Keep Your Sanity with These 6 Moving Day Tips

Two girls on couch, surrounded by moving boxesYour boxes are packed and the paperwork is finished for your new apartment. Moving day is just around the corner. Are chaos and drama inevitable parts of moving day, or can they be avoided? They can, with these handy moving day tips from your friends at ApartmentSearch!

1. Get more organized than you think necessary.

Labels are your best friend! Label each and every box, and get specific. Instead of simply writing, “Kitchen,” write, “Kitchen: Plates, bowls, coffee mugs.” When you’re frazzled and trying to find something in your new apartment, you’ll be glad you labeled everything carefully. Plus, this will help your movers know exactly where to put things.

2. Plan your transportation.

If you’re renting a moving truck, figure out exactly when you can pick it up. If you’re moving into an apartment complex, ask the property manager where you can park the truck during loading and unloading – some apartments have designated time slots and parking areas for moving activities. You may even need to book the freight elevator.

If you have generous friends helping you out, make sure they’re aware of your moving schedule. Don’t assume everything will magically come together. Making a schedule ahead of time and discussing your transportation details are crucial to the success of your move!

3. Don’t be afraid to do some spring cleaning.

The less stuff you have to move, the easier your move will be. When you’re packing up your apartment, don’t be afraid to throw out or donate clothes, decor, and knick-knacks that you don’t use anymore. This is a perfect time to reevaluate your belongings and take some donations to Goodwill. There’s no point in hauling your clutter to a new apartment! Our handy list of what NOT to pack can help you get started.

4. Pack a “carry on” bag.

Pack a small suitcase with everything you typically need on a day-to-day basis. This should include a change of clothes, your toiletries, pajamas, medications, and anything else you’d need for a weekend getaway. This will be helpful when you need something but don’t want to tear open all your boxes to find it.

5. Find a pet sitter and/or babysitter for the day.

You’re going to have your hands full on moving day, so give your furry ones and little ones to someone else. If a neither is in the budget, Movers.com suggests assigning older kids the duty of watching the family pet, taking them out for bathroom breaks, tracking their food intake, playing with them, etc. They can also be responsible for packing and unpacking Fido’s food and bed!

6. Thank your movers.

Having great movers, whether hired or friends, can mean all the difference between a chaotic move and a smooth move. Show your appreciation all day so that morale stays high! These creative ideas can help you say “thank you” without breaking the bank.

No matter how carefully you organize and plan your move, getting all of your stuff from Point A to Point B is no easy feat. Simply put, moving is stressful. ApartmentSearch is here to make it easier. Check out our moving services to see how!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Everything You Need to Know About Relocating With a Portable Moving Container

Portable moving and storage containers are growing in popularity as a convenient way to move. Instead of loading boxes and furniture into a moving truck, many people are opting to pack all their items in a portable moving container and ship it to their new home. With moving being as stressful as it is, a portable moving container can help relieve some of the anxiety.

The beauty of portable moving containers is their versatility. In a traditional move, you’re on a tight schedule; but if you choose to rent a portable container, you can pack it at your own convenience and take as long as you need.

“If you’re presented with a scenario where your lease is ending before your next place is ready, moving containers are an ingenious solution,” says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of Oceanside, CA–based HireAHelper, which also has a Move Helpers division that loads and unloads moving trucks and containers.

“Many moving container companies offer multiple sizes and terms to their boxes, so this moving option is likely to fit your personal move,” he says. And, since most companies will transport the containers for you, Glanz says the experience is quite similar to a full-service move, especially if you also hire movers.

How to rent a moving container

You need to find companies that serve the locations you’re moving to and from.

Glanz says the American Moving & Storage Association can help you find a ProMover, aka a certified moving company that has passed a background check and agrees to uphold the organization’s code of ethics. Glanz recommends looking at major companies that serve your area, but also checking to see if a smaller competitor is available for a better price.

When choosing a company, he says, you need to figure out what’s important to you, be it moving dates, the sturdiness of the boxes, prices, discounts, user reviews, or something else. Individual company profiles are also on the site, and Glanz says that info is based on reported invoices and reviews from people who have used the companies.

After you decide what you want, you can book online or by phone.

The process of using a portable storage container goes a little like this: You book the container, it gets dropped off to you to fill, and then the container is taken to the location of your choice. But there are a few additional wrinkles.

“You need to make sure your drop-off and pick-up locations are cleared with your street, homeowners association, or the city, depending on where you live,” Glanz says.

How much do portable moving containers cost?

The price you’ll pay for a container is based on a number of factors, including the size of the container, the distance you need it shipped, and how long you’ll be renting it. Do your homework and reach out to a number of portable moving container companies for quotes based on your specific needs.

But to give you a frame of reference, the cost of renting a portable container from PODS, a moving storage company that rents and ships containers, is usually between $299 and $499. According to PODS, a long-distance move averages $1,237 to $2,999 and includes a month of storage.

Tips for packing a moving container

Believe it or not, there’s a right way to pack a portable container that will ensure your belongings will still be in good shape when you unpack them. The first step is to distribute the weight evenly.

