Top Advice for Moving House

It has been a particularly busy 12 months for Neasa Parker – she has got engaged, she has had a baby – Trudi, now aged 11 months – and she has moved house. Later this year, she and fiancé Peter O'Shaughnessy are getting married.

The move from rented accommodation in Portabello to a purchased house in Dún Laoghaire was completed a fortnight before Parker was due to return to work from maternity leave.

"We really put a push on the solicitors to get all the paperwork and conveyancy completed so we could do the move while I was still on maternity," she says. "That meant I could do the packing myself. I bought my own boxes and bubble-wrap and did it bit by bit. If you are both working and have older children, I think it would make more sense to have a removal firm to do the packing for you."

On the day of the move Parker and O’Shaughnessy hired moving company 2men2vans, who had delivered and assembled Ikea furniture for her in the past.

"They were absolutely brilliant. They charged €100 for the first hour and €75 for every hour after that – their total charge was about €600. That said, our new house had a lot of white goods pre-installed, so we saved on the cost of moving them."

Nuala Culhane took a different approach when she, husband Pearse Ahern and two-year-old son Ted moved from Balgriffin to Drumcondra last year.

"We used one of the big removal companies. We packed our clothes and they packed everything else with me project managing. I have moved three or four times in the past and the packing can be a nightmare. You spend two or more days putting stuff into boxes, only to have to take them out of the boxes one day later," says Culhane.

"The house we had bought needed renovating and there were still builders in it when we moved. So our stuff was put into storage and we stayed with my mum for eight weeks. When we did move in the builders were still on site doing final fixes such as plastering and painting. As a result, we couldn't unpack our stuff in a lot of the rooms for a week and there were boxes everywhere."

Every move is different, says Stuart Carey of Careline, a removal company founded by Carey's great-great-great-grandfather. "We offer a tailor-made approach .There is no one rule for all. However, there are some common mistakes – for example, people often underestimate what they actually have. They forget about the fridge or the couch or the dining table. This is why we would always do a survey – free-of-charge – beforehand."

Graeme Larkin, operations manager at JIT removals, says if people use WhatsApp video on their mobiles, he can usually give them a quotation over the phone. "However, if you are putting stuff into storage, I will need to make an onsite visit as we use specialist wooden crates for that and I will need to check what crates we will need."

Again Larkin repeats the mantra that every move is different, but he reckons: "If you are a family with a couple of kids doing your own packing, it will take three to four days. If you are using professionals it will cost between €1,000 and €2,000, maybe less, maybe more. For example, if you are moving from a fourth floor apartment that will take more time and effort so it will cost you more."

At Allen Removals, MD Eamonn Finn says that most clients use the packing service and about half ask for the firm to unpack for them too. "I would prefer if we do the packing," he says. "That way things are more clear-cut if something gets broken."

Delicate items such as dishes and glassware should be wrapped up well in bubble wrap to make sure they aren’t broken. To make the unpacking easier at the other end, every single box should be labelled - with large, easy–to-read labelling, put on all sides of the box so you can read them easily. Label each box with the room it belongs, then the movers can place them in each room.

There are certain items that the removals companies will not touch – gas canisters and flammable materials such as paints and solvents – for insurance reasons, so you need to dispose of them before you leave your property.

"We have no problems removing junk from one place to another, but it will cost you more," says Carey. "You are better off getting rid of it. We have a disposal service for unwanted items. Unfortunately, in Ireland there isn't a strong second-hand furniture market like there is in other countries."

Preparation is key ahead of a move, so make sure you get rid of all of your unwanted items well before moving day. While she did a lot of de-cluttering, Parker wishes she had done more. "Peter said he would sort his stuff after we moved, as a result we still have his old tennis trophies."

Having professional packers really helped Parker with her de-cluttering: "When a stranger asks you 'Do you really need this?', you are much more likely to be honest and say 'No'".

"That said, we had planned to offload more of our old furniture – my vision was 'new house, nice clean lines', but we ended up taking up more of our old furniture with us and it looks really nice the old mixed in with the new."

Both Parker and Culhane are agreed on the advantages of not trying to do it 'all in one day' and the removals specialists concur.

Very often, people find themselves closing the sale of their property and closing the purchase of their new one on the same day - all while packing up the house. You get the keys on the day the money is transferred and if you have nowhere to stay temporarily – or if you want to do the move in one go – you could find yourself having a very busy day.

Closing of a sale doesn’t always run smoothly. The money needs to be passed from the purchaser of your old house to your solicitors, and also if you have a mortgage provider money needs to be passed from the mortgage provider to the solicitors, and then on to the people from whom you are buying your new house. The person who is buying your property could be doing the very same thing, and the person who is selling you the new house could be too. If this chain is broken at any time, if the money hasn’t gone through by the time the banks have closed, you could find yourself with a van full of furniture and nowhere to send it.

Indeed, with conveyancy prone to sudden delays and cheques needing time to clear, it isn't that rare for a removals van to turn up at a property for which the prospective owner still doesn't have a key.

"It happens often enough," says Carey. "Ten to 20 times a year we would turn up at an address and would be unable to get access because a purchase has been delayed or fallen through. Delays happen, it's something you should plan for."

For Parker and Culhane, not doing everything on the one day helped the move run more smoothly.

"There was still two weeks left on the lease of the rented property when we moved out of it, so that meant I could go back and tie up any lose ends in my own time. It would have been so stressful having to do a big house clean on the rented property on the day of the move," says Parker.

When moving day finally arrives, expect it to be an exhausting and full-on day. If you have young children or pets, you may want to send them off to a relative or friend for the day. Even if the professional movers do the bulk of the lifting, you can expect to fall into your new home exhausted and emotional. Unpack the basics, give yourself a treat and plan most of the unpacking for another day.

A month before the move

  • Start organising packing materials, if doing the packing yourself
  • Book a removals firm, if you are hiring one for the move.
  • Organise your insurance for your new home
  • Do some major decluttering – there is no point in moving rubbish from one home to another

Less than a month before the move

  • Safely dispose of all flammables e.g. paints, gas bottles, cleaning fluids and oils.
  • Clear attic and / or basement
  • Organise redirection of post
  • Book a final meter reading for gas and electricity at your old home, and ensure you will be connected when you arrive at your new home.
  • Keep a wallet of valuable documents – passports, etc. – to be kept separate from packed items.

The day of the move

  • If there are any special instructions needed, give them to the removal company when they arrive.
  • Keep jewellery and other small valuable items separate
  • Confirm what is to be moved and what is not (are you leaving the cooker behind?)
  • When the packing and loading is complete have a final look around to ensure that nothing gets left behind.
  • Sign the inventory listing after you have checked it carefully and are happy with it
  • Ensure that the property is fully locked up and secure

This article was first published in The Sunday Times in partnership with Bank of Ireland. Publication of this article is not seen as an endorsement of the content by Bank of Ireland.