Selling a house can be stressful, and planning the logistics of moving day is often one of the most time-consuming and frustrating experiences of the whole process. According to a Which? survey, 70% of those polled said that selling a house was the most stressful life event, second only to getting divorced (78%). But does it have to be?
Finding a reputable and reliable removals company is one of the best ways to make sure that things run smoothly on the day of completion (when the seller must vacate their property).
Whether you’re moving one street away, to another county or even abroad, there will be a removals company to cater to your needs. Some will even pack up your belongings at one end and put everything away for you at the other end!
What Type of Removal Services Do You Need?
The “best” removals company for one person may not represent the best choice for another. Consider the following questions when choosing a removals company:
- How much stuff do you have? Many companies charge based on the size of your property, so transporting belongings from a one-bedroom flat will cost less than moving from a five-bedroomed house. Some smaller businesses may not have vehicles large enough to move a large volume of furniture in one go, and multiple trips will inflate the cost.
- Where are you moving from and to? Many companies specialise in a particular geographical area and not all will be set up to transport your belongings abroad. Check that the firm caters for moves from your hometown to the destination city. Companies that primarily operate in areas where the cost of living is high (like London) may also charge more.
- Do you need to transport items that require specialist knowledge and handling skills? Items such as pianos, grandfather clocks, antiques, pictures and other valuable or delicate items need careful packaging and skilled handling to avoid damage during transit.
- How much are you prepared to do yourself? Some moving companies offer extra services, such as packing and unpacking your belongings at each end or providing a cleaning service, but they do so at an extra fee.
How to Choose a Removals Company
There are hundreds of removals companies to choose from in the UK. So how do you choose the best one for your needs, and how can you tell if a company is reliable?
- Find out how established the company is. How many years of experience can they offer? Have they been providing the service you need for a decent length of time or is it a new (and relatively untested) company?
- Look for positive reviews. Check out the company’s website for case studies and customer testimonials. It’s important to search review sites such as Trustpilot and Feefo too as these aim to provide independent customer testimonials.
- Check that the company has adequate insurance. Before putting any cash down, ask if the company has insurance in place to cover your possessions if they are damaged or lost in transit. This is especially important if you have high-value items to transport.
- Request a survey. Ask for the removal company to visit your home and survey the job that needs to be done — if COVID-19 restrictions rule out this option, ask the firm to conduct a survey remotely using video footage or a conference call. A survey is the only way to get an accurate and fair quote. It also ensures that the removals team arrive fully equipped to manage your move on the scheduled day. Keep in mind that if they are unprepared, this could cause delays. Requesting a survey also allows the company to flag any particular issues, such as the need for multiple trips to move all of your belongings or problems with access. A reputable house removals company will not charge for this service.
- Ask for a detailed quote. After a survey, the removals firm should be able to provide a free, no-obligation quote — one they will not change unless you change the criteria of the job. Ask them if they foresee any additional costs arising not included in the quote and check what is included in their price. Will they cover any parking permits required at the final destination? Will they be unloading your belongings onto the lawn or does their quote include positioning furniture in the property at your direction? WIll there be a charge for delays? Some charge for every hour they fall behind schedule, so if you’re left waiting for the solicitors to complete the sale, this could be costly.
- Avoid cash-in-hand operations. If the company insists on payment in cash and refuses to accept any other method of payment, this should serve as a red flag. Established and reputable removals firms will accept card payments and bank transfers.
- Do they belong to a recognised trade association? If a company holds membership of the British Association of Removers (BAR), this is a very good sign. If anything goes wrong, there will be a clear procedure in place to rectify the situation. Furthermore, if you pay a deposit and the company is unable to complete the job — for example, if they go out of business — your advanced payment will be protected by the BAR.
- Do they offer the services you need? As outlined above, there is no one-size-fits-all removals company. If there is a particular service you must have, such as transporting your belongings abroad or specialist packing, make sure the company you have selected can cater to these needs.
- Do they have availability on your moving date? Many people have to move on the day of completion because this is when they are legally required to vacate the property they are selling. Some removals companies book up months in advance, especially for prime moving slots — most house completions occur on a Friday lunchtime. If you’ve found a company that ticks every box on your “must-have services and credentials” list, check if they can accommodate you on your chosen moving day and book them in fast!
Comparison sites such as Compare My Move are great tools for helping you choose the best removal company and plan a stress-free house move.
Best Removals Companies in the UK
There are hundreds of professional removals companies in the UK and many focus their services on a specific geographical region. In this guide, we’ve highlighted the top three national companies that are established, reputable and can cater for most people’s needs. However, check that a company can offer the service you require before booking.
- Pickfords. This is one of the largest and most established removals companies in the UK. They are a member of the BAR, the Association of Relocation Professionals (ARP) and RoSPA among other industry associations. Pickford also has a string of accreditations that give movers the peace of mind that they are in good hands. The company has a strong presence on Trustpilot with an average rating of 4.7 stars. Apart from being extremely trustworthy, they offer national and international moves as well as providing storage services. For UK moves, they offer various tiers of service, from providing boxes for self-movers to the “Pickford’s Gold” service for people who want their entire move managed for them.
- Abels. Founded in 1958, Abels is another long-running company with a solid reputation for delivering excellent customer service. They are members of the BAR, Royal Warrant holders and have an average Trustpilot score of 4.8. Their removal services cover the whole of the UK and they also provide international removals and shipping. Furthermore, they have the specialist skills and knowledge to move antiques and precious items, such as pianos and grandfather clocks. They also offer storage, handyman and personal assistant services. This is one of the most comprehensive offerings on the market, so if you have a specific need, Abels could be a great choice for you.
- Britannia Movers International. Established in 1981, Britannia is one of the “newer” companies but has amazing coverage of the UK with more than 45 offices dotted around the country. They hold membership of the BAR and many other accreditations, and their average Trustpilot rating is 4.1. Britannia’s services include the UK and overseas removals as well as storage. They also specialise in business removals. Customers can use their handy “Movers App” to access key documents and complete a video survey if there is no time for a home visit — or the seller prefers to avoid this, for example, due to concerns about COVID-19.
Moving house doesn’t have to top your list of “most stressful life events”. Pick the right removals company for your needs — and one that you can rely on to deliver a top-notch service — and moving day will be plain-sailing.
If you want to make selling up and moving on even easier, why not contact our professional and friendly team of house cash buyers to find out how House Buyer Bureau’s service works? We can buy your house for cash in as little as 7 days. There are no estate agents or legal fees to pay and we can manage the whole process remotely.