I’ve had lots of positive feedback to The Ultimate PCS Guide to Packing Out, and a request for a similar piece talking about household goods delivery. Thankfully, this one won’t be quite as long!
Generally speaking, a regular delivery of household goods will take less than a single day. A little preparation before the delivery arrives will help make the process smoother and make your final unpacking easier. The hardest part is figuring out what you want the movers to do, and what you’d rather do yourself. Every person has individual opinions about that, and there is no right answer.
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Things that are included in the mover’s contract include assembling any furniture that has been disassembled, unpacking everything, and removing all boxes and packing materials. Most families do not want all that service, but some do. Unfortunately, the best way to figure out what is best for you is trial and error.
Table of Contents with Quick Links
Supplies To Have
- Camera or Cell Phone
- Clipboard or Table
- Pens, highlighters, and sharpies
- Painter’s Tape
- Box Cutter
- Damp cloths for cleaning dusty stuff
- “Bingo Sheets” for recording items as they come off the truck
Before The Movers Arrive
If possible, send pets and small children to another location for the day. At some locations, the base Child Development Center (CDC) will permit drop-ins in conjunction with PCS moves.
Put up a sign identifying what you’ll be calling each room. If you used a labeling system when you packed out, put the identifying sticker, tape, or color on the sign for the room. Use painter’s tape so you don’t damage the walls.
Figure out where you want the larger furniture in each room. Mark it on the floor with painter’s tape, leaving room so the item will fit inside the tape so you can remove it when you are done. Put a sign on the wall explaining which item will go in that space.
Designate a space in each room where you want all the boxes piled. Mark the floor with painter’s tape and put a sign on the wall.
Purchase drinks for the movers, if you want to provide them. If you plan to offer food, either purchase or plan for its purchase during the day.
If you plan to tip, go to the bank and get the cash.
Lock your purse and other valuables in your car, and keep the keys in your pocket.
Wipe down cupboards, closets, and drawers. Lay shelf paper if desired.
Track down the contact information for the appropriate personal property office at your new location. Call them and verify who you should call if you have a problem with your delivery. Program the telephone number into your phone.
Set up a “desk” with your pens, inventory, etc. If you don’t have anything to use, grab one of the first big boxes off the truck, and the first chair that comes off.
Don’t forget to call your insurance company to update your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. Don’t have renter’s insurance? It’s a must! For about the price of a pizza per month, you can help protect your stuff with renters insurance.
Directions To Give The Movers
Obviously, these directions don’t apply to every situation. Pick and choose the directions that you want followed:
- Show them the signs identifying each room.
- Show them where you want certain furniture, and where you want the boxes put in each room.
- Ask the movers not to put any boxes into closets, unless you specifically want things put there.
- Ask them not to block closets, cabinets or drawers with boxes.
- If you’re short or otherwise have a preference, ask the packers not to stack boxes beyond a certain number of boxes high.
- Give them a heads up if you are going to want items reassembled.
- Warn the movers if you have any time limitations, such as the need to pick up a child from the bus stop or that you have to be finished by a certain time.
As They Are Unloading
As each item is taken off the truck, the movers will call out the number on the sticker and what the label says. Tick off the number on your bingo sheet. If an item has no number, make a note of the item and any identifying markings. If an item looks damaged at all, stop the unloading while you make notes or have the damaged items put together in one pile. (If you have a second person, they can be responsible for dealing with damaged stuff while the unloading continues.)
Tell the mover where you want the item to be put. Larger items should be placed on your pre-marked spots, smaller items can be placed in the designated “stacking” corners of the room.
Once The Truck Is Unloaded
Most experienced movers want the movers to reassemble any furniture that was disassembled for moving, particularly beds.
If you want items unpacked, have the packers unpack in an organized fashion. You are in charge – if you want all three packers to be unpacking kitchenware, then tell them that is what you want.
Because the company is contracted for a full unpack, you can actually ask them to come back a second day, if necessary. Most people aren’t interested in that, but it is an option.
At The End
Sit down with the team leader (usually the driver) and review all the forms. Note all the missing items and damaged items on the paperwork. Be really specific with your descriptions of damage and missing items – it is ALWAYS better to include more information. Sign the paperwork. The mover will keep a copy and you will get a copy.
A Few Different Strategies
Depending on your moving style, there are a few different strategies that make make things easier for you.
Nichole from Budget Loving Military Wife has all the non-essential boxes put into an extra room, such as a guest bedroom, so she can focus on unpacking the essentials without having to deal with boxes everywhere.
I’ve always had the philosophy that I wanted to unpack everything myself, so I could only open one box at a time and so that everything got put in the right place the first time. I’ve discovered that I am in the minority. Most of my friends have the movers unpack their kitchen items and leave them on the counters and table, and many have the movers empty wardrobe boxes into closets.
Dealing With Damage
Take pictures of everything that is noted as damaged, preferably with a mover in the picture. This can help in case there are questions about the damage and when it occurred.
If the movers offer to take your damaged items away with them, do not let them. You are required to hold on to damaged items until your claim is finished. In some cases, the moving company will take the damaged items in exchange for the completed claim.
More complete information can be found in the TRANSCOM It’s Your Move booklet.
Getting Rid of Boxes
Once you’ve unpacked, you’ll likely have a ton of packing material left over. Options for disposing of it include:
- advertising it for free on Craigslist, freecycle, or your local area’s Facebook group,
- taking it to the base or town recycling center, or
- contacting your waste management company to see if they will pick it up with your regular pickup.
Giving your boxes to be reused is the most environmentally-friendly choice, and you’ll be doing a good deed for the person who needs the boxes. Be sure not to advertise your home address in the ad – you can share that once you have selected a recipient or meet at a neutral location.
Unpacking can be hard work, but the pleasures of enjoying your new home are worth the effort. Keep plugging along and eventually you’ll get (almost) everything exactly where you want it!
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