As a professional furniture restorer I have seen so many mistakes made by unknowing customers who have moved out of one home and into another. Believe me, I like to get work repairing and refinishing furniture for my business, but I do hate to see beautiful furniture mishandled and damaged, sometimes irreparably. Here are five ways to make sure your furniture arrives in your new home in the same condition it left your old home.
1) Start with a written and photographic inventory of your possessions. It doesn’t have to be all of your things, but definitely do this with your better pieces. I suggest taking an inventory of items that are of significant value or difficult to replace — such as antiques, art collections, jewelry, wills, stock certificates, photos, home videos, etc. Shipping valuable items via Certified Mail or Federal Express and personally moving them are options to consider. I highly recommend that you do a walk-through inspection with the moving company representative using this inventory and noting the condition and any existing damage. The professional term is a “condition report.” It’s like when you rent a car and they do a “walk around” inspection with you. Using a digital camera makes it easy to copy the pictures to your computer, a flash drive or a disk for safe keeping.
2) This is also a good time to make the moving company aware of your more valuable items and perhaps have a replacement value cost documented. If you are a collector of antique or vintage items I would even recommend that you call a professional appraiser to do either a summary appraisal stating the replacement cost, or in the least an approximation of value. You may already have these figures if your insurance company has scheduled these items separately on your personal property policy. This may sound like a bit of work, but it really won’t take too long and will save you so much trouble and heartache if you do have a damage or loss claim.
3) As for choosing a moving company to use, the best way is by a recommendation from someone you know and trust. Nothing is better than a good report on the professional care and service a mover gave to a friend. Otherwise ask for references that you can call for their testimonial. I have heard some horror stories about how unprofessional and ill-mannered movers showed up the day of the move and did not do as they promised, causing much concern, anxiety and outright damage.
4) If the moving company representative isn’t able to handle antiques and higher end items to your satisfaction you can use them for the bulk of your possessions and hire a mover who specializes in antiques and fine art. This is so important when dealing with your best items and the additional expense is warranted. I have seen too many beautiful items of antique furniture damaged by an inexperienced mover. Yes, it can usually be repaired or even refinished if needed, but it does compromise the originality of the item and will impact the value.
5) One final suggestion that you may think excessive, but believe me it is not, is to ask for the movers (and maybe yourself also) to inspect the interior of the empty moving van once all of your items are unloaded and in your new home. I know of more than a few instances where a piece of furniture molding, hardware or worse a whole item was “lost” in the move. Many times the part went unnoticed and ends up in the trash back at the warehouse. I have even heard of a whole piece of furniture being lost, never to be found!
I know that if you take these above steps when involved in a household move, you will be rewarded with seeing all your beloved possessions in the condition you expected them to be in when you settle into your new home. It may deny my business and other restorers work, but I’d rather see you with a happy ending to your move rather than another horror story.
If you find that you did get any furniture damaged from a move or from any other "unhappy event" please give me a call at 860-350-6410 or send me an email to Bill@oakleyrestoration.com and I will come and give you a FREE evaluation and repair estimate.