Non-Binding Moving Estimate vs. Binding Moving Estimate

EstimatesSo you’re almost ready to hire a moving company! You’ve done your research, 2-3 companies have met with you to perform a pre-move survey, and now these reputable movers have sent you itemized moving estimates. As you compare these companies’ move plans, proposed services, and the bottom lines, be sure you’re clear on which of the three kinds of moving estimates you are reviewing: a non-binding moving estimate, a binding moving estimate, or a not-to-exceed moving estimate.

So what are the differences between these three types of interstate moving estimates?

Non-Binding Moving Estimate

The non-binding moving estimate is the most common kind of interstate estimate. It means that the price that is presented to you is a projected cost for your move, provided to help you anticipate the cost, select a company, and plan a budget. It is not a contracted or guaranteed price, it is simply what the company thinks the final price of your move will be based on the inventory and services you discussed. If the actual services end up totaling less than your estimate, then you will pay less than the estimated price. If the actual services end up totaling a little more than your estimate, then you will pay a little more.

If you’re looking to pay the lowest price for your move, a non-binding estimate is your best choice, as your final bill can potentially be lower than estimated.

Most interstate move estimates are non-binding. The main components of the interstate estimate are the weight of your move and number of packing materials. The company will estimate what your total weight will be based on the inventory they created with you. After everything is loaded, the truck will be weighed to determine the actual weight. If the actual weight and materials used are less than estimated, then you will pay less. If the actual weight and materials used are more than estimated, then you will pay a little more.

A common question about non-binding estimates is whether the client can expect their moving estimate to be accurate. The answer is, absolutely! As long as what you end up moving and packing is what was agreed on the estimated inventory, the estimate should be very accurate. Estimate accuracy plays a large role in a client’s satisfaction, so every reputable moving company strives to provide the most accurate estimate possible, otherwise they risk losing their good reputation and future business!

Also keep in mind that an interstate moving company cannot require you to pay more than 110% more than a non-binding estimate prior to interstate delivery, and the client is not obligated to pay any charges exceeding 110% until 30 days after delivery. So it is certainly in the company’s interest to be accurate.

Binding Moving Estimate

A binding moving estimate may sometimes be quoted for an interstate move. A binding estimate means that you must pay the transportation price listed in the estimate, even if the final weight of your move is more or less than estimated.

The benefit of the binding moving estimate is that the transportation price is guaranteed, so you know exactly what your bill will be after the move. However, binding estimates may result in the client paying a little more for that guarantee. You may notice that the majority of binding estimates have a higher bottom line than non-binding estimates.

Keep in mind that for most binding estimates only the transportation part of the estimate is binding (the bulk of the estimate, which is based on the shipment’s weight). For example, if your binding estimate was based on self pack, the client packing everything, but then on move day you choose to have the moving company pack everything, then the packing was an additional service you requested and will be added on top of the binding transportation cost on the final bill.

Local Moving Estimate

Almost every local move estimate is a non-binding estimate, it is very rare for a local move estimate to be binding or not-to-exceed. The main components of local estimates are an hourly rate for the labor and truck plus the packing materials used. Therefore, for a non-binding estimate, you will pay less if the actual move requires less time and materials than estimated, and conversely, you will pay a little more if the actual move requires more time and materials than estimated.

Are you ready to get your interstate moving estimate? Call Olympia Moving & Storage at 800.222.4744 or fill out the estimate request form. Olympia moved families to every state in the USA last year!

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Estimating the Number of Boxes For Moving

Estimating number of boxes for movingOur moving consultants are all experts in estimating the weight, volume, and costs for a move, but even they will agree that estimating the number of boxes for moving can be tricky. Truthfully, the number of boxes you need to purchase to start packing is completely variable and unique to every relocation. Some homes are sparse, some families are pack rats, and even the types of boxes needed are unique to what you own.

Therefore, the most accurate way to determine how many boxes you need will always be to have a professional moving consultant do an in-home survey and produce a cube sheet. The cube sheet will include the number and types of boxes you will need to start packing, and that list will be completely customized to your items.

However, sometimes you just need a rule of thumb to purchase boxes and start packing. Here are some averages and generalizations we use for estimating the number of boxes needed for a move:

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the types of boxes sold for packing for a move.

 

Average number of boxes needed to pack an apartment or condo:

ROOM 1.5 cu. ft. small box 3.1 cu. ft. medium box 4.5 cu. ft. large box 5.1 cu. ft. dishpack box Wardrobe Boxes
Kitchen 2 5 4 4 0
Living Room 2 3 2 1 0
Dining Room 0 1 0 2 0
Master Bedroom 1 5 5 0 4
Bedroom #2 1 3 3 0 2
Bathroom 2 0 2 0 0
TOTAL 8 17 16 7 6

Average number of boxes needed for a single family home move:

ROOM 1.5 cu. ft. small box 3.1 cu. ft. medium box 4.5 cu. ft. large box 5.1 cu. ft. dishpack box Wardrobe Boxes
Kitchen 4 6 4 6 0
Living Room 4 4 4 2 0
Dining Room 0 2 0 4 0
Master Bedroom 3 6 8 0 6
Bedroom #2 2 5 5 0 2
Bedroom #3 2 5 5 0 2
Bathroom #1 2 0 2 0 0
Bathroom #2 2 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 19 28
28 12 10

These estimates only take into account an average home set-up.  Think about which things you tend to have more of than the average household, then add boxes based on that.

