Essex Removal Company, A J Stephenson Removals

Welcome to my Blog Site...

My Company A J Stephenson Removals, are founding members of the National Guild of Removers and Storers, and are Ombudsman approved. With over 30 years experience in Removals and Storage I am happy to offer help and advice regarding any aspect of moving you may have. I have written a unique report on removals titled "The Top Ten Removals and Storage Disasters to Avoid"! which is Free and available from my website, or by following this link. I have reciently been awarded the `ACE` Award (Annual Certificate of Excellence) from the Guild, for our consistant customer satisfaction record.

I will post regular blogs regarding different aspects of moving, please follow me and you will recieve these updates as they are posted.

Please look at my website for help & advice and much more.

I Hope you enjoy my posts!

Thanks for your Interest. Alan Stephenson

Monday, 12 December 2011

Late Exchange. Have you got a `LEG` to stand on?

Late exchange of contracts is probably the most frustrating part of moving house, for both customer and removal company- The whole home removal process takes months of planning, involves a huge amount of stress and yet in the final week and even the last few days there often seems to be a delay in contracts being exchanged. There is no point trying to work out why this happens but it does seem to happen on an all too often basis.
For the removal company they usually need to confirm provisional bookings seven days before moving day by taking full payment. This enables them to plan the resources they require for the week ahead in an efficient and professional way.
(The danger of paying in full without having exchanged is running the risk of losing all or a percentage of the costs, if the date was to change or the move were to collapse. Some removal companies offer a postponement/cancellation waiver should something change in the last few days but only if the move has exchanged, we offer this service, along with other customer protection schemes.)

The customer needs to plan and arrange a whole host of things for moving day, so when the removal company calls for confirmation and payment the week before removal, if exchange hasn`t happened the stress levels are about to soar. So what happens next?

The remover in this event will either offer to wait an agreed period of time to give a chance to exchange contracts. Or offer a Late Exchange Guarantee `LEG`. (if they have it available) Without the `LEG` there is always a proviso that being- if another client that requires the same resources on the same day were to call and have exchanged contracts, then they would call their provisional client and give them the option to confirm by paying or to lose the date. This whole process benefits no-one, is messy and very stressful and so for that reason we have come up with the `LEG` this is how it works.

Subject to availability a `LEG` will be offered from the date of payment due, to an agreed date and time and will be subject to a charge of between 4%-5% of the removal fees plus VAT per day. Once agreed and accepted the payment would be taken for the `LEG` and a confirmation certificate would be sent by email to confirm the arrangement. See a typical example below

Mrs. Smith is due to pay for her £800 + VAT removal & packing service but has not exchanged contracts. She was told by her solicitor that exchange would happen the next day at about 11am. She doesn't want to pay for her move in full just in case she loses some or all of this money should she not exchange contracts. A `LEG` is agreed for 1 day to expire at 12noon the following day, this costs her £38.40 inc VAT and buys her time and more importantly removes the stress of potentially losing the date to someone else.

The risk for the remover is that if after the `LEG` is issued another booking comes in for that day that has exchanged contracts and needs to know immediately if it can be done. The remover would have to say that that slot is held and may only become available when the `LEG` has expired. This may not be acceptable to them and they may go elsewhere. In the meantime the client with the `LEG` may come back the next day and say the exchange has not happened and the move needs to go back a week. The remover will end up with nothing.

Unless legislation can be improved to lengthen the exchange and completion gap the `LEG` seems to be for now the best alternative.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Im Moving House, do I pack the drawers?

