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21st Century Solutions For Not Being Hit With Extra Charges At Your New Home

in Advice, Moving Costs, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Even the most diligent moving consultant can miss one giant piece of the puzzle, the new home. While in most cases, the new home shouldn’t add much to the moving price, there are circumstances where the unknowns can add up. There are ways to avoid any sort of extra charges.

Long carry

When you receive a moving estimate, don’t be surprised if you get some questions about the distance from where the truck can park to the front door. If it’s longer than say, 100 feet, you are charged extra based on the amount of stuff you have. If it’s a local move, it will add to the number of hours.

Stairs

Movers don’t specifically charge more for stairs inside the home, but if there is more than one flight of stairs to get to the front door, you will pay extra. Even if the stairs are inside the home, it could require an extra mover and it will certainly add to the time.

Obstructions

People don’t give much thought to the obstructions that might impede a move. For example, my home has shrubbery next to the front walk that could prevent movers from carrying big items through. Fortunately, there’s a quick workaround in my yard, but that’s not always true. If you can’t clear your new home of obstructions, you should at least notify your mover so they can prepare.

Shuttle

Shuttles are typically only a factor in long-distance moves, but they are very costly. Most interstate moves are performed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer. Some homeowner’s associations have rules against tractor-trailers. If your new home is on a winding or hilly road, it’s often physically impossible for a truck to get through. Shuttles can add a shocking amount to the move, and for good reason. There is a lot of labor involved.

Every time a shuttle is needed, the movers have to call in another truck, often a rental. Then, all of the items are transferred from the big truck to the smaller one before the movers finally unload the contents of the smaller truck into the new home.

Storage

If your new home isn’t ready for delivery at the time the movers are ready to deliver, they will charge you for storage, often by the day. If your goods need more than a day or two of storage, the mover will charge you for unloading the truck, and then when you’re ready for delivery, loading it.

How to avoid extra charges at delivery

No one wants that hit of extra and unexpected charges. That’s how a good company can get a bad reputation, often through no fault of their own. Fortunately, there are advantages now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. Take your moving estimator on a virtual tour of your new home through your smartphone, laptop or tablet. Show them where a truck might park, how your front door is accessed and whether there are stairs.

Save money by letting your movers know in advance that your new home won’t be ready. Many movers offer one month of storage for free or at a dramatic discount, as long as they can store at their home base. Things get very expensive for the mover, and for you if they have to rent storage space.

Featured image via Pexels.

How To Pick A House That Will Work For You And Your Pets

in Advice by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

House hunting in the Bay Area is all about compromise. You want two baths, but everything in your price range has one. You’d love an open concept home, but none are in your price range. One place you can’t skimp, though, is on your furry friends. If the house won’t work for them, it will be miserable for you.

How to pick a house for your pets

It might seem weird to pick a house with your pets in mind, but think about it. If the house isn’t pet friendly, you will end up spending a lot of time and energy and possibly heartbreak making up for the fact that your new home just isn’t pet friendly.

1. Make sure your pets are legal

When you buy, you expect that your pets are no one’s business, but most municipalities have limits on numbers and kinds of pets. Many HOAs have size limits and at some condo and townhouse complexes don’t allow pets at all. Be sure to check before signing any papers.

2. Make sure the yard is ready

Do you have a yard? Most dogs like to use grassy areas to relieve themselves. Often a small patch will do, as long as you are diligent about cleaning it up. Are there thorny or poisonous plants? Is there a fence and does the fence have holes? Is the gate secure?

3. Are the streets busy?

When moved from a relatively remote area to a busy street. Our indoor/outdoor cat is still adjusting to being a strictly indoor cat, but he’s safe. Be sure your neighborhood is safe for pets or don’t let them outside unless in your backyard or on a leash.

4. Does your house have stairs?

If you have an elderly dog, especially a large elderly dog, stairs could be a problem. Even if you have a young dog who’s too big for you to lift, you might avoid stairs. Most dogs have trouble with stairs once they reach a certain age.

5. Is the home set up for your pets?

If you have a large dog, you want to make sure that you can arrange the furniture so you have planned of room to walk around and so that your dog will have plenty of room to roam. If you have a cat, you will want to make sure there are places for litter boxes and for a cat tree. Even small dogs need a feeding and comfortable sleeping area.