  • Don’t forget about adding boxes to pack hall closets, basements, attics, garages, and sheds.
  • If you have many books, papers, or records, add more 1.5 boxes.
  • For more knick-knacks, small appliances, and miscellaneous, add more 3.1 boxes.
  • For more clothes, blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals, add 4.5 boxes.
  • For additional kitchenware, add 5.1 boxes.

Paper and Tape

  • Tape: purchase 1 roll of tapes for every 10 boxes
  • Packing Paper: purchase 25 lbs of packing paper for every 2 dishpack boxes, this is enough to cover those dishpacks and additional fragiles in the other boxes

Other tips and rules of thumb for estimating boxes:

  • Don’t forget your mirrors and artwork!  Add 1 mirror carton for every 2 large frames in your home.
  • Do you have bookcases?  Add 6 additional 1.5 boxes for every bookcase in your home.
  • For closets with hanging clothes, a wardrobe box will hold 2 feet worth of hanging items, so just measure the width of your closet to determine how many wardrobe boxes you need.
  • Moving.com has a handy packing materials calculator that is also a good guideline for estimating boxes.

Ready to purchase boxes? If you’re packing for a Boston move or Washington D.C. move, you can request a free box delivery by filling out this form.

Need more packing help? Be sure to check out:
Packing Resource Center
Free Printable Moving Box Labels
9 Items You Shouldn’t Bring When Moving

Why is a Moving Company In-Home Survey Important?

After you’ve done your research and selected a few moving companies you want to pursue, the next step is to call the company to schedule a moving company in-home survey appointment. We’ll review what an in-home survey appointment is, and why it’s important to have one before you select a moving company.

What should I expect during the in-home survey?

During the in-home survey, a representative from the moving company will visit your home. Together you will do a walk through of the property so the representative can take an inventory of what needs to be moved. The inventory is the key to estimating your moving costs, click here to learn more about inventories.

After the survey, you and the representative will discuss which services are required, the move plan, pricing, and any of your questions. The in-home survey usually takes about 25-45 minutes depending on the size of your property and how many questions you have.

What is the purpose of an in-home survey?

Every move is unique, but the factors of every move are the same: what needs to be moved, what are the specifications of the locations of the move, and what do you need from your mover. These are the basics that the moving company needs to plan the move and provide you with an estimated price. Without this information, the company has no idea how many crew members and trucks to send, what equipment to bring, how long the move will take, and which services you need. The best and most accurate way to obtain this information is to meet with you in your home.

How does an in-home survey benefit me?

Most importantly, an in-home survey is the best way to get the most accurate estimate of costs, bar none. The in-home survey is also your opportunity to interview and get to know the moving company. It’s also the perfect time to ask the moving company all your questions and better understand the moving process. Many of our clients say that the in-home survey experience is the reason they choose Olympia!

What should I be evaluating during the in-home survey?

Throughout the survey, ask yourself:

  • Did the representative arrive on time?
  • Is the representative dressed professionally?
  • Do you feel comfortable and trust the company’s representative?
  • Is the presented move plan comprehensive and specific to your move?
  • Is the representative able to confidently and expertly answer your questions?

When is it okay to do a phone survey?

The process for a phone survey is exactly like an in-home survey, except you will list the furniture room by room over the phone with the guidance of the representative. If you have a smaller move, such as a two bedroom apartment or less, the moving company can do a very accurate survey over the phone instead of in your home. However, if you request to do an in-home survey instead, we are happy to oblige.

If your home is larger than a two bedroom apartment, it is much more difficult to create an accurate inventory over the phone, so the in-home survey is highly recommended.

What if the moving company will not do a survey?

There are some red flags to watch for when asking for a survey. Do not hire a moving company if:

  • The company quotes you a price without a taking a detailed inventory or going through the move details with you. This means they don’t have enough information to quote you a price, therefore, they probably are not quoting you an accurate price.
  • The company wants to do a phone survey for single family home or large move. This means they do not want to take the time that is necessary to gather the information needed for an accurate quote.
  • The company refuses your request for a representative to meet with you for an in-home survey. This means they do not have a representative available to meet with you who would be a good reflection on the company.

How should I prepare for the in-home survey?

For the most part, the representative will guide you through the survey process. However, the more clarity you have on what the move entails, the more productive the survey will be. Make sure you know:

  • Which pieces are being moved
  • What you are selling or donating before the move
  • Whether you’re moving anything yourself
  • What the movers are packing vs. what your family is packing
  • Have a short list of questions for your mover to help you make a decision

When should I schedule the in-home survey?

As soon as you know what you want to move and when you’re moving, you’re ready to schedule your in-home survey. This is usually right after you sell or purchase your home, and preferably about 3-4 weeks before your preferred move date.

Looking for more information on choosing a mover? Be sure to check out:
Choosing a Better Business Bureau Moving Company
What is a Cube Sheet?
Tips for Cleaning Out Belongings Before a Move

Are you ready for your in-home estimate?
Request an estimate with Olympia Moving & Storage