“It’s tempting to place all of your heavy things in the unit first, but spread out the furniture, appliances, and other large items in the container so all the weight isn’t on one side, says Nathan Chandler, CEO of Zippy Shell Louisiana, a moving and storage company in New Orleans. “Use fabric pads for wooden furniture that could easily get scratched, and make sure to place boxes with fragile items on top of heavier, more durable objects.”

You should also put your important items in the front of the storage container.

“When moving, it’s easy to focus only on getting your things out of your old house and not on what you’ll do when you arrive at your new home,” Chandler says. But you’ll want to have access to your essential items like plates, mattresses, linens, and clothes first.

And when it comes to family heirlooms and important documents, he says it’s best to keep them with you, if possible.

“Although portable storage containers are secure and durable, there’s always a chance that something could get damaged,” Chandler says. “These objects are safer with you during your move.”

Source: realtor.com

Moving Stressing You Out? Here Are 5 Move-Planning Apps to Make Your Life Easier

What can eclipse the excitement of moving to a new home? The headache of packing and unpacking, deciding what to toss, and actually transporting all of your prized possessions, that’s what. It’s a big job, and someone has to do it—but that doesn’t make the impending stress of moving any less overwhelming.

What will help take the pain out of preparing to relocate are move-planning apps. Like other productivity apps that can be downloaded on your smartphone, move-planning apps will help you keep everything organized.

“Move-planning apps work great for preparation and organization, because they help you break up your move into small, actionable steps, so you can be prepared on your move day,” says Jason Burroughs, founder and CEO at Able Body Moving and Delivery in Birmingham, AL. “This can greatly save you on the cost of your move, because the less the movers do, the more money you keep in your pocket.”

Below are five of the best move-planning apps to help make moving day as hassle-free as possible.

1. Sortly

Sortly is an app that helps you keep inventory for your move.
Sortly is an app that helps you keep inventory for your move.

Sortly

The beauty of this app is its attention to detail; it allows you to compartmentalize every inch of your house. You can create a moving checklist (which can be exported for movers), photograph items and categorize them by location (room, closet, box, etc.), and you can add value and condition for specific items (i.e. your prized dolphin painting).

For $3.99 a month, one user can catalogue an unlimited number of items on three devices. The $25-a-month plan allows three users to catalog unlimited items, with the option of adding users $3 a month per user. The app also has a two-week free trial and a free version that allows one user to catalogue 100 items on one device.

Sortly is available on the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and the Google Play Store for Androids.

2. Unpakt

Find a moving company with Unpakt
Find a moving company with Unpakt

Unpakt

This app helps you find a moving company. Enter basic details—when, where, and what you’re moving—and you’ll see real prices (not estimates) from verified firms. Unpakt offers a price guarantee that only changes if you add or remove an item or service.

Booking a service is simple: Just select a mover, enter your billing information, and your move is reserved. Your credit card will be charged two business days before the day of the move. Unpakt guarantees that moving companies are screened to ensure that they’re reputable; you can also read reviews from other consumers on the app.

Unpakt is free and is available on the App Store for iPhones and iPads and the Google Play Store for Androids.

3. MakeSpace

MakeSpace is a great storage solution.
MakeSpace is a great storage solution.

MakeSpace

If you’re downsizing or moving to a home short on storage space, MakeSpace will come in handy. “We take care of the hauling and heavy lifting, at a price that’s comparable to traditional, DIY self-storage,” says Amory Wooden, VP of brand at MakeSpace.

The app makes the process as simple as possible: Just book an appointment, and its team of professional movers will come to pick up your stuff and haul it off to storage. When you want your items back, schedule a delivery, and the team will return your goods.

As an added bonus, Wooden says MakeSpace will bring complimentary supplies, like bubble wrap and free MakeSpace bins.

When the items arrive at the storage facility, the company sends photos of everything—and the photos can be used to request specific items that you want to get out of storage.

The storage plans range from $69 per month for a 2-foot by 2-foot unit, to $469 per month for a 10-foot by 20-foot unit.

The MakeSpace app is free and is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads.

4. Flying Ruler

Flying Ruler will help you measure anything in your home.
Flying Ruler will help you measure anything in your home.

Flying Ruler

Not sure if that sofa will fit in your new living room? Is it too large to come through the front door? Flying Ruler can help you be sure. This app is a tape measure, ruler, protractor, and a goniometer (otherwise known as an angle-measurer).

After you calibrate your phone—a simple process that the app walks you through—you can take measurements merely by moving your phone from one point to the next. The measurement is then displayed on the interface in either inches or centimeters. You can also take a photo of the measurements. The Flying Ruler app has a high accuracy rate, but the company recommends that you measure more than once.

FlyingRuler costs $1.99 and is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads.

5. Dolly

Hire someone to help you move with Dolly.
Hire someone to help you move with Dolly.

Dolly

Dolly helps you find vetted and insured pick-up truck owners to help you with moving, furniture pick-up, and even hauling off your trash. Found your perfect sofa at a store that doesn’t deliver? Dolly can help you hire someone to transport your purchase home.