6. Does your home have carpet

Carpet and pets are not always the best fit. Pets are notorious for staining carpets, and sometimes dogs will mark new homes while you’re not looking. Once a urine stain makes it through the carpet pad, it’s almost impossible to remove. Cats can be even more destructive to carpets. Even if you keep their claws trimmed and give them plenty of places to scratch, they can still scratch up your carpet.

Featured image via Pexels.

The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Stuff Before You Move

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

If Americans are good at anything, it’s acquiring stuff, and when you’re moving, it means dealing with years, if not decades of acquired stuff, much of which hasn’t been touched in a very long time.

If you haven’t used or worn something for a year or two, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself if you really want to move it. Why should you, the more stuff needs to be moved, the more you’ll pay…sort of.

Allow me to explain. If you’re moving long-distance, you pay buy weight, so the less you have to move, the lighter the weight. If you’re moving locally, you pay by time. A handful of boxes here and there won’t make a noticeable difference on time, but if you are doing a major purge, you will definitely save money. More importantly, a purge is a way to give yourself a fresh start, and isn’t that part of what moving is about?

What are the best ways to get rid of stuff?

When purging, there are basically three options: sell them, donate them or throw them away.

Sell your items

When selling goods, there are a few ways to go. There are several apps where you can list your goods. Even Facebook now has a Marketplace. Tip: If you go the route of directly selling goods to strangers, bring a friend. You can also sell through Ebay.

Direct sales might bring in more money, but it’s potentially risky and it’s time consuming, and if you are moving, you probably don’t have a lot of extra time. Another option is to sell through consignment sites and consignment stores. You’ll do best consigning if your goods are relatively high-end and in very good condition. Regardless, never try to sell stained or torn items.

Donate your items

You won’t get money for your old goods if you decide to donate them, but you can get a decent tax deduction. Here’s a great article on some of the most common donation charities. You might prefer a more local option as well. Even when donating, make sure your items are in good condition.

Dispose of your items

For the items that aren’t in good condition, or things like old mattresses, disposing might be the only sanitary option. Call your local municipality or your local trash company. Most have available bulk item pickups.

Featured image via Unnar Ymir Björnsson/Flickr.

How To Prepare Your Home Office For A Move

in Advice, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

It’s one thing to haphazardly throw your clothes in a box. The worst that might happen is some wrinkles. When it comes to your home office, though, a little organization now will save you weeks of headaches and it will get you up and running in the quickest amount of time possible.

If your home office’s organizational system needs a little improvement, like mine, now is the time to organize it.

1. File, shred, scan or do something with every single piece of paper

If you don’t own a good diamond cut shredder, buy one. Create files for taxes, for insurance, for investments, for credit cards, for utilities, for your home, for pets, for medical files, etc. A good filing system will make your life so much easier in the future. HGTV has some great hacks for creating a good system.

If you don’t need to keep the originals, and even if you do, it’s always wise to scan important papers and store them on an external hard drive. Separate out the really important papers like house deeds, car titles, Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc. Move those yourself.

2. Label all cords

If you’re like most people, you have a drawer full of charging cords and no idea where they go. One is probably from that 2007 flip phone. It’s time to go through every cord. If it matches an item, label it with a sharpie and a bread tag. If it doesn’t, take it to an electronics recycling facility or to a store like Best Buy.

3. Back up your hard drive

There are several cloud and external hard drive options. Many prefer the latter for security, but the cloud has the advantage of being indestructible and you can’t lose it. If you back everything up to an external hard drive, take it with you.

4. Disassemble your electronics

Electronics are one of the items we typically recommend that movers pack, but if you do decide to pack electronics, first disassemble them. Label the cords just like the cords above. If you have the original boxes, those are always preferable, but if you don’t, you can purchase boxes from your mover. Here are some tips.

If you have any questions or you need some help packing your home office, Ninja Movers is here for you.

What To Do If Your New House Has A Bunch Of Hidden Problems

in Advice, Real Estate by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

With our housing boom, home buyers don’t have a lot of clout in today’s market. Unfortunately, to purchase a home, many buyers have to forgo protections like home inspections before purchase.

That doesn’t mean that if you don’t have an inspection, you have no rights. In most cases, it is the seller’s obligation to disclose major problems like with foundations, roofs, mold and pests. If a seller neglected to tell you about a major problem, you might be able to sue, but you might not.

