To pack or not to pack (yourself)

The thought of boxing up all your belongings yourself may seem daunting, but if want to save cold hard cash, do it yourself, says Sheila Clifford, owner of Hudson Movers Limited, who should know — her company charges people for packing

Do it yourself, Clifford suggests, and “it’s probably a third of the cost.”Having movers pack your belongings adds to the cost of a move. If you decide to pocket that increment by packing your own stuff, beware the time it takes and the shift of liability if something is broken.

But that’s easy for her to say. Once you consider how much time it will take you, what you make an hour at your job and the fact your goods won’t be covered by a mover’s insurance, it may not seem that cheap. Factor in sprained muscles and mind-numbing boredom, too, although that’s difficult to put a price tag on.

Here are the in’s and out’s of the basic options for consumers:

Having movers pack. They’ll give you an estimate based on labour, material, what they’re packing, how far you’re moving and whether they’ll also be unpacking for you. For instance, Clifford’s company charges $54.50 to pack a carton of china for a local move, but $80.51 for an out-of-town move. The out-of-town move is more expensive because the company factors in the cost of unpacking as well. (Most people unpack when moving locally, says Clifford.) A china carton costs more than a larger box of books or clothing, because it’s thicker than a regular box. As well, it takes more skill and time, an estimated 30 minutes as opposed to 12-15 minutes for a regular box.

Even if you go for the full deal, movers still want you to pack and move your own jewellery and medications. They also can’t move aerosols, paints or anything flammable.

Do it on your own. There are a number of options in Toronto for do-it-yourselfers. Box Shop delivers and offers everything from a one-bedroom apartment kit ($70.54) to a five + bedroom house kit ($261.23). They include everything from boxes and packing tape to bubble wrap.

Melanie Bradley, The Box Spot sales manager says they offer kits ranging from a student package at $69 to a four-bedroom house at about $600. “If you’re just getting started these packages offer good guidelines.” She recommends using paper packed into tight balls to prevent movement. For fine china, use bubble wrap — a 50-foot (15-metre) foot-wide roll is $19.50. Tape guns at $18.99 aren’t necessary but can make packing easier. Mattress covers — $7.95 for a queen — are advised, because of bed bug worries in moving vans. Don’t use styrofoam because it sticks to everything, and is difficult to dispose of.

For a greener option consider bin rental. The Moving Store, offers a one-week condo package for two-bedroom apartments. Renting 15 reusable containers for one week costs $57.75.

Hidden costs. If you pack your own belongings, they’re only covered by mover’s insurance if the carton is dropped, damaged or lost.

John Levi, president of the Canadian Association of Movers, says even if the mover packs your stuff, they only compensate 60 cents a pound. If you want them to take full liability, you need to purchase what is called value protection insurance.

Levi cautions consumers to keep in mind that there’s skill involved in packing. “How do you properly pack plates and glassware so that they arrive safely or pack things so when they’re packed in a truck they don’t get crushed?”

Get a little help. Consider a partial pack. Let the moving company pack your breakables and TV while you pack your own clothing, books, pots, pans and food.

If you’re worried about how much of your own time you’ll be spending/wasting as you moon over your high school diaries or old love letters, hire a company to help declutter. Red Coats Moving Solutions charges $150 for a three-hour session. Owner Vicky Riley Keyes says that, depending on the size of your home and where you’re moving, one to five sessions should do the trick.


Justin Lepore

Justin Lepore

Broker of Record
CENTURY 21 Team Realty Ltd., Brokerage*
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