate is reaffirmed, and you will pay what you’ve agreed to. However, if there are unforeseen circumstances at the destination, the mover can bill you for these additional expenses up to 30 days after delivery, but it cannot exceed 15% of all other charges. A non-binding estimate is used with the intention of giving you an estimate but that is no guarantee of the final costs. It could be estimated based on weight of shipment, services provided, and the moving company’s published tariff.
Common Moving Terms
Going into this contract should not have you calling up a lawyer just to understand what you’re signing. It’s important to understand common moving terms that may be used in the contract you sign.
- 110 percent rule – This is a rule that was established in 2003 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations. This rule states that states movers can charge only 110% of a non-binding estimate when household goods are delivered. There’s only one way that a moving company can charge more, that is if the total weight of the goods moved exceeds the amount stated in the estimate.
- Assessing moving costs – This term is used in non-binding agreements mostly and refer to the expenses that may or may not be factored into your estimate when determining how much you will pay.
- Additional (or Accessorial) charges – These are charges that will go beyond common services offered by the moving company. These services are as follows: packing up your household items, preparing large items for shipping, and making deliveries to homes that do not allow large vehicle access and thus must park further away to unload. These will all add into your moving costs.
- Advanced charges – This will come up when a third-party must do something to allow movers to access to items in your home. One common example is disconnecting a gas line. This charge will be absorbed by the moving company and added onto your bill of landing.
- Bill of landing – This is commonly referred to as a “receipt”. This is the receipt stating that a moving company has taken possession and will be moving your household items. This is where the contract is as well, and it will define exactly how and where the moving company will be transporting your items. Make sure to hold onto this receipt until the move is complete and you’ve had a chance to look over all your items.
- Carrier’s ability for loss and/or damage – This is the liability the moving company will have depending on the coverage you choose. This insurance will determine how you will be compensated for any lost or destroyed items.
- Claims – When something goes wrong with your move, you must file a claim. Make sure you understand the moving companies claims process so you understand how to file your claim and what it will cover.
Estimating Moving Costs
How do movers estimate moving costs though? As you read above, there are two types of agreements-binding and non-binding. Moving companies use shipment weight to get to your total moving costs. It’s the most important factor in your final price. Another important factor in your moving costs is distance. Depending on how far you would like to move from and to, will be a key factor in your moving costs. There’s also seasonality that will come into play. With people moving more between April to September, expect higher moving costs than in the fall or winter. With all those movers, hourly labor also comes into play. Depending on how much stuff you have and how long it will take these full-service movers to move you from point A to B will also determine your final costs. There are also some common add-on charges which include:
- Temporary/long term storage
- Home theater set up
- Trash removal
- Computer network setup
- Furniture assembly/disassembly
- Hot tub shipping
- Piano transport
- Providing boxes and packing supplies
- Washer/dryer hookup
- Transportation for antiques and other specialty items.