Home sellers are required to give truthful information about home defects they know or should have known about. Most states, including California, do require home sellers to complete several disclosure forms describing their homes’ general condition. Home sellers can never deliberately withhold from potential buyers knowledge about their homes’ condition that could later pose problems, such as lead paint or termites. However, homes in states such as California are also presumed to be sold “as-is.”

Source: SF Gate

Even if your home purchase was an exception to the disclosure low (such as a foreclosure, a family transfer, a judgement, etc.), you can ask the seller to fix the problems, although you could risk them saying no and you could risk them rejecting your offer.

The best tactic might be to hire an inspector anyway. Factor anything the inspector finds into the offer, even with the competitive market. If you can’t afford to fix a home’s major problems, it’s not the home for you anyway.

Another tactic is to wait on what you can. If the roof still has a couple of years on it, or if the plumbing only clogs occasionally, you can gamble that the real estate market will continue to rise and that you can take out a home equity loan to fix the problems. If, however, the safety and integrity of your home is at stake (such as with foundation or electrical issues), it may be best to move on.

If you’re already living in the home, though, you are probably stuck because in California, homes are sold as-is. If you sell, you will have to disclose the problems to future buyers though. Some repairs might be delayed by hiring a handyman. For example, a foundation issue might just need a French drain. A roof might just need patches, as might some pipes. Even electrical issues could have bandaid fixes, but be careful.

Six Things You Should Never, Ever Have A Moving Company Move

in Advice, Posts, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

When you hire a moving company, you have a right to expect a lot. A good moving company is expert at moving everything from basic furniture to priceless antiques; from framed posters to masterpieces. There are some things, though, that you should never have your movers take with them.

Image via <a href=

Pixabay,” width=”960″ height=”725″ class=”size-large wp-image-10223″ /> Image via Pixabay,

Valuable Papers

Experts always recommend that in case of fire or natural disaster, always take your valuable, irreplaceable papers with them, if at all possible. The same holds true when you move. While your movers can be trusted, papers like deeds, car titles, birth certificates and social security cards are far too valuable to trust with anyone. More importantly, moving insurance doesn’t cover the loss of valuable documents.

Image via <a href=

Pixnio” width=”960″ height=”636″ class=”size-large wp-image-10221″ /> Image via Pixnio

Expensive Jewelry

As with valuable papers, moving insurance does not cover valuable jewelry. If something is important enough for you to lock up, move it yourself.

Imagine via Pixabay,

Imagine via Pixabay.

Guns

While technically movers can move unloaded guns, loaded guns are out of the question. It’s simply best to move firearms yourself.

Image via Pixabay.

Image via Pixabay.

Plants

Moving trucks are a horrible environment for plants. They are hot and dry and they get absolutely no light. While plants might survive a short trip, they can be surprisingly expensive to move. Moving trucks are meant for stacking and you can’t stack plants. It’s also difficult to prop up plants without packing the pots in boxes.

Image via Wikimedia.

Image via Wikimedia.

Pets

For most people, it goes without saying that they should make other arrangements to transport pets, but you’d be surprised at how many customers ask that movers take their non-furry friends like fish, snakes and lizards. Moving trucks don’t have a lot of air and they can get very hot. Move all pets, including the non-furry kinds, yourself.

Image via Wikimedia.

Image via Wikimedia.

Flammables, Explosives and Corrosives

Leave your cleaning fluids, paint and your propane tanks behind, recycle them or move them in your car.

Featured image via Pixabay.

All The Best Ways To Keep In Touch With Your Old Friends; Some May Surprise You

in Advice, Long-Distance moving by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

In the age of social media, being able to keep in touch with old friends is easier than ever, but is it the best way?

Four_girls_friends_001

A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend (I’ll call her Amy) who’s a relatively new transplant to the area. Amy mentioned that she began friending most of her old friends and neighbors from 2,000 miles away. Surprisingly, she said, it depressed her because their posts only seemed to indicate how little her absence has changed their lives, while she feels like she is starting all over again.

I told Amy that people only tend to post happy moments on Facebook, so no matter how much they were missing her, it may not be evident on their Facebook profiles. So I began asking myself, what is a better way to keep in touch with old friends you may have left behind?

