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!

“For My Residential Move, Can I leave the drawers full ?”

The short answer is it is best to empty the “large” pieces like dressers, chest of drawers, armoires, wardrobes, buffets, china cabinets, and desks.

The items that have to be moved have to be moved some way by someone. The question is what is the most efficient and cost-effective way. There are large bedroom pieces which physically cannot tolerate being moved full. “High-boys,” for example are in danger of having their legs snapped if moved full. Others can only be moved full with the assistance of special equipment like a refrigerator hand-truck. Often this is fine if it is a ranch house with old carpet floors. But in a multi-level house with hardwood floors—now you have to worry about damaging the floors.

Many Movers will say as a marketing ploy to “just leave everything full,” but when they need to, they will take the drawers out anyway.

For the drawers you do leave full, remember to go through them and check for valuables like currency, watches, jewelry, and firearms. You would be amazed how many people do not do this even after being reminded to. Many people have more loose valuable items like these than they can keep track of, and simply forget they are being kept in back of a drawer.

One time we were carrying a dresser down the stairs; a drawer opened up; a pistol fell out and to the ground and went off !!! Fortunately it was just a “starter pistol,” but we didn’t know that when we heard the gun fire.

Since the Movers may remove drawers and move them separately, think about the contents of the drawers and whether you want them being waved in the breeze. You probably won’t mind if the contents are pants and sweaters, but how about underwear and other bedroom items? Discrete, professional Movers will concentrate on their task at hand, and have seen everything anyway, but it is something to keep in mind.

In another situation, a long dresser may be not be all that heavy, but in order to get out of the bedroom it has to be stood up on end. When this happens, if the drawers are full–many loose items will be thrown against the side of the drawers (now pointing down), and the structure of the dresser will be tested. A quality dresser will hold together, but a press-board dresser may fall apart right then.

The conclusion: empty the drawers of the large pieces. The move will go faster if all the drawers are empty, but then that means extra work box-packing—whoever does it. A good compromise is to just leave “full” the “medium” and “small” pieces.