Tips & Checklist For Moving House – Article 2 (Packing)

This is the second in a series of articles that we have prepared on moving house. Take a look at the bottom of this article for links to the rest of the articles in the series.


The simplest way to make your house move a great deal easier is to organise the packing of all your stuff. If you’re not completely organised then your stress levels before the move are going to be much higher, items may get lost or damaged and the job of unpacking is going to be much harder and take longer.

What You’ll Need

 

In the previous article we outlined the packaging supplies that you’ll need to order well in advance. But here it is again to save you time:
Be sure to order more than you estimate – you ALWAYS need more boxes. In fact it’s best to have a “emergency stash” of boxes and other materials that only gets used for packing last minute items.
  1. Boxes (various sizes including cardboard wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes)
  2. Packing Tape
  3. Packing Paper/Newspaper
  4. Bubble-wrap
  5. Scissors/Sharp knives
  6. Gloves
  7. Stickers – preferably different colours (you’ll find out why in a later article)
  8. Marker Pens
  9. Mattress Covers

Preparation First

 

There are two things to do before any items are put in boxes:
1) Create a table (or spreadsheet if you’re that way inclined). In this table you will have two columns labelled “ROOM” and “BOX NUMBERS”.
In the Room cells you will place the names of each room. In the Box Numbers cells you will place the box numbers. However, you need to have a system for thistoo whereby you assign a number to each room, 1 for kitchen, 2 for living room, etc. then you use letters to designate the importance of each box in that room. So the things that need to be unpacked first from the kitchen will be labelled 1a, 1b, etc.
In addition, you can colour code the boxes with brightly coloured stickers so that they stand out without having to look at numbers.
Ultimately you’ll have a table that looks something like this:
ROOMBOX NUMBERS
KITCHEN
(Boxes Nos. 1)
A=cups
B=plates
C=cutlery
LIVING ROOM
(Boxes Nos. 2)
A=electrical accessories
B=TV
C=Stereo
D=ornaments
E=photos

 

 

The extra advantage of this system is the added security, as each box will only have a number and letter on a coloured sticker. All you need to do when the movers/friends are moving boxes into your new home is to tell them “Green is Kitchen”, “Yellow is Living Room”, etc. Or even better is to put a matching sticker on the door to each room. The movers will know where to put everything when they arrive at the destination.
Also while packing highlight heavy boxes and fragile boxes. For boxes that have to remain upright, mark them with an arrow pointing up and “THIS WAY” underneath the arrow.
2) Before packing a thing you need to define what will be going with you, what you might want to store for a while (if you are going to be decorating your new home, etc) and what you are happy to sell/donate/dispose.
Basically you have the following categories:
  • Keep
  • Storage
  • Dump
  • Charity
  • Sell
Get some of those small coloured sticker dots and assign a colour to each of the categories. Now go around the house, from attic to cellar and put the respective dots on everything.
Start getting rid of the items that are not going with you weeks or even months before the move, while items going into storage can be moved anytime, but best to get them out of the way before moving day.

Take Photos

 

If you end up making a claim for damage to goods against the professional movers or your insurance company, you are going to need evidence that the goods were in perfect order before the move.
So take photos of anything important before you pack them and where possible show them in working order, TVs on, etc.

Keep Important Papers With You

 

Your list of “important” papers might include: birth certificates, passports, bank statements, school records, movers contracts, utility company numbers, phone lists, etc. Keep them with you and have a specific sealable folder where you put it all in.

Time To Start Packing

 

Now that you know what is going with you and you have a packing labelling process in place, it’s time to start packing. Anything you can pack ahead over a period of time will reduce your stress as you approach moving day.
Begin with the least important items; the knick-knacks, ornaments and such. Basically all the things that you can do without for the few weeks before you move into your new home. Get your out of season clothes out of the way (i.e. pack your summer clothes if it’s winter and vice-versa). Spare electronics items can also go (any extra radios and TV’s that are rarely used). Pare down cooking utensils etc.
As you get to a few days before moving day, you will start to pack the more essential items and food stuffs too.

Keep Things Together

It’s tempting to undo tables and beds and unplug all the cables from TVs and stereos etc, and then put the screws, bolts and cables in separate bags. Only to find that you have no idea where all those items are when you want to rebuild everything.
So, keep those things together. Extension cords with appliances. Screws and bolts can be attached to the item they belong to with tape. Put all the cables for each appliance in individual bags and tape them to the device.

Use Empty Space

You know all the luggage you own and the bins? Use them and any other containers you have as packing space. This includes your fridge, dishwasher, clothes dryer, etc. that can be filled with clothes.

Your Valuables

If you know that you will have room to carry the boxes containing your most valuable items with you during the move, then you can pack them in specific boxes and mark the boxes as highlighted above, but add an asterisk (1c*).
However, if these boxes are going to end up out of sight then try to scatter these items across the other boxes you pack. This spreads your risk and makes it near impossible for anyone to steal them.
Either way, check your homeowner’s insurance to see how you are covered during the move, and if you need additional insurance (your chosen moving company will be able to provide this if you are using one).

Don’t Make Boxes Too Heavy

When you are packing, it’s tempting to put as much into every box as possible. But always be conscious of the weight. If it’s too heavy, then it will take two people to lift. Although that be fine when you have a lot of people to help you, what about when you’re left on your own in your new home and you need to move boxes around? In any event, heavy boxes can break and that can mean broken items. So keep it below 15KG each.
A simple rule of thumb is that if you can’t push it along the ground with one foot, then it’s too heavy.

Personal Boxes

In the days before the move, give each person in your family their own personal box for them to fill  with items they’ll want immediately in their new home. They may not think of it, but among their CDs, underwear, etc. they’ll need a set of sheets and a towel.

Final Packing Tips

Here are some final tips that you’ll find useful:
  • Cushion the bottom of boxes first. Do likewise with the sides for fragile items.
  • Wrap all fragile items in newspaper, kitchen towel, tissue or clothes.
  • Use heavy duty string or cord to secure furniture, doors etc. as tape can damage veneers.
  • Pack all your children’s toys together, in selected boxes, with their help.
  • If you are using a professional mover, leave the china and other fragile valuables for them to take care of. This way they will be fully responsible for any breakages.
  • Set aside a couple of boxes and fill with items needed the day of the move – coffee maker, coffee, sugar, biscuits, paper-plates, hand tools, scissors, extension cords, mobile phone charger, plug adaptors, bucket, rags, soap, linen, paper towels, toiletries.
  • Set aside a few days worth of clothes, food and other essentials you will need prior to the movers arriving at your new home and prior to unpacking.