Ninja Movers Blog

Home » Ninja Movers Blog

Get A Quote

Customer Name:
Your Email:
Phone:
Moving Date:
Move Size:
From Zip Code:
To Zip Code: Find Zip Code
Comments:

Is Solar Worth It For Your Home?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You might now know it now, but California is one of the sunniest places the nation. The Bay Area is also home to some of the most advanced green energy companies in the world. There’s definitely a push to go solar, but is it worth it for you?

solar-power-862602_1280Last week, I wrote about ways to cut your energy costs, and I only briefly mentioned solar, because it’s not very cut and dried. If you are looking just to save money, solar may or may not be for you. If you are looking to save the environment, solar is a great option, especially in California.

The first thing you should do is find out if you’ll even save money. Google has a nifty tool where you just plug in your address and it estimates the savings, if there are savings. When I plugged in my address, it said I would be saving about $400 a year in electricity. It would be more if we added electric heat, hot water and air conditioning units. On average, if your electric bill is north of $100, solar may be the right choice for you.

Buying vs. Leasing Solar Panels

Installing solar panels can be costly. For my house, which is a split level, so it doesn’t have a lot of roof space, the estimated cost of solar panels would be a bit over $20,000 over a 20 year lease term, but if we were to purchase the solar system outright, it would cost about $15,000 less nearly $5,000 in current tax credits (so just about $11,000 out of pocket, which can be financed). If we purchased, it would pay for itself after about eight years. After 20 years, our savings will be about $17,000. Even if we finance, our monthly payments will likely be less than our electric bill would have been. If fact, PG&E could end up owing us money since they purchase any electricity we don’t use.

If you lease solar panels, you may not be able to take advantage of the tax credits and you may not get credit for any electricity you don’t use. So, why would anyone lease when they can buy? Because there’s no maintenance and you won’t pay for installation. Overall, though, your monthly payments will likely be at least a little lower if you buy instead of lease. Either will increase your home’s value, although the leased system would have to be transferred to the new owner.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Utility Bill Shock? Here’s How To Save Money

in Posts, Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Over the last two (granted, colder than normal) months, our utility bills have nearly doubled and are significantly higher than this time last year. Why? What are we doing wrong?

There are many, many ways to save money on your utility bills and they range from quite inexpensive to quite expensive but worth it in the long run.

Featured image via Brendan Wood/Flickr

Featured image via Brendan Wood/Flickr

With our moderate temperatures, houses in California are notoriously unprepared for temperature extremes. Many homes have minimal insulation and some have none at all. Many homes are older and have wasteful windows, furnaces and other appliances.

Now, let’s start with the cheapest, and in many cases, free options.

1. Turn down the heat – Yes, it’s nice to have your home at a toasty 70 degrees all year around, but it can be expensive. A five degree difference can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Wear sweaters. In my house, it’s not uncommon to see me walking around in my bathrobe during the middle of the day. At night, turn your thermostat down to 55 or 60 degrees and pile on the covers.

2. Cover drafts – This isn’t the best looking alternative, but rolled up towels under the doors can make a big difference. You can cover those single-pane windows with plastic weather proofing to help the draft there. Covering your windows in plastic isn’t the most elegant solution, but it does make a difference on your comfort and utility bills.

3. Unplug – Even when off, many of your electronics continue to use electricity. Plug things that don’t need to constantly run (like your refrigerator) into power strips and when not in use, flip off that switch.

4. Get curtains or other insulated window coverings – Cover your windows in a more attractive, but somewhat more expensive way. Thermal curtains or other window treatments can save you hundreds a year.

5. Get Rugs – Wood and tile floors are cold and they have a tendency to cool the entire home. That’s why homes in hot climates often have tile floors. If you don’t want carpet, invest in some rugs. They will help preserve heat and they will keep your feet warmer.

6. Insulate – Here’s where things start go get expensive. Look to spend between $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot, so for a 2,000 square foot house, you could spend between $3,000 to $7,000 for insulation. Obviously, it won’t pay for itself during the first year but it will over time and it will help add to your resale value, as will these next two.

7. Get new windows – Your single-pane windows are a huge source of heat loss, and during the summer, heat coming into the house. On average, a good double-pane window will cost you about $500 – $1,000. For houses that have 20 or more windows, that can really add up, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

8. Get solar – This subject is a bit more complicated and can be expensive, but also a huge cost savings. Solar will be the subject of next week’s blog post.

9. Check with your utility company – Utility companies often offer rebates on energy efficient upgrades. Your first step is to invite them out to do an energy audit. They will tell you what’s eligible for a rebate and what’s not. They’ll also have some great tips.