In addition, Dolly can match you with someone for a “labor-only move,” if you need some extra muscle to move stuff around your home.

The app is extremely simple to navigate: Enter your details (what/where/when you need something picked up and delivered) and receive a quote for the service. If you agree to the price, simply book the Dolly. You can book a same-day delivery, or schedule the delivery for the next day, or even the next month.

You can ask for almost anything to be moved, with the exception of a few items, such as gun safes, pianos, and alcohol.

Dolly is free. It is available for download on the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and the Google Play Store for Androids.

Source: realtor.com

What Can a Landlord Deduct From Your Deposit? A Primer for Current and Former Renters

Maybe you didn’t think twice when you put a big security deposit on that fancy apartment two summers ago. But now that you’re getting ready to move again, you might be wondering how much of that deposit you’ll actually get back.

Believe it or not, your deposit isn’t at the mercy of your landlord. Tenants have rights, and landlords have limitations on what they can deduct from your deposit.

In Florida, for example, “if the landlord fails to return the security deposit in a timely manner, or deducts for normal wear and tear, then the tenant can sue the landlord to get their deposit back and the landlord will have to pay the tenant’s attorney fee,” says Larry Tolchinsky, a real estate lawyer and partner at Sackrin & Tolchinsky in Hallandale Beach, FL.

But to avoid getting to that point, it’s important for tenants to understand the basics on deposits. In most states, the timely return of your deposit means there’s a deadline—such as 30 days—so be sure to leave a forwarding address.

When landlords deduct from your deposit, they will typically include an itemized statement explaining how the deposit was applied. In California, for example, if a landlord deducts any more than $126, they must provide receipts for their deductions.

Landlords can’t deduct from your deposit for any old reason; there has to be a legit circumstance. The rules may vary from city to city (or state to state), so read up on what your landlord can and can’t do in your area. But, in general, here are some things landlords can deduct from your deposit.

Nonpayment of rent

Unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many tenants hard, rendering them unable to pay rent. Some landlords and management companies have offered rent relief, but others have claimed that unpaid rent is unpaid rent. In this situation, landlords can collect unpaid rent—and late fees—from your deposit as necessary.

“Rent that is not paid is considered damages when a tenant vacates,” says Eric Drenckhahn, a real estate investor and property manager, who runs the blog NoNonsenseLandlord.com. “A tenant cannot use the damage deposit to pay their rent without the landlord’s approval, but a landlord can deduct it for nonpayment after a tenant has left.”

Unpaid utilities

Forgetting to pay your utility bill happens. But if you pay for things like trash and water through your property management company, be aware that your landlord could tap your security deposit to cover any bills you missed.

Tolchinsky says there is no black and white law on this, but it is possible. It all depends on the terms of your lease and local rules governing the jurisdiction that you reside in.

Abnormal cleaning costs

If you left the place trashed and filthy, expect your landlord to dig into your deposit. Landlords can deduct from your deposit for excessive dirtiness, beyond normal cleaning costs.

Drenckhahn says the place should be “broom clean,” or as clean as when you moved in.

“Dirt and grease left behind is not wear and tear,” says Drenckhahn. “Examples of excessive dirtiness includes removing stains from the carpet, replacing the carpet due to a cat using a closet for a litter box, or replacing door trim due to cat scratches.”

Doing a little cleaning before leaving isn’t a bad idea, but it doesn’t guarantee it’ll save your security deposit.

Tolchinksy says if a tenant hires a professional cleaner, rents a steam cleaner, or buys paint to paint the walls, he or she “should maintain all invoices and receipts” to provide proof to the landlord.

Damage to the property

Security deposit laws allow a landlord to deduct from a security deposit for any damage. This is different from normal wear and tear, such as faded paint or worn carpet that is naturally occurring and not due to the tenant. Examples of damage to the property include a broken bathroom vanity, cracked kitchen countertop, or broken doors.

Tolchinsky says it’s a good idea for a tenant to request a move-in and a move-out checklist and document by pictures and video the condition of the apartment.

Items left behind

Packing and moving everything you own is a huge undertaking. But regardless of how exhausted you are, don’t leave any items behind; it could be a costly mistake.

“Mattresses and box springs left behind are expensive to get rid of, and you will be charged accordingly,” says Drenckhahn. “It is not unusual to be charged $50 or more for each piece.”

If you do need to get rid of a bunch of large items, hire a junk hauling company, try to sell them online, or look into donating them to charity.

Breaking the lease

In some circumstances, breaking your lease is the only option. But breaking your lease early makes it less likely that you will reunite with your deposit.

A landlord can keep all, or part, of your deposit to cover costs if you break your lease early, per landlord-tenant state laws and what’s written in your lease contract. If you can, try to move when your lease is up.

“In my places, you are required to be out by 10 a.m. There is no late checkout, as I have tenants generally moving in the next day,” says Drenckhahn. “When you have the place clean, and even move out a few days early, it’s very easy to refund 100% of the damage deposit.”

