With a little planning, the right materials and the help of some strong volunteers, packing up and moving your household is doable. Here are a few tips to make a DIY move go smoothly.
How much truck do you need? Generally, the furniture filling a three-bedroom house with one living area and one dining area will need a twenty-two foot truck or larger. To figure the size with precision, Penske has a handy calculator. Larger rentable trucks will have a pull-out ramp for carrying things into the truck. Even better is a hydraulic tailgate lift for handling big pieces.
Materials you will need. Several weeks in advance of your move, start packing your belongings in cardboard boxes. Boxes in different sizes can be purchased from moving companies, truck rental stores and large hardware stores. But with any luck, you should be able to find boxes curbside or by asking for them on Craigslist or online buy-sell-trade sites. Many folks offer boxes for free after a move. You’ll also need packing tape, and newspapers or other cushioning materials to help with packing.
The day of the move you’ll need thick furniture blankets and dollies, which can be rented along with your truck. Also on moving day, don’t forget screwdrivers and wrenches for disassembling furniture, sealable bags to hold loose hardware and straps to firmly anchor appliances and large furniture pieces to the interior sides of the truck. Ratcheting straps with hooked ends, which cost about $25, are the best for securing loads with exactly the right amount of tension.
Loading up. Consider transporting fragile items such as flat-screen televisions, china, aquariums, lamps, artwork and sculptures in the cab of the truck or in your personal vehicle. Remove light bulbs from lamps and transport them separately.
First, load the big items such as appliances, sofas, armoires, mattresses and box springs. Use the slates on the interior sides of the truck to secure these pieces with straps so they don’t shift while in transit. Before loading dressers, remove drawers. Replace drawers during transit, then remove them again when you reach your destination. Tape shut doors and drawers. Next, wrap all large items in heavy moving blankets.
With furniture and appliances properly wrapped, you can stack smaller, lighter items on top. Fill in the center of the truck with boxes stacked as efficiently as possible, heaviest on bottom working toward the rear of the truck. Add lighter, smaller boxes, small furniture and accessories to the middle and back. Utilize every crevice and fill to the ceiling.
Do the math. Renting a truck for a DIY move seems cheaper than paying professionals, but there are several other considerations. Figure the fuel usage as well as any per-mileage charges over certain maximums. Count the cost of your time and the physical exhaustion of moving. Also consider insurance liability, if something should break. Finally, consider the complexity of a move, such as moving heavy furniture up or down flights of stairs. Can you and your helpers handle the job?
Reward your helpers. Keep a cooler of soft drinks and water available on moving day and don’t forget to feed your friends when the work is done. It’s also nice to return the favor, helping your friends when it’s their turn to move.