Is The Moving Industry Really The Most Crooked In The Country?

in Articles by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

For the last couple of decades, the moving industry has suffered from a bad case of public relations blues, some of it earned, some of it not. Between horror stories shown on network TV, websites like Movingscam.com and this Newsweek article from last month, it’s no wonder truck rental companies are so popular. Is this reputation deserved, though? The facts say no.

Image via Wikimedia.

Image via Wikimedia.

The American Moving and Storage Association is the trade association for the moving industry, so yes, they are biased, but at the same time, it’s in their best interests to ensure that the companies represented by them are top notch. They responded to the blistering Newsweek article. Here’s some of the response:

“In response to the Dec. 9 article, “Why the Moving Industry Is Filled with Fraudsters and Scam Artists,” millions of Americans move every year and the vast majority of professional moves end with satisfied customers. While there are criminals in every industry, their actions should not be used to unfairly smear the nearly 200,000 Americans—ranging from small family-run businesses to national van lines—who work for the professional moving and storage industry.

This story bears no relation to the wildly inaccurate headline attached to it. Only a couple of victims and a couple of fraudsters or scam artists are referenced, with none of the moves taking place in the past four years. This is hardly evidence of an industry “filled with” this problem.

Let’s look at the facts. According to data from the National Consumer Complaint Database, there were 3,030 complaints nationwide about household goods moves in 2015, while there were 364 complaints about “hostage loads.” These are a tiny fraction of the 800,000 interstate moves estimated to occur annually by the U.S. Census.

This in no way disputes the fact that yes, there are scam moving companies and they make us all look bad, but most are unlicensed and most are companies that are only around for a year or two. It’s true, anyone can buy a truck and call themselves a mover, but real movers have to go through steps, like licensing, that helps ensure that they will obey the laws.

Of course, every moving company has unhappy customers. Trucks break down, delays happen, sometimes things get broken and occasionally, left on the truck, but most moving companies have honest intentions.

That being said, it’s always good to do your homework. Take a look at the sites above and make sure the companies you’re looking at are properly licensed and they have decent reputations. Yelp is also a big help. Protect yourself, but don’t feel that hiring movers is too risky. There are bad apples in every industry, but overall, the moving industry is pretty safe.

What To Do When The Rain Becomes Too Much For Your Home

in Local moving, Storage by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Over the last couple of months, California has gotten a much needed deluge of rain, but our houses don’t know how badly we need it. Roads are flooding, but in many cases, so are our garages, our basements and even our main living areas. While a moving company can’t keep your home from flooding, it can help you deal with the problems caused by flooding.

Obviously, things aren't quite this bad in California, but water damage is nothing to take lightly. We can help.

Obviously, things aren’t quite this bad in California, but water damage is nothing to take lightly. We can help.

Obviously, the first thing you should do when dealing with a flood or just a leak, is try to stop it. Get sandbags, call a handyman if necessary. You might even need to build a trench, but what about the water inside your house?

Flooding tends to affect areas like garages and basements, which typically don’t have easily damaged floors, but they do tend to have items like cardboard boxes and often, furniture. The first thing you must do is get those out of the way of flooding, and probably, replace and repack the soggy boxes. We can help.

Unlike with your local self-storage company (or a big, not so local self-storage company), we have the staff and ability to take care of everything for you. We can repack all your water damaged boxes. We can protect your furniture from future damage. We can move your goods out of harm’s way and we’ll protect them in our dry, clean, secure storage facility.

Unlike with self-storage, we’ll do all the work. Not only that, but we inventory and take responsibility for every item that enters our warehouse. If there’s water damage on your favorite antique dresser, we’ll let you know before it leaves your home. We can even refer people who can fix it.

In less than best case scenarios, more than just a few stored items are damaged. Sometimes, new flooring, new drywall and even mold remediation are in order. We can help with that too. We will take things out of the way, store them as long as needed and return them when your renovations are complete.

Water damage is a hassle and for some homeowners, it’s a nightmare. While we can’t stop the rain or even the rain damage, we can certainly help you get back to normal without breaking the bank.

What To Do If It’s A Week Before The Move And You Haven’t Started

in Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You’ve been thinking about it for a while. You’ve hired the mover, you may or may not have begun packing, but you notice the calendar and your moving date is just a week away. Panic begins to overtake you. You look around your current home. Would it be so bad to stay forever? That’s certainly easier than moving, right?

silhouette-114436_1280

While things undoubtedly seem overwhelming now, they don’t have to be. Your moving company is here to make things easier for you.