Source: realtor.com

Everything Must Go! How to Sell Your Stuff—for the Most Money—Before You Move

Taking the time to sort and sell your stuff before a move could save you a lot of money; in fact, it might even pay for your move entirely. And with the abundance of online marketplaces available, it’s never been easier to sell your stuff hassle-free.

But what if you aren’t just looking to get rid of things, but also to sell them for the best price? We spoke with moving experts from around the country to bring you these insider tips on selling your stuff for the most money.

Bundle items together

There are a lot of online marketplaces claiming to be the best one to help you sell your stuff, but in practice they’re not all equal.

“Craigslist is 80% flakes,” says New York City–based art collector Michele Hembree.

In 2018, Hembree and her family began the grueling yearlong process of moving from their suburban Alameda, CA, home to a small apartment in New York.

They had a lot of stuff to get rid of— everything from old books to 20 years’ worth of Christmas ornaments, children’s toys, and camping gear. After making a checklist with her husband, she got to work on selling nearly everything they had.

Using high-traffic sites like Facebook Marketplace (for small things) and Chairish (for furniture and larger pieces), Hembree’s strategy was to focus her efforts on marketing the items to get the best price.

“Sometimes I’d bundle things together—then you can ask for more,” she says.

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Watch: 4 Things You Have to Leave Behind When You Sell Your Home

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Put time into your photos and descriptions

Hembree also found that she had the most success when posting her items for sale with high-quality photos and descriptions, including information about the item’s brand and quality.

“If you take photos of your stuff in a dark corner, no one will buy it,” she says. “The photos have to be good.”

Miranda Benson, marketing coordinator for San Francisco–based moving company Dolly, emphasizes that point—with an extra trick to make your stuff stand out.

“I always advise including at least one stock photo of the item—you can usually find this by Googling the product and brand name,” she suggests. “And then a few well-lit, high-definition photos you’ve taken yourself.”

Benson also stresses the importance of the description.

“Make sure to be clear about what’s included, what condition it’s in, how long you’ve had it, and what kind of home it comes from, like if someone has a pet or smokes,” she says. “Whether it’s a designer handbag or a functional futon, buyers need to evaluate for themselves what they’re getting.”

Don’t rely solely on online marketplaces

To be sure she was getting the best price for her stuff, Hembree also sold through a variety of channels both online and offline.

“We had a great secondhand store nearby,” she says. “So maybe once every two weeks I would drop off a box or a piece at the consignment store—then I’d pick up a check a few weeks later.”

Just before the move, she got rid of her remaining things by selling them on site, bundling low-cost items together.

“It was a huge garage sale, and we had a great turnout because I advertised it a lot on sites like yardsales.com and estatesales.net,” she says.

Benson also encourages her clients to sell through multiple channels, citing Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp among her favorite online platforms. Although she doesn’t explicity dislike Craigslist, she says, “It does require you to be checking your email or texting people, which isn’t always the most effective for a quick sale.”

For more efficient sales, Benson recommends people tap into their personal networks, and take advantage of common interest groups, using them to advertise any niche items that might be harder to sell elsewhere.

“I belong to a few Facebook groups that are specific buying and selling marketplaces, including one for fans of Modcloth and vintage-style clothing,” she says. “I find selling my clothes there to be much easier than selling them on Poshmark or similar sites, because I’m reaching a niche audience that’s specifically interested in what I’m selling.”

Time it right for the best sale

Like most things, timing matters when it comes to making the best sale. Benson advises selling when people are in a shopping mood—that is to say, just after they get paid.

“Post new items on payday—generally the 1st and 15th of the month, or the second and fourth Fridays of the month,” she says. “Unless you’re selling a significant amount of items, you won’t notice a big difference, but you’re likely to see more activity and more deals being made after people get paid.”

Hembree used a similar tactic to sell her stuff for the most money, often dropping items off at a consignment shop just before the weekend— or posting new items online Friday afternoon.

“If people are going to be picking something up,” she says, “or scrolling these sites or going to a store, that’s when it’s going to be.”

Source: realtor.com

5 Rude Awakenings You’ll Experience Moving to the Burbs

You moved to the suburbs for a reason. You didn’t go there naively. You knew it would be different. It was clear from the start that you would trading your innovative restaurants, exciting nightlife, and cool cultural attractions for more space and, well, mostly the extra space.

But there are other things you may not see coming. I am here to warn you about the rude awakenings you’ll experience when you leave city living for the burbs.

Some streets don’t have sidewalks

Nice, but where the hell are the sidewalks?
Nice, but where the hell are the sidewalks?

The Odyssey Online

So we’re walking to Trader Joe’s (because we’re still holding out on buying a car), enjoying the springlike weather and sunshine when all of a sudden, we cross the street and boom: no sidewalk. The lawns go right up to the street with no  friendly path to guide our way.

How does this happen? How do you build an entire neighborhood of houses and not include a strip of concrete where people can walk without getting hit by a car? What is happening in these sidewalk-less neighborhoods? Do the kids just never visit one another? Do you walk in the street or on people’s lawns? Regardless, I feel like we’re taking our life in our hands.