One of the most common questions we get in the office is "do I need to empty the drawers?" This question is asked almost on a daily basis. So I have put together below the different cases for and against packing the drawers. There is of course a way to avoid this dilemma and that is to get your removal company to pack for you, this will pass the dilemma back to them (along with many other issues), leaving you to focus on the more important things! Our packing service is unique in the area, our packing girls & boys will either just pack the fragile items or will carry out a full service where they finish off by making the beds and hoovering up. You can tailor make the service you require.
The other advantage of having the packing done for you is that we generally do it the day before you move so your not surrounded by boxes for weeks before, your fully insured and you havn`t got to worry that you have done it correctly. I have written an industry unique report on removals and storage called "The Top Ten Removals and Storage Disasters to avoid"  which has a chapter all about the pros and cons of packing, follow this link to read it- Chapter 5 "packing and packing materials"
Back to drawers- The most common drawers are Chest of drawers, however there are lots of other drawer types with different methods of moving. listed below are the main types.

Solid chest of drawers- generally you can leave the drawers loaded as long as its just clothes or bedding etc, if the chest is too heavy the crew can take out drawers if they need to.
Chipboard chest of drawers - Generally you will need to pack the drawer contents as the weight may put pressure on the cabinet joints and may collapse.
Dressing tables-  Generally the same as above however there needs to be extra care required especially if the two sides of the dressing table are poorly bridged. A tip for carrying dressing tables that are weak is to carry them upside down with the drawers taken out.
Divan Beds- you need to pack the contents of the bed drawers as the bed will be stored on its end on the lorry and smaller items will fall out, also it will be to heavy. The only exception to this rule is for large bulky items such as duvets.
Desks- By definition the drawer contents will be paperwork and stationary and therefore need to be packed. You can if you really want leave the contents in, if the drawer can be removed during transit. If you know in advance that you want to leave the drawers packed due to a filing system etc, you could put a carrier bag over the drawer and then tape the contents in.
Filing cabinets- If the cabinet is being moved from ground floor to ground floor you can generally leave the contents in as the cabinet can be put on a sack barrow. If the cabinet is being moved up steps you will need to pack the contents, unless the drawers come out.
Wall units/Sideboards- Unless the contents are fragile you can usually leave the drawers packed.

As with all the above there are 2 important issues to remember, firstly if you unpack drawers unnecessarily you will be increasing the volume of the load and this may have a bearing on moving and storage costs, and secondly you may be making work for yourself.

If you have any questions or queries about any of your drawers or anything else for that matter, just give our friendly office a call on 01277 653268 or visit our website and read our removal moving guide which gives invaluable information for your removal preparation.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

What happens when the Removal lorry is too big?

Horses for courses is a very good motto when it comes to the subject of access for large vehicles. We receintly carried out a domestic removal from Billericay to Chard in Somerset, which in itself is nothing out of the ordinary. However, on this occasion when the lorry arrived at the lane they needed to deliver in, there was no way it would fit!
The crew found the house but it was about a quarter of a mile down the lane! What now?
Under normal circumstances when the move is arranged these problems are discussed but our customer was renting and didn`t know the exact property. We quoted based on reasonable access, this was obviously not that. The other point is how does a customer know if the vehicle will fit or not?
There was no point in playing the blame game there was a lorry to unload, and a big one at that!
The first person to arrive at the scene said "you wont get up there with that!" -useful info!  The second was a plumber in a van who after being questioned by the crew said he knew someone that may be able to help, someone who does removals and has a small van. He would give him a call and let us know.
We were going to have to trans-ship the load! For this operation to be a success it needed to be just the right van, big enough so there are not too many shuttle runs, but not too big, for obvious reasons!

The crew waited and pondered their dilemma. Shortly after the plumbers call, Matt called and said "this is your knight in shining armour!" Matt`s company (O & H Removals of Chard-Somerset) turned out to be a reputable remover in the area who knew the lane we were in, and said he was on his way.  That's what you call a result!
Not only was his van was perfect for the job, but he got there quick. The next problem was the trans-ship area, no problem, luckily there was a club/pub at the end of the lane and the owner agreed to us using the far side of his car park to use. I don't think we were the first to need it. He even came out with a cup of tea for the crew!
Perry Street Club-Chard

When you trans-ship it involves carefully unloading the host lorry into the shuttle van, using the care and attention you would in a standard move, this takes time, it also requires a clever strategy to ensure the van is being constantly used to shuttle. This was achieved and the move was completed albeit delayed by about 3 hours.