Since it’s just a week before, we’re hoping that you have done some advance prep work. Hopefully, you have chosen the company that will move you and have done your due diligence on making sure you’ve picked a good one (more on that next week). You should have already gathered your medical and veterinary records and have registered your children in school. This would also be a good time to let your insurance company and your banks know of your move. Hopefully, you’ve also transferred your utilities or cancelled the old ones and set up new. Here’s a comprehensive moving timeline. It starts two months out. That doesn’t mean you have to start two weeks out, but it means that in the last week, you will be busy.

If you live by yourself and you don’t have a heavy workload during the week before the move, you might be able to get your packing done. Your moving company will be happy to deliver all the materials you need and they can even show you how to put together the boxes and how to pack each one.

If you have a family and you have to work, things are going to be much more challenging. This is a good time to let your moving company know you aren’t packed. They can pack for you, but they may want to pack a day or two earlier. If that’s not possible or necessary, plan on a long day. You can still pack as much as you can and the moving company will be happy to finish the rest.

The best advice for last minute packing is to pack the easy things and let the movers take care of the breakables and more difficult items. Clothing and books can be packed relatively quickly, although you won’t have time to sort through everything. Don’t feel bad. Plenty of people have moved and then sorted. The cost difference of a handful of extra moved boxes is pretty nominal.

Personally, I’d rather pack than do the moving out cleanup. If you can afford it, you can hire someone to help. If not, rather than begin packing, start pulling things out of cabinets and scrubbing. This will help the movers and it will save you from having to do that scrubbing afterwards. It’s not advisable that you clean any external surfaces before the move. You’ll just have to clean them again.

The bottom line is we live in a great time. We are all incredibly busy, but if you need something done, you can generally pay someone to do it. Contact your moving company. They might have resources, like cleaning people and even painters. They will certainly take the burden of the actual move off your hands.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Moving Companies Band Together To Keep Chargers In San Diego

in Business, Posts by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

The city of San Diego is in a big tub of hot water with its football loving citizens. The city’s team, the San Diego Chargers, announced last week that they will be moving about 115 miles north to Los Angeles and the city’s moving companies are refusing to help.

3896967063_b854945be8_b

So far, 23 companies have created a website called WeWontMoveYouChargers.com, where they are refusing to participate in having “56 years of San Diego Chargers history be pulled out from under (them).” Nine Los Angeles moving companies have also joined the ranks.

“We decree, henceforth, that we shall unite as a perfect union of professional movers in agreeance to not aid the San Diego Chargers’ move to Los Angeles.”

The site, which we fully support, was started by Ryan Charles of HireAHelper. Charles said he’s a lifelong San Diego resident and a lifelong Chargers fan.

“We were just sitting there thinking about the physical move of the Chargers,” Charles said. “We were thinking we would not want to be a part of that, having been born and raised here and being a lifelong Chargers fan.”

Charles added, “It’s almost like the last line of defense. We were making this last statement of loyalty to the San Diego Chargers.”

It’s not often moving companies get political but this is football and it’s personal.

Featured image via SD Dirk/Flickr

You’ve Just Inherited An Estate, Now What?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When a family member passes, it is beyond heartbreaking, but when you’re suddenly thrust into being responsible for the family member’s estate, heartbreak can be compounded with stress.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Featured image via Pixabay.

Please note that this blog post is about what happens after the courts have sorted things out. Only a few of our movers have law degrees (kidding), so you really should not be taking legal advice from us. This blog post is also not about massive estates. If businesses or multiple investment holdings are involved, please consult an expert.

Now that we’ve said that, most estates are not massive. Most involve perhaps one home, perhaps a car and anywhere from a few to a great deal of personal possessions. Typically, when an heir or an executor to the estate takes his or her first look, to say it’s overwhelming is an understatement, but with just a little planning on your part, a moving company can shoulder a lot of your stress.

Let’s assume that by the time you’ve called a moving company, all the heirs have ironed out what goes to whom. If not, here is some pretty good advice for maintaining peace while divvying up belongings. Once you know what goes to whom, the hard work is done. All you need to do is label things. Buy some sticky notes and you can color code each member of the family. There are bound to be some items that no one wants, and those can be sold or even stored.

Once everything is labeled, let a mover handle the packing for you. We are experienced with estates and have moved items for major auction houses. There isn’t an antique or piece of artwork we don’t know how to treat with kit gloves. Please, though, if there is jewelry or other small valuables in the estate, move those items yourselves.