It’s a driver’s world and pedestrians had better watch their butts

Get outta the street!
Get outta the street!

GifBin

The mysterious disappearance of sidewalks is just the first sign that you have no business walking around in public. There’s a new world order out here, and we pedestrians are no longer in charge.

In the city, there are so many people walking everywhere the cars have to drive more slowly and carefully. We vastly outnumber drivers, but not so in the suburbs. Drivers don’t expect to see people using their legs to get places. You are a novelty, with your “I’ll just walk the five blocks to the movie theater.” And you’d better be aware of drivers’ unawareness of you or you’ll get mowed down, fast.

Panda, move!
Panda, move!

MemeCenter

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that drivers are totally not expecting you to be out there. You’re like deer to them. They’re driving along and all of a sudden, OMG, person! What the hell is she doing out here, trying to cross the street? Doesn’t she know? It’s a STREET.

You will get lost in the supermarket

Where am I, even?
Where am I, even?

Imgur

They’re huge here. They carry everything, and yet you can’t find anything, partly because you’re spending a half-hour in front of the vast pasta aisle unable to make a choice. Grocery shopping in the suburbs becomes a huge time suck, because you have to cover so much ground to find anything and there are way too many distractions.

But there is so much food here!
But there is so much food here!

Giphy

Where are the green onions? Hey, look, fresh guava! Why can’t I find coconut oil anywhere? Oooh, a whole shelf of Sriracha!

The mall will suck you in and make you its own

Let's go to the mall!
Let’s go to the mall!

Giphy

Enjoy your limited days of being “too cool” for mall shopping, because it’s only a matter of time before you have to replace a broken wine glass. Or you’re just curious and want to indulge in a totally self-conscious ironic afternoon at the mall, as in, “haha, let’s do the mall today, stroll under the artificial lighting, and see what’s 40% off at Banana Republic.” (Answer: everything.) Because the trajectory beam of the mall will draw you in, sooner or later. And you’ll kind of like it, because all the stores are there and you have your Godiva right across from your Teavana. And then you’ll hate yourself for liking it. But you’ll go anyway, again and again. Who are you, anymore? Shh, shh, baby. It’s all right. There’s a sale on hurricane lamps at Crate & Barrel.

People are so gosh darn nice all the time

Well hello there!
Well hello there!

Giphy

Prepare yourself for this, because it’s going to throw you the first few times and you won’t even know how to respond: The people in your neighborhood may be nice. Like, sincerely friendly and helpful. The office staff at the doctor’s office. The shopkeepers. People who have no business being so nice. What is with all the smiling and hopes that I have a good experience in the waiting room?

I can do this smiling thing.
I can do this smiling thing.

Gifsec

Don’t worry, you’ll adjust to this culture shock. Just surrender to it all. Stop worrying and learn to love the mall, the huge supermarkets, the kindness. Just be really careful crossing the street, OK? All that niceness ends once people get behind the wheel.

Source: realtor.com

Our Basement Flooded 4 Times! Why It Could Happen to You, Too

When we bought a house in 2012, we were excited to give our children the playroom of their dreams in the basement. Since we’d never owned a house with a basement before, we had one question for the sellers: Had it ever flooded?

Prior to making an offer, we were assured up and down that the sellers had never had a basement flood. And not just one, but two home inspectors both agreed that the basement had never taken on water. We were sold.

When we moved in, the 200-square-foot basement had a lush rug on the floor, and walls covered in tree decals. We lined the walls with shelves of bins for the children’s toys and spent hours organizing every tiny Barbie outfit, Lego piece, and plastic fruit so that their playroom looked perfect.

The basement was my kids’ paradise … for two days. On Day Three, we woke up early in the morning to a strange sound.

“It sounds like running water,” said my husband, Rob. He headed to the basement to investigate. Within seconds, he was screaming, “Get down here!”

And when I did, I could not believe what I saw: The entire floor of our beloved basement was covered in water that was inching higher by the second. We spent the rest of the day calling our insurance company, dealing with water remediation companies, and crying. Because when your basement floods, there is a lot of crying involved.

As if that weren’t bad enough, that wasn’t our only flood; we endured four over the next four years, almost like clockwork. And each time, we learned valuable lessons. Here they are, in case they help you avoid the same fate.

Always insulate your pipes

One of our very first lessons? Pipes burst when they get cold. We’d removed the insulation around the pipes prior to moving in, since it contained asbestos. Only we hadn’t replaced it, so as soon as it got below freezing, the pipes froze and cracked. Our bad. The $10,000 cleanup was annoying, but thorough—and luckily, was almost entirely covered by insurance. We insulated the pipes and breathed a sigh of relief.

Enter flood No. 2. Almost a year (to the day) later, the same thing happened. The temperature fell below 10 degrees and a pipe froze. The non-asbestos insulation was simply not enough to combat the frigid temperatures. We caught this one earlier, so staved off major damage, but we still had to rip up the carpet. Again. And had to hire a water remediation company. Again. And invoke our home insurance.

Again.