The trans-ship In progress.

There were only 4 trips required, it could have been far worse, especially if he turned up in a panel van. Steve and Dan even got into the spirit by taking up a few items themselves-

Finally I would like to thank O & H removals and also the staff at the Perry Street Club for their help in our hour of need.  I don't think the customer was aware of how bad the situation could have been if we hadn't had the help we received.
The story could have had a nasty twist as Matt's wife was due to give birth any time so he may have had to shoot off at any time! I'm sure the crew would have tried to persuade him to leave his van! 
Hope it all went well Matt.


Monday, 13 June 2011

With so many packing options available when moving house, why consider packing yourself?

When moving house many people will consider having professionals pack for them. This is a very sensible decision as it is an extremely hard and backbreaking job, that can often overwhelm you   especially towards the end.  It’s usually too late when people realise they have made a mistake.
Packing your house up into boxes is an extremely skilled job and very hard work, items will be  uninsured if you find there are a few breakages when you unpack.
 One of the main problems of packing yourself is that you will find that you need to leave large amounts of packing until the last few days such as kitchen and bedroom items. This poses a problem as you will invariably run out of time and possibly packing materials as well. Your removers will not take kindly to being greeted by half filled boxes and a delay waiting for the last items to be packed. They may even charge you additional fees for any delays as a result. In our unique moving report “the top ten removals and storage disasters to avoid” chapter 5 about packing illustrates this in great detail.
Some of our packers- Jane,Julie,Wendy & Lisa.

If on the other hand you opt for a packing service, you will usually be faced with 2 options- Full packing and glass and china packing. We are in an enviable position where we can offer a much wider range of options to suit most needs. Listed below are the packing options we provide and a brief summary of what’s included.
Standard Full Pack -Packing all household items into boxes & bags.
Premium Full pack -As above plus garage, shed and curtains if required.
Standard China & Glass Pack -All china Glass items including everyday china, cookware, lamps, pictures & mirrors.
Premium Glass & China  -As  above but with the kitchen and utility included.
Standard Unpack -Boxes & bags unpacked onto surfaces or floor, and removal of old packing materials.
Premium Unpacking -As above but including placing of items to customer specification, making beds and hovering up!

So for example if you find that you are too busy to move you could book yourself into a hotel for a couple of days leaving instructions and a key with our head packer and leave the rest to us.  You won’t even have to make the bed when you go home to your new house!
This is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is more common than you would think. Some people are just happy to have some help and choose to have a standard china & glass pack benefitting from the added insurance protection that’s is included.
For information on any of our packing services visit our website for information on our packing services.
(If you think you have the right qualities to join our friendly packing crew please apply on our removal jobs page using our application form.)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Where have the removal boxes gone?

For many years people moving themselves could find cardboard boxes at a number of places most commonly supermarkets. Due to environmental  legislation these companies need to be seen to re-cycle more and as a result do not have as many cardboard boxes available for people to collect. This subject is explained in depth by  in their recent blog "should you pay for removal boxes? "
There are many box providers in the UK today and a large number of these are self storage sites. In their blog post mention that a typical medium box can cost anything between £2.90 and £4.34, quite a price variation. Our boxes in comparison are £2.75 for a med box and as low as £2.39 if you buy 10 or more, furthermore they are boxes that are used in the removals industry and are extremely strong. It is worth asking if the boxes you are thinking of buying on line or from a self store site are single or double walled, and if they are double walled if they are strong. Our boxes can be used more than once as they are so robust. 
We sell a wide range of packing materials from our shop next to Billericay Railway station or you can buy direct from our on line store Essex Removal Boxes as long as the delivery address is in Essex.