In most estates, there are items that don’t necessarily have a home. Some are typically set to be sold and others, into storage. Perhaps some family members don’t have room for their new treasures, so they will also need storage. We can help you with that as well.

Obviously, we can transport the estate anywhere within the country, even if there are multiple destinations.

Don’t let a family death be more stressful than it already is. Engage the help of professionals. We will remain calm during the storm and we will ensure that everything makes its way to its new home. We might even help prevent some family feuds.

 

Nine Tips For An Easy, Breezy Unpack

in Preparing for a move, Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

When you’re getting ready to move, there are all sorts of resources to help you prepare. Pretty much anyone, including your moving company, can offer tips on packing. Everyone seems to disappear, though, when it comes to the job of unpacking.

397100231_3137eb49f4_o

First off, your moving company (at least if it’s a good one) will not abandon you. They would be happy to help you unpack. Just tell them where things go, and they’ll get to it. That’s for organized people, though, or people who used the moving company to pack.

We live in the real world, though, and in the real world, we start out with the best of intentions. We carefully label and organize maybe the first 20 boxes or so, but once moving day begins to creep up upon us, the organizational system begins to go out the window. Of course, this can all be avoided by paying the moving company to pack you, but we don’t all do that, and that’s okay.

I can’t say I actually enjoy unpacking, but it’s far less tedious than packing, and it’s a lot more rewarding. There is a real sense of accomplishment in seeing your new digs come together with your stuff. So, how can that be done quickly, and with as little hassle as possible?

  1. Unpack cleaning supplies first – You’ll need them.
  2. Unpack the kitchen – Trust me when I say you’ll need your kitchen stuff. Odds are, you don’t have to get too creative with unpacking the kitchen. First, though, put a post-it on each cabinet door. This trick might seem sort of stupid, but when you’re unpacking, you don’t want to think. Know in advance where everything goes, and putting things away will be a breeze.
  3. Electronics – You want to give the kids something to do.
  4. Toys – Ditto.
  5. Unpack the clothing next – Unpack the kids’ clothes first and then yours. The bedrooms should be very easy. When you pack, pack one drawer per box. Then everything can easily go right back in. Your mover should provide you with wardrobe boxes, which makes hanging things in your closet super fast.
  6. Unpack books – You might not need books right away, but they are easy to unpack and they help you feel at home.
  7. Unpack knick-knacks – You can put this off, but I don’t like to. There is nothing like your personal collections to make your new home feel like you.
  8. Pictures on the wall – Like with the knick-knacks.
  9. The garage – I’ll confess, we moved 7 months ago, and there are still boxes in our garage. The garage usually gets last priority, but don’t put it off as long as we have. Your cars will appreciate it.

 

Yes, this sounds easy – perhaps too easy, but it can be broken out. If you work full-time and have children, you probably won’t unpack in a day or a week, but you can in a couple of weeks, if you set aside some time to unpack maybe five boxes an evening.

Featured image via Joe Hall on Flickr. 

A Shocking 1/3 Of Bay Area Residents Want To Leave

in Bay Area News, Bay Area Real Estate, Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

There are few better places to live than the Bay Area but for some, life can be tough, especially if we’re not millionaires and many Bay Area residents are thinking of leaving.

A survey was done by the Bay Area Council, and 34 percent of the 1,000 respondents said they were thinking of leaving – mostly because of the cost of homes and the traffic. Most of the people who are thinking of leaving have only been here for five years or less, though.

The council, which released its findings Monday, also found that the number of people who say the area is headed in the wrong direction is significantly higher this year over last year: 40 percent versus 28 percent last year.  And 40 percent of those surveyed said the region is on the right track, down from 55 percent.

Source: KTVU

San Francisco residents had a more positive view of the Bay Area, with 52 percent thinking we’re going the right direction. Santa Clara residents are the most dissatisfied.

Here’s the video:

This survey definitely serves a purpose in letting leaders know about people’s struggles and where the area can be improved. Even areas once considered too dangerous, like parts of Oakland and Richmond, are becoming price-prohibitive for many and traffic is tough, but it’s not as tough as in some places.

If you’re one of the people considering leaving our beautiful area, first off, we’ll miss you, but we can also help you. Just give us a call.

10 Questions Everyone Is Afraid To Ask About Moving

in Advice, Posts by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

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.
Page 2 of 1412345...10...Last »
Customer Name:
Your Email:
Phone:
Moving Date:
Move Size:
From Zip Code:
To Zip Code: Find Zip Code
Comments: