If you are moving to a new home, it is a good idea to get at least 3 estimates from reputable moving companies. Even if you are thinking about doing the move yourself, it is still a good idea to get moving estimates as this can put moving costs into better perspective and you will better be able to decide if it is worth the hassle of doing a DIY move.
Before you start getting moving estimates, you need to be aware that there are several types of moving estimates. The type can make a major difference to your budget, so it is important that you fully understand these.
Binding moving estimates
A binding moving estimate is a fixed price. You will pay exactly what was estimated, and not more or less – even if the movers later discover that you have more or less belongings. The benefit of opting for a binding estimate is that it makes budgeting for a move much easier and you won't have any unpleasant surprises on moving day. However, for moving companies, it is risky to give out binding moving estimates since you might end up having more items than they calculated. Moving companies will generally pass the risk onto the customer, meaning that they charge you the higher end of their estimate.
Non binding moving estimates
Even the best moving companies can't 100% accurately gauge how many belongings you have and how long it will take to load/unload all of them? So, most moving companies offer non-binding moving estimates. A moving expert will come to your home, look at your belongings, and then give you an estimate based on the amount of belongings and any special services you may need. The estimate is not bound by any contract. On moving day, you could end up paying more or less than the estimate. On the downside, this makes it harder to budget for a move. On the plus side, you aren't overpaying for moving services.
Not to exceed non-binding moving estimate
For most customers, this is the best type of moving estimate. It is a non-binding estimate, but has a "not-to-exceed" clause, meaning you won't have to pay more than the established cost. So, if the movers seriously underestimate the amount of belongings you have, you won’t be in for a big shock.
How to ensure an accurate moving estimate
No matter what type of moving estimate you choose, it is important that you work with the moving company to help them give you an accurate estimate. For starters, make sure you are choosing a moving company with experience. An inexperienced mover will not be able to accurately estimate your needs and the estimate could be way off.
Also remember that good moving companies will provide free on-site moving estimate. They will send a professional to your home or business to assess your belongings and situation (such as if you have a 5th floor walk-up as opposed to a first-floor ranch with its own driveway).
Be open and honest with the movers. Tell them about fragile items, valuables, and furniture which need padding. This will help the movers give you a more accurate estimate so you can budget for your move accordingly.