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Ottawa Movers:

Two movers from First Rate Movers carry a shelf up stairs

Answers to Questions About
Ottawa Movers Services

Moving Costs

If you’re engaging professional movers, you should mention your cost concerns during your initial call with a sales person. Similar to airlines or hotels, many moving companies have a sliding scale of prices that reflect supply and demand on a particular day. Generally, the summer months are the busiest. Saturdays and the beginning and end of each month are busy year-round. The less busy times tend to be Monday through Thursday in the middle weeks of the month. If you are flexible with your move date – an overlap between when you need to be out of your old home and are able to get into your new home helps- you’re certain to get the best value. Additionally, your sales person can provide advice on other cost-saving measures, including efficient preparation in advance of moving day

For liability reasons, there are three main rules that must be followed when it comes to customers or their friends/family being involved on moving day. They can’t get on the truck, carry anything with a mover, or get in the way. The best help would be to assist with preparing for the move before the moving crew gets there and then staying out of the way. On moving day, you should let the professionals handle the job entirely. Anything interference by the customer or their friends/family could end up resulting in damage, injury, and/or making the move take longer. Remember that you’re paying your moving crew by the hour, and generally speaking, having non-professionals on the job alongside them only slows things down and costs you more in the long run. Also, most mover’s insurance companies will not cover damaged goods if anyone other than the moving company loaded or unloaded them.

Most moving companies base their estimates for local moves on an hourly rate, which includes drive time from the moving company to your original home, to your destination, and back again to the moving company’s home base. Some customers are surprised by the extent of the drive time costs, which result from the fact that moving trucks can not travel as fast as passenger cars on the highway, and are often excluded from non-truck routes, resulting in longer trip mileage and travel time.

Labor represents the majority of the moving expense. However, there is usually a travel charge and can be surcharges for moving oversize/overweight items. You should also budget for packing supplies-boxes, tape, bubble wrap, pads, etc. 

Generally, unexpected costs result from a breakdown in communication between the customer and the moving company. Do not be in a rush when you are booking your move. Take the time up front to make sure the moving company is fully aware of the situation they will encounter on moving day. For example, have you remodeled your house since you moved in? If so, some of the furniture that went in originally may not come out the same way. Did you forget to mention access issues or any significant items that need to be moved. Usually, the only unexpected costs result from these types of unexpected issues. 

Most moving companies’ estimates are non-binding. This means the actual cost may vary a little or a lot from the original estimate. The best way to ensure that your move comes in on-target with your estimate is to offer as much information as possible at the time of the estimate. Since costs are projected based on an hourly rate, neglecting to mention a major point of the move at the time of the estimate does not mean that your move will cost less, but rather that your moving crew will be less prepared to do it. They may show up with fewer movers or trucks or equipment than they would have brought had they known up front what the situation would require, which may increase costs. Because you’re paying by the hour, if the move takes less time than was estimated, your actual bill will be reduced accordingly. As First Rate Movers, we always try to provide responsible conservative estimates and typically finish in less time than estimated.

Moving is a service industry in which workers are not highly paid. As with wait staff in a restaurant, movers usually rely on tips to supplement their income. There is not a set amount of gratuity expected by movers as there is by servers in restaurants. This is mainly due to the fact that a bill for moving services renderred is typically much larger than a bill you would pay for a meal. No mover would expect to receive 15% of the bill as a tip. On average, a good mover would usually receive about the equivalent of $4 to $5 per hour worked as a tip. On an easy, short move, they might get less while extremely difficult moves often yield bigger tips. If you feel that the job was done efficiently and effectively, you should feel free to tip your movers accordingly.

Move Safety

You can do a lot to reduce the cost of you move by being well prepared. You may help out by moving things closer to where the moving truck will be parked in an effort to reduce the time required to complete the move. However, there are 3 general rules that every moving company should insist that customers follow:

  • The customer shall not interfere with the moving process. This means moving things at the same as the movers or trying to help the
    moving crew move something. The customer may get in the way and/or cause an accident to occur.
  • The customer shall not get on the truck. Movers should always insist that customers do not enter the truck. The moving company
    could be help liable for injuries if a customer were to hurt themselves while on the truck.
  • The customer shall not attempt to lift anything with any of the moving crew.

A: We recognize that children of a certain age are fascinated by the moving process, but for their own safety, we recommend that they stay with neighbors or friends on moving day. If you would really like to expose them to the excitement and frenzy of the moving process, be prepared to supervise them carefully to ensure that their safety is not compromised and that they stay out of the way.

A: Unfortunately, there is no safe place in the moving truck for pets to ride. They can not be transported in the cab for insurance reasons, and the box of the truck is inappropriate due to lack of climate control and the danger posed by potential shifting of heavy objects. Generally speaking, moving day is traumatic for most pets. The best way to ensure their physical and emotional safety during the move is to secure them at a neighbor or friend’s home, or in a professional kennel if necessary.

Unfortunately, most moving companies cannot transport customers for liability reasons.

Move Preparation

Unfortunately, a complicated process such as a home closure or completion of construction is often delayed due to unforeseen variables and extenuating circumstances. Save yourself the stress–if at all possible, pad in few days. Consider booking your move 5-7 days after the estimated time your new home should be available.