Take care when installing new appliances

After our second flood, we installed a fancy system to keep our pipes heated all winter long that included copper wires running over the pipes and gentle heating designed to keep the water flowing. In hindsight, we wished we’d gone for this expensive fix the first time, so we could have avoided the second flood.

After this system was installed, we figured we’d solved the problem … but another one was brewing.

The following January, our daughter was having her ninth-birthday slumber party in the basement, when one of the girls noticed water dripping from one of the pipes in the corner of our basement. After getting 10 sugar-hyped 9-year-olds upstairs, Rob and I assessed the damage. Another call to insurance. Another remediation.

This time, flood No. 3 was caused by the cleaning chemicals our plumbers had used when they installed our new hot water heater. They’d failed to flush them out, thus clogging the pipes to the point of bursting. Had we been more on top of the process and done our homework, we might have checked that they’d flushed the pipes before bailing. Instead, we put all of our trust in the company and what they failed to tell us, we failed to know. From now on, any major home repair we make is well researched, and we always get at least two opinions.

We solved the problem, kicked ourselves for again not knowing, and breathed a sigh of relief, assuming this, at last, was our last flood. If only.

Watch what you flush

The following year, we made it all the way to March (March!) without a flood. But, like clockwork, flood No. 4 arrived anyway. This time, it was the basement half bath, where a year’s worth of flushed tampons—which claimed on the packaging that they’re “flushable”—had swamped the main sewage drain and forced the water back up into our laundry room. It was a mess, and by now, we both had a bit of PTSD from dealing with this same issue again and again.

Another lesson learned: Don’t flush tampons. Even if it claims they are flushable.

Act quickly

Waiting can mean the difference between a $10,000 remediation and a $2,000 one. Turn off the water, get the plumber out immediately, spring for the premium cleanup. Time is of the essence when you are dealing with water damage. Our first flood was so far gone by the time we got to it, the damage was extensive. The next three we caught before the floor was covered in an inch of water. Once there is standing water, the damage is bad. Which leads to our next point…

Get a shop vac

With our fourth and final flood, we decided to spring for a shop vac, which allowed my husband to get the water out of the laundry room within five minutes of shutting off the water. That time meant the difference between a $1,000 repair (carpet cleaning and some anti-mold treatment) and a $10,000 repair (ripping out the carpet, installing new carpet, and cutting out and replacing the baseboards). For $100, we learned you can have quick access to water cleanup. It’s so worth it. Even if you never use it (and pray you don’t).

Spring for tile in the basement

Due to these floods, we have ripped up our carpet four times. For the price of that, we could have installed tile in the first place. We haven’t installed tile yet (we keep hope alive!) but the next time, we will bite the bullet and do what we should have done four floods ago.

Don’t report a minor flood to insurance

We learned this last lesson the hard way after being dropped by our insurance company after flood No. 3. Getting new home insurance was a huge headache, and now it costs us four times our original insurance cost to stay insured. Before, we were paying about $1,100 per year; now we pay $4,000. We are not eligible for that reduced rate again for at least seven years (the date when it will be taken off the record), so over time, we are paying $21,000 more because we reported all our floods. The first was worth it to report (the damage was close to $10,000), but the next two were around $2,000 each. Had we paid out of pocket, it would have been better for us in the long run.

Source: realtor.com

How to Make Moving During the Holidays a Painless Experience

Moving during the “most wonderful time of the year” is anything but wonderful. At a time when people look forward to cozying up at home, the last thing most of us want to do is pack boxes, clean, and wrangle odds and ends.

But some people don’t have a choice. Selling your home in the winter, graduating from college, or relocating for a new job are just some of the reasons people move during the holidays.

If you find yourself in this scenario, trust us when we say that moving doesn’t have to ruin your holiday fun. The following tips will help make it less hectic and more bearable. We promise!

Include a change of address in your holiday cards

This year, you can kill two birds with one stone with your holiday cards: they can also serve as your change-of-address announcements.

“If you know your new address, consider including a change-of-address note in your holiday cards to alert family and friends,” says Melissa Pollock, lifestyle and organization expert at PODS.

Donate seasonal items

The holiday season is a prime time to spread goodwill to others.

“Consider giving some of your gently used items to those who may otherwise have no way of affording them,” says Jonathan Self, a real estate agent at Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

Warm clothes, in particular, are in demand at consignment stores during winter months, and parents welcome toys for their kids. If you’re not sure where to donate your goods, your local Salvation Army is a good place to start.

Ask for a holiday discount

You may find that movers are in the giving spirit this time of year and will show their appreciation for your business.

“Book your moving company early and ask for a discount,” says Val Burmester, an agent with Engel & Völkers Seattle. “This time of year is not as busy as others, so the movers might feel more generous and agree to a reduced price for their services.”

Another bonus: Your moving date is more likely to be available to book because movers aren’t as busy during this time of year.

Keep gifts to a minimum this year

Secret Santa gift exchanges, Yankee Swap parties, and traditional gift-giving among your friends and relatives are all part of the holiday season. However, the last thing people who are moving need is more stuff.

To keep the mess to a minimum, Pollock recommends asking people to not bring or send presents until you have moved into your new home.