See our shop prices below and our online prices (Which has some special offers for void fill and wardrobe cartons)

All these products are used in the removals industry and therefore will be all you need. It is worth mentioning that a professional removal company will supply all the packing materials you need and this is an important factor to consider when you are thinking whether to move yourself or not. There are many other problems with moving yourself and they are outlined in great detail  in chapter 10 of our moving report - "The Top Ten Removal & Storage Disasters to Avoid" and would be worth looking at if you are undecided wether to move yourself or employ a professional. Follow this link to see the chapter "if nothing else remember this one!
The trend for increased cardboard prices and availability will continue and the desire to find a solution to meet peoples budget will remain. This is one reason why a professional removal company that is accredited would be the best option when moving house, if you decide you want to move yourself then at least make sure that the boxes you buy are as strong as possible.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Do you want to pay for your house removal twice? No? Then read this first.

Like most things in life, unforeseen charges are really annoying, especially when they are out of your control. Take for example the additional costs that you could incur if your flight was cancelled because of striking air traffic controllers, and the next flight costs you double the original flight.
Or when you find you have to pay your solicitors fees for someone else's incompetence.  There are many examples of this and in most instances Insurance can offer the solution to the problem.
The removals industry is no exception, particularly so, as you are often relying on other people involved, there are usually estate agents, solicitors, banks and bureaucracy to contend with as well as local councils, surveyors and government departments. You can see how there is the potential for a last minute hold up or disaster!
In most cases your solicitor will ensure that the removal date is agreed and fixed and once exchange of contracts has taken place this is usually so. However, there are unforeseen scenarios that can change the date or even cancel it all together. 
Once you have exchanged contracts it is usually assumed that the date agreed is definite, but there are occasions where this is not always the case. Take for example the possibility that someone in the chain is taken seriously ill or injured a few days before the removal day, and are physically not able to prepare in time for the agreed date, the completion day may need to be put back a week or so. Or that someone in the chain changes their mind and is prepared to loose their deposit rather than go ahead with the move. Or there is a bereavement and the probate will complicate things and will also involve a delay. There are many other unlikely reasons why the move could be postponed or cancelled but the point is they are there. Most people don't ever have a problem but for some it can be very costly indeed. Most removers will have postponement and cancellation fees in place. Some companies are allot tougher than others and it is always important to find out what they are before entering into a contract.

A typical example would be as follows- (some will charge higher percentages over longer periods of time)

Cancellation Postponement fees- from Removal day.
4-7 Days Notice   50% of Total Fee`s
3  Days Notice     75% of Total Fee`s
1-2 Days notice    90% of Total Fee`s
Less than 24hrs   100% of Total Fee`s

So  as you could imagine these costs could be considerable, and although you could claim the costs from the party involved it may be a difficult process to obtain compensation.  So if for a small fee you could cover these costs should they arise, would you take the chance?  Well it all comes down to the type of person you are, but I would strongly suggest you consider it, as it could well pay in the long run. Especially when you consider how stressful the whole moving experience can be, and particularily if your the type of person that thinks that if anything could go wrong it will for me!

It is important to remember this cover is only if your move is agreed and contracts have been exchanged or the rental papers have been signed and accepted. Its not available if the move date is provisional and you haven't exchanged contracts.
This cover is not to be confused with the `Waiting Time Charges Waiver` which covers you on the removal day for charges you may incur if there is a delay in the release of your keys.

Monday, 7 March 2011

What protection can you expect when moving house?

Protection can mean several things. Protection from rouge removers, protecting you with insurance or  physical protection of your furniture and property.  Ill cover the latter in this post.

Moving house is probably one of the most stressful things you can ever do in your life, it can also be one of the most expensive! People employ professionals throughout the whole moving process from Estate Agents, Solicitors, Home Stagers, Mortgage Brokers and Surveyors to Builders, Plumbers, Security companies  and carpet fitters and cleaners. Only the best? Of coarse! but why do some people try and save a bit of money on the most important part of it all- Looking after your cherished items on moving day?  You've got expensive, sofas TV`s Mattresses etc etc so why do people use unregulated removers or man and van services just to save a few quid? When in reality they are just setting themselves up for a potential nightmare!.

Sorry don't mean to go off on one! but seriously when you ask someone to move you from A-B, everything in your home, pack it up and put it all on a lorry and then move it into your new home, you can imagine that if not done correctly they could end up causing allot of damage if not handled correctly.

The first thing to do is pick an accredited remover either British association of Removers or National Guild of Removers and Storers Ltd (These are the only two). Preferably that have been recommended to you, but certainly have been established for several years and have testimonials available. The next thing to do is ask what protection they will offer for your furniture and property.

Most professional removal companies will have the following:-

Covers for your Doors, Bannister's and Carpets. 
Sofa and Armchair Covers 
Hanging Garment Carriers  
Mattress Covers
Dining Table and Chair Covers
Wide screen TV covers
Piano Covers

Dining Table Cover


Sofa and Armchair Covers

Wide screen TV Cover

As well as all these specialist covers there will be hundreds of Removal Blankets to protect anything else.

When Moving House you want to cover as many bases as possible, ask about these type of covers when getting quotes, it may save you lots of upset later on! 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Paying for a removal and packing service? What`s left for you to do?

 Deciding to let your remover do the packing aswell as the moving is a really good idea. The advantages of this are many but there is still lots for you to do.
If you are moving direct from house to house locally there are less considerations than if you are moving overseas with a term in storage.
By deciding to have the packing done for you, you can focus on other things such as de-cluttering.
Spend the time before the packers arrive to dispose of unwanted items you dont want in the new house. There are several methods to achieve this:-

Dump rubbish- Take to recycle centre or civil amenity site, or hire a skip if there is a large amount. A tip here is to always get a larger skip than you think you need as it will work out cheaper than getting a second smaller skip. (and theres usually more than you think!) We use Ahern Skips who cover the whole of Essex.
Unwanted furniture- There are several ways of dealing with these items, either break up and skip, arrange for the council to collect (they will usually charge a small fee and you will need to leave the items on the boundary of the property.) They will usually only take a few items, (Handy if its an old sofa and cooker!)  Talk to your remover about this, they may well offer to carry them out for you. Or consider a charity shop or if its valuable an auction. We reccommend Lighthouse charity and Chelmsford Auction Rooms.  Many people also use ebay and Freecycle as another way of disposing of items.
Brick a brack-  Smaller items such as books toys china etc are always welcome in your local charity shop, or if you want to make some money why not try Ebay or why not do a garage sale this can be a lot of fun and a way of getting the kids involved and poss earning some additional pocket money!

Now you've disposed of unwanted items you can focus on all the things you need to do In preparation for moving see our Removal Guide for info on what you need to do. You may have decorating or building work planned for the new house so you may be interested in taking advantage of a Mobile Self Storage option which will solve this problem, or if you don't want to lift the items yourself arrange with  your remover to store it for you.
 When its a few days to go make sure that you know where you want things to go. For example you may want the study items currently in Bedroom 4, put in an outbuilding at the new house. (You don`t want to find all your files are in a bedroom when you need them outside). If there is a difference of locations label the room or leave instructions, as the packers can only label where items have come from not where they are going to.
Finally the day your packers arrive allocate areas where you can accumulate items you don't want packed, I recommend on the beds for clothes bags & essentials (as the packers will not pack the bedding being used, until the moving day!) one bathroom/ en suite for toiletries and an area of the kitchen work surface for other essentials such as kettle, bottle sterilizer chargers etc..  Make sure you have remembered to separate important items such as medicines, keys & paperwork required at short notice. Make sure you keep aside any floor plans or instructions for the removers.
When the packers arrive show them the areas that you have allocated for the items that are not to be packed and then leave them to it!
By now you have probably had your decision to get a packing service confirmed, and if you have also asked the removers to do the dismantling you have nothing left to do, except Relax!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

What is a waiting time charges waiver? And why do you need it?

When moving home you may come across one of these. The whole reason for their existence is because the completion day process is so outdated.
When you buy a new property you could well find there is a delay in the money being transferred through the chain especially if you are some way along. This can be very frustrating as you have waited so long for your new property and after weeks of legal work there is still a delay in releasing keys on the day!
This whole scenario is one that has dogged the removals industry for years and caused stress and expense for many people for many years, but why does it happen?
Once Exchange of contracts has taken place the move is certain and a completion day is fixed, at this time you can confirm the day with your remover. Hopefully prior to that you have provisionally booked this date as you may find that your chosen remover is booked. (see my previous post- "What is the best day for moving house?" )  At that point all the contracts are in order, all the lending has been agreed the searches and surveys complete so it is just a simple task of sending the money through the chain so everyone can move in. Sounds simple?  It should be but for some reason there is usually a delay in the money being released from the first time buyer and further delays from solicitor to solicitor. With today's technology and instant bank transfers this should all be done in a matter of minutes!!  Unless anyone can explain to me the logical reason for this I am going to put it down to the interest the banks & solicitors gain from having large sums on deposit for short lengths of time. There can be no other reason for it, as all the donkey work has been done weeks before.
This is where the waiting time charges waiver can be very useful as you pay an upfront fee (usually between £30-£50) and it will cover you against waiting time charges your remover may charge you. We typically charge £20 per staff member per hour or part thereof after 2pm. So for example if we are all ready to unload outside your new house before 2pm and have 3 crew members present and you finally arrive with the keys at 3.30pm you would be liable for an additional £120 + VAT. (4.20pm would be £180 + VAT) If you have taken out the waiver this would be covered.
We always clearly put our charges on our quotes and offer a waiver, however, some removers are not so open so its a good idea to find out the companies policy for waiting time and preferably get it in writing if it isn't clearly stated in the terms and conditions. For more info on this subject and other problems associated with the small print see number 8 of my report "The Top Ten Removals and Storage Disasters to avoid!"

I hope that has explained what a waiting time charges waiver is and why you may need it. Please remember it is only applicable if you are buying a house and not renting or moving into store.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Packing for house staging.

Kat MacKinnon at Home Miracles requested a topic for this post-  "System to pack your stuff to be stored away, so that it is easy to find and access an item if needed"

House staging is becoming increasingly popular in today's housing market. Sellers are looking at ways of creating an impression in the minds eye of potential buyers. This technique is important when there is a shortage of buyers but also in the opposite market where better sale prices can be achieved.
In a previous post "is Mobile Self Storage the best house staging tool?" I described how mobile self Storage can be used to store effects for staging with minimal hassle for the customer, however, the difficulty can often be what to store?
The most common items to be stored are items of furniture with associated effects to create a feeling of space or to change a study/ dining room to an additional bedroom.
less obvious items are harder to judge and may require some professional advice on selecting personal effects that could be packed to create an impact. There is a home staging workshop in Basildon on Monday 17/1/11 , which may give you some really helpful ideas.
Once you have identified the items you want to store you will need some packing materials which can be purchased from our office in Billericay. You will also need to work to a system that will simplify the retrieval of items should you need to do so.
The obvious thing to do is label the box with its contents or number it, and keep a detailed inventory, being careful not to loose it!  Whether you are storing in a storage room or in a mobile self storage unit it would be advisable to identify the most likely items that you may need returned and keep them in the most accessible place. It would be a good idea to scan any inventories and keep an on line copy as well as a hard copy.

If you are not sure about the external storage option you could  pack and store in your loft, shed or garage being mindful of the possibility of damp. Many removal companies will offer advice on packing and supply packing materials, it may be the best option if you don't want to do the hard work yourself.