Access Issues on a Residential Move

The size, complexity, time length, and cost of a move can be broken down into the following three variables:

1) The Load
2) Access Issues
A) Access at the Origin
B) Access at the Destination
3) The Transit (from Origin to Destination)

In this posting we will discuss the second variable, “Access Issues.” How easy is it to get to the furniture at the Origin and how easy is it to deliver it at the Destination?

So for any move, there are access issues to contend with at both the Origin location and the Destination location. For both the Origin and Destination, the estimator needs to look at:


1) Truck Parking

A) Will the truck park on the street or in the driveway?


B) If on the driveway, is it flat, circular, declined, inclined, or too steep for the truck?
C) If on the street, is it a small side street or a busy boulevard? Just try parking on Clairmont Rd. (busy street in Atlanta). Moving trucks get $150 parking tickets when they park on busy streets in downtown Atlanta to do high-rise moves.

D) Is there a Loading Dock? If so, then the items will come out of the truck quickly, but there is probably a long walk to the residential unit and there are probably elevators involved. The movers will need 12 to 30 of the 4-wheel dollies in order to efficiently roll the items being moved.

E) Is there a parking structure? If so, the truck is most likely too tall for the entrance and will have to park outside the parking structure. There will most likely be a long walk to the elevator, and again, the mover will need 12 to 30 of the 4-wheel dollies.

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F) In extreme cases, the roads themselves leading up to the house may be impassable by the Moving truck. There are mountain towns like “Big Canoe” in Georgia where many of the town’s roads are impassable by tractor trailers. In Big Canoe, there are places where even standard 24’ box-trucks need to be in either 2nd gear—if a standard transmission—or the lowest gear if an automatic transmission. Once you get to the mailbox, there may be a steep winding driveway which now requires a still smaller vehicle—like a 14’ shuttle truck or even a van—the size of an electrician’s van.

2) The Walk From the Truck to the House

A) How many feet, or how many car-lengths—of a standard-size sedan like a Camry?
B) Is the walk level, up, or down?
C) Over what type of terrain? If asphalt or concrete, then four-wheel dollies and handtrucks can roll smoothly over it. But if the walk is through a yard, If it is through grass, or dirt, or gravel then rolling a four-wheel dolly or handtruck may be impossible.

3) Are there Stairs or an Elevator?

A) If stairs? What kind, and how many? Up or down?
i) Stairs can be hardwood, in which case you cannot set heavy furniture like armoires on the stairs or else they will scratch
ii) Stairs can have new white carpets which will streak if handtrucks are rolled on them
iii) Stairs can be narrow and have switch-back turns which are difficult to navigate with large furniture like sofas and armoires.
iv) Staircases may have low overheads, especially in low townhouses, where a Queen-sized box spring will not fit up the stairs.

B) If there is an elevator, what are its limitations?
i) Is it a freight elevator which you can reserve and dedicate for your move?

ii) What are the allowable hours for using it during a move? (For Office Moves in Class A buildings, you usually have to move after 5:00pm or 6:00pm during the week or during the weekend) Residential moves can have time restrictions too. We did a move recently into the “Campbell Stone” retirement building in Sandy Springs, GA, and they do not allow moves to be occurring between 11:30am and 1:30pm

4) Going into the House, Condo, Loft, or Apartment

A) Front Door: Double or Single-Door? Narrow or Wide Door? “Straight-Shot” in or is there a tight right-angle turn to get in the door. Once you get inside the door, is the staircase in the way?
B) What is the Floor Like Going in the Door?
i) Real hardwood? Light or Dark? Light shows the scratches more and is more difficult to touch-up or repair?
ii) laminate? Less sensitive, and easier to repair, but dents more easily.
iii) Carpet? Light or Dark? How new? How easily does it tear?
C) Doorways Inside: Are they narrow? Will the refrigerator’s door need to be taken off in order to get through the doorway, or will the refrigerator have to be put on a four-wheel dolly, and then one-door opened and maneuvered through the doorway with the door open?
D) How Many Levels? One level, two, three, or four?
E) How many rooms are there? and how big is the house (how many square feet?) The size of the house will greatly effect the amount of time it takes to do a move, and this is independent of the total pounds on the load. For a load of 7200 lbs of household goods, a crew may be able to move it at a rate of 700 lbs per man per hour when it comes out of a first floor, two-bedroom apartment. When the same load comes out of a 6 bedroom, 8000 square foot house, the crew may only be able to move it at a rate of 425 lbs per man per hour!

The Problem with “PODS”

P-O-D-S are a very mixed bag.  These are steel boxes, and there are wood versions, which are dropped off at your client’s home, and then the client gets them loaded somehow, and the PODS company comes back and picks them up and delivers them to the destination.

My experience with PODS is they only pay off for the customer IF THE CUSTOMER IS DOING THE LOADING AND LOADING THEMSELVES!  If you were going to put some boxes and garage items and wooden chairs in a pod, and ship it somewhere or store it—Fine.  But when you try to plan a major move, here are the problems:

1) There is no effective insurance {PODS won’t pay for “normal breakage, and the Mover won’t be responsible for items after they are loaded into a POD.}
2) There are very limited ways to tie-down the furniture {No slats and certainly no “E-Track”}
3) There are no decent pads to protect the furniture
4) The PODS are irregular sizes and the PODS incoming sales people frequently underestimate how many you need and then you need to call and order additonal PODS, and get an upcharge once you are already committed. What looked like a good deal renting two PODS, may no longer look so cheap if have to rent four PODS!

PODS and wood crates can help with “sideline storage,” but they are not effective for moving a high-value, high-volume house.

As a Moving Company, we have been called out to unload PODS which someone else unloaded, and when we opened the doors, the furniture was laying broken in a heap in the middle of the POD.

Even if we made the customer sign a waiver, before loading the PODS, we do not want to be associated with unhappy customers. So we could not take on the job of Loading the PODS in the situation of a high-value, high volume load.

But PODS are effective with smaller, lower volume loads. And we don’t have a problem with unloading PODS because the customer then doesn’t think us responsible or hold us responsible for damage. We have a customer who works for Coca-Cola and moves around the country, and uses a single POD each time. She has it loaded “to the gills” and then leaves whatever doesn’t fit. If you can fill the POD to the brim, then you can often get away with not tying down the load. But on a big load which requires three and one-half PODS, what do you do about the last POD which is only half full? You don’t want the customer at destination to open it up and find everything in a heap!