Social Media

Facebook is actually tailor made to keep in touch with old friends, but if you want to even try to mimic the feeling of being with your friends, it’s better to create a group rather than just follow their feeds. In the group, you can exchange memories and private jokes. You can get personal in a way that you never could on a public profile. Other social media platforms may allow you to have a group discussion, but I still prefer Facebook groups, for no other reason than that they are easier to follow.

Texting

Creating a text thread is less personal than a phone call, but it’s far easier to gather groups of friends. Drop them texts in real time as interesting things happen in your life.

Skype, Facetime, etc.

Once again, thank technology for letting you see your friends, instead of just hearing their voices or reading their digital messages.

Letters

If you can’t remember the last time you wrote or received a letter, you’re not alone, but it’s a great way to spend time collecting your thoughts and it’s a great way to tell a friend that not only are you thinking about them, you’re willing to spend the time proving it.

Journaling

This one wasn’t my idea:

If you’re anything like me, you were obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in your middle school years. You know how the traveling journal works. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about four best friends who find a pair of jeans that fit all of them. To keep in touch, they wrote in a journal about their adventures while wearing the pants, then mailed the journal and the pants to each other. This is perhaps the most creative way to keep in touch long distance. Since it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find one pair of pants that fits you and your friends, though, sticking to the traveling journal will work. Set an amount of time for each person in the group to keep the journal. When your time is up, mail it to the next person. You can write entries about your life in the journal, doodle, and write comments on other people’s entries!

Source: MissMillMag

Go On Vacation

A group vacation beats normal day-to-day interactions any day.

Visit

Of course.

How are you keeping in touch with your old friends?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

When NOT To Move With A Moving Company – Even When You May Want To

in Advice, Local moving, Posts by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

It might sound weird to talk about not moving with a moving company — on a moving company’s blog — but for some people, moving with a moving company may not be the best choice.

When not to hire a moving company.

For the vast majority of people, hiring a moving company saves time, money (your time is worth money) and backs, but for a handful of people, moving yourself is the answer.

If you’re young and your best piece of furniture is an IKEA hand-me-down (not that there’s anything wrong with IKEA), it may not be worth paying professionals to move it.

If you just have a few boxes to ship, don’t hire a mover. Ship them through the Post Office, especially if those boxes contain books. The books may take a few weeks to arrive, but since many movers charge by weight for long-distance moves, you will save a lot of money if you have a lot of books. If there are books you need right away, take them with you.

If you have a single piece of furniture or two, call movers, but know that with most, it will not be cost effective. Some may have a few cubic feet of space that needs to be filled, and coincidentally, may be going to your area. They might be able to make you a good deal, but for most, it would be cost prohibitive to move just a couple of pieces of furniture, unless, of course, they are valuable and need special protection. If so, by all means, call a mover.

If you are clearing a home from a hoarder, don’t call a moving company until the home is cleared. Movers must have a safe place to work and when movers are contracted to pack, they pack everything they see. Sure, you could pay movers to help sort, but there are companies that specialize in hoarding situations. Any moving company would be happy to help once everything is at least somewhat organized.

10 Questions Everyone Is Afraid To Ask About Moving

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If you think about it, the relationship between mover and customer is rather intimate. The relationship takes days/weeks and sometimes even months. Movers enter your home, they handle your personal possessions. Sometimes, movers and customers can even become friends.

Still, there is a line that few customers refuse to cross. There are questions that might come up, but that sound too personal or too intrusive to ask. So, you don’t have to ask. We’re giving you the down and dirty right here. Here are 10 questions you might have thought to ask your mover, but you thought they might be inappropriate.

Head in Hands

  1. Where do the movers go to the bathroom? – For many people, the answer to the question is pretty obvious. When movers are inside a home, they will sometimes ask to use the facilities. The customer always has a right to say no and the mover can go to the nearest convenience store or gas station, but for most customers, it’s not too much of an issue.
  2. Do you ever hire women? – Absolutely! We love strong women and some of our crews are even led by women packers.
  3. What about lingerie and other *ahem* personal items? – Let me tell you a story. I once entered a customer’s home and in her bedroom was a giant machine that looked vaguely like a vacuum. It wasn’t. She was a sex therapist and the machine was a tool of her trade. The movers discovered that she had many tools of her trade. The bottom line is, don’t be embarrassed. This woman wasn’t. Movers have seen it all, and well, everyone has *ahem* personal items. Many customers feel more comfortable packing them themselves, but trust me, the movers won’t be paying attention. That takes far too much time.
  4. My house is filthy! – As are many of the homes our movers enter. The fact is that most people focus on packing during the weeks before the move and cleaning often goes neglected. As long as it’s sanitary in your home, our movers are fine.
  5. Do your movers ever steal? – No. Our movers are bonded and we run careful background checks on each and every one. If, however, something does come up missing, it’s usually found within days. We are happy to help you find missing items.
  6. Do I have to feed the movers? – No, you do not. You can, as a courtesy, but they have no right to expect food.
  7. Can my child ride in the truck? – In most cases, no. Our insurance doesn’t cover passengers who aren’t employees. The children are, however, welcome to tour the truck while it’s parked, with adult supervision.
  8. Have you ever broken anything? – Yes, despite decades of packing experience and despite being particularly careful, sometimes things do break. If this happens, let the dispatcher know. Our goal is to take care of our customers.
  9. What if I smell alcohol or marijuana on a mover’s breath? – So far, that hasn’t happened, but if it does, call the dispatcher. We have a zero tolerance policy. That mover will be immediately pulled off the job. He will either be replaced or if no replacement is available, you will be charged for the lesser number of movers.
  10. Tipping, you say I don’t need to tip, but is that real? Will the movers be upset if I don’t? – While we can’t control what’s inside a mover’s head, and some might secretly expect a tip, if they don’t deserve one or if you don’t have the extra money, they are required to stay quiet and polite.

How To Start A Neighborhood Watch Group

in Advice, Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

You’ve probably read statistics lately that murder rates are up across the nation. You’ve probably been barraged with reports of murders across the Bay Area. There’s a grain of truth to the rise in the murder rate, but the figures have also been exaggerated. Regardless, people across the country are wondering how to keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe.

One old fashioned, but effective way, to keep your neighborhood safe is to start a neighborhood watch group. It is a commitment, but it costs nothing and it can yield safer neighborhoods. Here’s how to get started (from the National Crime Prevention Council):

  • Phase One: Getting Started — Meetings, Block Captains, and Maps
  • Form a small planning committee of neighbors to discuss needs, the level of interest, possible challenges, and the Watch concept.
  • Contact the local police or sheriffs’ department, or local crime prevention organization, to discuss Neighborhood Watch and local crime problems. Invite a law enforcement officer to attend your meeting.
  • Publicize your meeting at least one week in advance with door-to-door fliers and follow up with phone calls the day before.
  • Select a meeting place that is accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Hold an initial meeting to gauge neighbors’ interest; establish purpose of program; and begin to identify issues that need to be addressed. Stress that a Watch group is an association of neighbors who look out for each other’s families and property, alert the police to any suspicious activities or crime in progress, and work together to make their community a safer and better place to live.
    Phase Two: When the neighborhood decides to adopt the Watch idea Elect a chairperson.
  • Ask for block captain volunteers who are responsible for relaying information to members on their block, keeping up-to-date information on residents, and making special efforts to involve the elderly, working parents, and young people. Block captains also can serve as liaisons between the neighborhood and the police and communicate information about meetings and crime incidents to all residents.
  • Establish a regular means of communicating with Watch members—e.g., newsletter, telephone tree, e-mall, fax, etc.
  • Prepare a neighborhood map showing names, addresses, and phone numbers of participating households and distribute to members. Block captains keep this map up to date, contacting newcomers to the neighborhood and rechecking occasionally with ongoing participants.
  • With guidance from a law enforcement agency, the Watch trains its members in home security techniques, observation skills, and crime reporting. Residents also learn about the types of crime that affect the area.
  • If you are ready to post Neighborhood Watch signs, check with law enforcement to see if they have such eligibility requirements as number of houses that participate in the program. Law enforcement may also be able to provide your program with signs. If not, they can probably tell you where you can order them.
  • Organizers and block captains must emphasize that Watch groups are not vigilantes and do not assume the role of the police. They only ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring—and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.

I would also add that neighborhood watch groups should take advantage of social media. Form a Facebook group or join a site like NextDoor, which you can limit to just your neighborhood.

Try to keep your group light and fun. Ask the police department to meet with the neighbors once a year. Plan barbecues and block parties or potlucks.

Remember, the more the merrier. Arguments will happen, but the block captain should try to keep everyone on the same page. Who knows, you might even make some friends.

Featured image via Wikipedia.

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