“As an alternative, consider keeping gifts wrapped until you arrive at your new place for easy packing and unpacking,” she says.

Recycle supplies

Relocating involves a lot of moving supplies like bubble wrap and boxes, but you don’t have to spend a lot on them.

“To avoid waste and save some money, reuse the boxes and paper from packages you receive during the holidays,” Pollock says.

Ask your friends for their leftover boxes and wrapping paper as well.

Pack accordingly

You’re bound to have a lot of boxes on your hands, which can make it difficult to find your box of decorations. But make it easy to deck your new halls by packing your ornaments, garlands, and festive adornments last.

“Load your holiday decor boxes last so when you move into your new home you can give it an instant holiday feel,” Burmester says.

Give yourself the gift of a moving company

If you have to move during the holidays but you’d really prefer to reduce the stress of moving, Self recommends gifting yourself (and your family) a professional moving company. It’ll be more expensive than moving boxes yourself, but hiring an extra set of hands will allow you to focus on the parties and festive get-togethers that happen during this time of year.

Source: realtor.com

5 Terrible Mistakes People Make Moving During a Pandemic

So much can go wrong during a move. Add a coronavirus pandemic, and a lot more can go off the rails, and the consequences can extend far beyond a broken lampshade. They can affect your health.

Nonetheless, according to a survey conducted in late March by apartment listing site RENTCafe.com, 60% of renters planned to go ahead with their move, while just 9% are putting it off until the crisis is over.

“Not everyone gets the choice of when to move,” says Mike Glanz, founder of HireAHelper, an online moving services marketplace. “Predetermined corporate relocations and moves due to evictions or escrow closings are forcing some people to keep their move dates in place.”

Plus, transportation has been designated an essential service by the federal government, and that includes moving companies, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. Yet Glanz urges anyone planning to move soon to check with their state or city government to make sure no limitations or regulations exist preventing movers from operating.

And the truth is that moving can be done relatively safely right now, if you take some precautions. To help point you to the pitfalls, here are some common coronavirus-related moving mistakes to avoid.

1. Assuming a DIY move is safer than hiring help

Hiring movers can be pricey, costing between $600 and $1,700 for a move less than 100 miles away, according to HomeAdvisor. Add the possibility that movers might be sick, and it might seem safer and smarter to go the DIY route.

True, renting a truck and rounding up a few friends or family to help you move may be cheaper—but it won’t necessarily be safer. For one, your friends and family might just likely be as sick as the movers. And odds are, professional movers should have the training and equipment (including gloves and face masks) to move things as safely as possible.

If you’re determined to move your possessions yourself, make sure to take all the same precautions. If you rent a moving truck, you’ll have to spend time cleaning it. Ask local truck rental offices about their process for sanitizing vehicles between customers, Glanz says.

Bring your own sanitation supplies to clean and wipe down the steering wheel, door handles, and any other high-touch areas. Use gloves when driving the truck and while opening and closing the back door and loading ramp.

And since the novel coronavirus can survive on surfaces, “I would recommend disinfecting the walls and floors of the truck before loading your items,” adds Justin Carpenter, owner of Modern Maids, a housecleaning service in Dallas and Austin, TX, specializing in move-in and move-out cleaning.

2. Not vetting your movers

If you do hire movers, you should vet them thoroughly. Glanz suggests checking to make sure a company is licensed and insured, for starters, and also checking for wording on companies’ websites about their commitment to sanitation and safety.

“That tells you they are taking their responsibility to everybody’s safety seriously,” Glanz says. “If a moving company has a history of positive, active interaction with customers, they’ll shine even brighter under tough circumstances.”

Make sure the moving company you use is taking extra steps to ensure safety during the coronavirus outbreak, including providing virtual rather than in-home estimates and no-contact options, according to AMSA.

3. Using recycled boxes and packing supplies

The novel coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, according to recent research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Using boxes and plastic bins that you already have on hand should be fine. But, if you need extra moving supplies, AMSA recommends purchasing new moving boxes and packing tape, and avoiding picking up free, recycled boxes from supermarkets and liquor stores.

Moving companies may also let you rent plastic bins, so be sure to wipe them down, inside and out, with disinfectant before packing your things.

4. Not prepping for your movers

Make sure you do what you can to pack and prep your boxes so they’re ready to go once the movers arrive. The reason: The less time spent moving your items means lower exposure risks.

“The faster a move can get done, the better and safer it is,” says Lior Rachmany, founder of Dumbo Moving and Storage in New York City.

This is also a decent argument to not DIY your move.

“The movers will do one straight transaction from point A to point B in less time than it takes the average person to do a DIY move,” Rachmany adds.

5. Moving in without deep cleaning first (and hiring help here, too)

Similar to hiring movers, hiring a professional cleaning service can be a cost-effective time saver, letting you focus on the move. A one-time housecleaning before moving into a new home averages $125 to $300, according to HomeAdvisor. And at a time like this, that may be money well-spent.

“A professional cleaning service already has years of experience cleaning hard-to-reach places or forgotten surfaces,” Glanz points out. “That comes in twice as handy now that it’s more important than ever to keep every touchable area cleaned.”

Before hiring a cleaning service, check online reviews and ask lots of questions.

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the products we use to clean and if we are taking any extra precautions,” Carpenter says. “Ask the company for recent references that have been served since shelter-in-place directives started rolling out. Call those customers and ask if they’d hire the service again.”

If you’re cleaning the place yourself, make sure to use products that actively disinfect and include ingredients such as sodium hypochlorite, ethanol, pine oil, hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, and quaternary ammonium compounds. And, don’t forget high-touch areas like doorknobs, light switches, faucets, and cabinet pulls.

Source: realtor.com

6 Surprising Things You Never Knew You Had to Do Before the Movers Arrive

Moving is stressful, so you’d be forgiven if after packing the last box you thought that you were finally done. Now it’s just time to wait for the movers to arrive, right?

Not exactly.

Working with professional movers is a great option for people making big moves, moving with kids, or moving large or fragile items that would be otherwise impossible to transport. But while many moving companies do a great job of providing end-to-end service, there are some things that only you can do to make the whole process run smoothly. Here’s our list of six surprising things you’ll need to do before the movers arrive in order to avoid disaster.

1. Make a clear path

Whether you live in an urban apartment or a two-story house in the country, there are bound to be obstacles for your movers. By anticipating these issues before they happen, you can make everyone’s job easier, and possibly even save some money by taking up less of the movers’ time.

First, you should consider the parking situation outside your home. Where will the movers be able to leave their truck when packing up your stuff? If you do have that house in the country, this might not be an issue. But if you’re living in an apartment or urban area, chances are good that a huge double-parked truck won’t be taken very kindly by the neighbors.

“If you live in an apartment building or if there is limited parking in your area, ask the movers if they will handle the logistics or if you need to do so,” says Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving.”

Some moving companies might be familiar with your neighborhood and know how to park in a way that doesn’t raise any red flags with the neighbors. But if they tell you they’d like your help with the logistics, then this will be on you to handle before they arrive.

“You may need to contact your building manager,” Wenzke says, “or the local city government to get the appropriate signage and allowances.”

There are other things to consider, too—like the state of your driveway.

Pat Byrne, operations manager of Long Island–based moving company Moving Ahead Moving & Storage, always asks clients to remove ice and snow to avoid any accidents during the move. You should also make sure the driveway and front access points are clear of debris—like kids’ or pet toys that might pose a slip hazard.

2. Make necessary reservations and get your paperwork together

Some apartment buildings might have service elevators available for use. This would be another time-saving question to ask your building manager in advance.

“See if service elevators can be reserved and whether the building needs any paperwork from movers—like a certificate of insurance,” says Byrne.

3. Protect your house, including your floors

To prevent damage to your house during the move, you should be aware of what furniture is going out the door, and anything fragile in its path that might be at risk of breaking.

“Lightbulbs, fixtures, pictures, mirrors, wall hangings should be removed from the main areas where furniture will be moved,” Byrne says.

And don’t forget about the hardwood floors. Nothing will put off a buyer more than seeing skid marks illustrating the path your sofa took out of the place.

“If you have hardwood floors or tile in any rooms, let your movers know ahead of time so they can prepare the right materials—and make sure your contract includes hardwood floor protection,” advises Miranda Benson, marketing coordinator at San Francisco–based moving company Dolly.

4. Measure!

On a related note, you’ll want to measure your furniture and make sure any large items will fit through the front door in the first place.

“Nothing is more heartbreaking than finding out the gorgeous sectional you spent hours assembling is not going to make it through your front door unless you spend more hours disassembling it,” Benson says.

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Watch: Who Would Have Guessed: Weird Packing Tips That Really Work

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5. Pack up the kids (and pets)

Not literally, of course. But you should take the time to consider where your family will be when the movers are at work. If paying for a space in the nearby pet hotel isn’t an option, at least consider keeping your pets in a safe space within your home.

“Pets should be kept in a room with everything they need that movers won’t need to access,” Byrne advises. “You’d want to do this even if your pet is friendly, to avoid [their] accidentally getting out of the house or injured.”

Similarly, young kids should also be kept out of the way on moving day. This is important for their safety as well as the safety of your moving team.

“The last thing you or your movers want to worry about is whether your 2-year-old’s scream is going to shock them at the wrong time,” Benson says.

6. Make yourself available

Once the family is out of the house, it’s time (drumroll, please) to sit down and relax—sort of. Find a central point in your home (that’s out of the movers’ way) and simply plan on making yourself available to them as they move your stuff.

Do we mean supervising their every move and reminding them the box is marked “fragile”? Probably not. But you should be around to help answer any questions, or alert movers to anything special they should know about your place.

“There are little things about your house that you only learn from living there: The hallway closet door never stays closed, the third step down has a slight bend, a pack of hornets tends to congregate around the back door, so use the front—these are all valuable things that make your movers’ lives easier,” Benson explains.

“On top of that, being available to answer questions, whether that’s in person or via phone, can make your move much smoother,” she adds.

Source: realtor.com