Focus on packing, not moving. You’ll be amazed how quickly many helping hands-either professional movers or your friends-can carry all of your boxes. Don’t waste time trying to move these items yourself. Rather, focus on packing boxes so when the help arrives, you’re ready. You should prioritize your preparation into three areas:

  1. Sort and dispose of any unneeded items through garage sales, donations
    to charitable organizations, or gifts to friends and family.
  2. Pack areas you don’t use often, such as basements, garages, and attics..
  3. Should time permit, consider moving some of the smaller items yourself ;
    focus on pets, plants, pictures, collectibles and highly sentimental items.

The two most time-consuming tasks for movers are usually moving boxes and (dis)assembling furniture. Try to have your beds, tables and desks disassembled ahead of time. Use as many similar size boxes as possible, pack them well and tape them closed. Rubbermaid containers are an excellent alternative. Boxes and square furniture are usually loaded on the truck first. Place all your boxes in one area towards the front of the house but not in the way (a garage is excellent for this). Use the same strategy when unloading.

Such items can be moved if properly packed, but professional movers will not insure live plants, which can be traumatized by motion and temperature extremes. And of course, plants cannot be stored.

Even professional movers do not move items such as propane tanks, firearms and aerosols. It may be better to dispose of such dangerous items than to try and move them to your new home. Alternatively, you may wish to simply secure them in a safe place on moving day. Additionally, make certain to empty the gas out of any gas-operated items (lawnmower, weed wacker, etc.) prior to moving.

While it may be time-consuming, getting rid of items prior to your move is time well spent. Keep in mind that movers are paid by the hour, so it isn’t economical to pay them to move items you’re only going to throw away later. Same goes if you’re moving independently with the help of your friends–they may become frustrated knowing that they spent a portion of their weekend helping you carry boxes full of old stuff, only to find that you ended up throwing them out at your destination!

Discuss this with your sales person. If your items don’t fit in your new home but you’re only living there for a finite period and then have plans to move to a larger home, storage may be appropriate. Or, if your items are high-value, you may wish to store them. If your items are older or less valuable, consider the monthly cost of storage versus the replacement cost of the items. Which option is more cost-effective?

Have your moving crew move the dining room, living room, and bedroom furniture, as well as appliances. And of course you’ll want their help carrying heavier, larger items such as bureaus, desks, tables and sofas. Consider moving boxes, lamps, plants, and the many other odds and ends yourself.

Pick a labeling system and use it consistently. You can either color code your belongings based on the rooms at your destination -bedroom: red; living room: blue, etc..(excellent idea); or label the boxes with some consistent shorthand to denote their location (DR for dining room, MBR for master bedroom, etc.) If possible, boxes should be labeled on 3 sides.

Many people feel that they should move their breakables and heirlooms themselves. However, if you’ve chosen to hire professionals, let them do what they do best, including assuming the liabilities associated with heavy lifting, negotiating stairs, and maneuvering fragile items. The moving crew has experience day in and day out packing delicate items such as crystal and collectibles. Also, insurance providers to the moving industry only cover boxes packed by the moving company, not the customer. Worse-case scenario, the moving crew packs your valuables, they break, but at least the items are covered if the company is insured!

You should always empty filing cabinets completely, especially if they have counterweights.

You should make certain that your appliances are empty fridges/freezers defrosted and cleaned.  Additionally, movers are not electricians or plumbers and are not licensed to disconnect gas. You should arrange for the appropriate professional to disconnect any water/gas or hardwired electrical lines leading to appliances. 

Moving Day


Keeping the lines of communication open with your moving crew is critical during both the packing and moving process. If you have some items that should stay behind at your old home and some that go to your new home, you must clearly mark which is which. In order to avoid inadvertently leaving something behind or discarding a valuable item, your moving crew will move ALL items in your home, unless instructed otherwise. It is your responsibility to walk through your old home and do a final check for any overlooked items before the moving trucks departs for your new home.

Try to use up or give away as much perishable food as possible before moving. Your refrigerator and freezer can not be moved with food in them and should be emptied and defrosted prior to moving day. You might consider utilizing a cooler with ice packs to transport any remaining perishables that you want to keep. 

In general, you should wait 2-3 hours. If the fridge was tilted on more than a 45 degree angle during the moving process, you should wait 5 to 6 hours. 

Absolutely. However, please remember that you are charged by the hour, so a significant amount of time spent rearranging the furniture will add to the total cost of the move. Having a plan in mind before arriving at your new home will save a lot of time and money.

You should consider moving smaller sentimental or irreplaceable items in your own vehicle. As for larger sentimental or high-value items, point these items out to your moving crew. You should feel confident that your movers will pay special attention to any items you have designated as such. Most moving companies will have some variation of a “high value declaration” requirement so be sure to mention any such items to the company prior to moving day.

With essentials such as cosmetics, toiletries, a change of clothing, bed linens, towels, and toilet paper that will be needed immediately upon arrival at your new home, you may wish to transport them yourself in your personal vehicle. Alternatively, mark these boxes and draw them to the crew’s attention, giving them specific instructions as to where to place the boxes in your new home.

Moving is a physically taxing job, and the crew will need breaks and time to eat during the day. They will keep track of any break time and deduct it from the billable hours. As for providing lunch, you are welcome to contribute monetarily to their lunch if you wish, but it is not required.

Possibly not. Many people overlook the space that smaller items will take up. Be sure to consider this factor in your planning. It is not uncommon for people to decide, after moving into their new home, that they do not have enough space for all their boxed content and miscellaneous items. Considering this carefully prior to moving day could help avoid additional cost for moving moving those items to self storage after the fact.

Yes, but there is a charge for items taken to the dump, both for labor involved in driving to and from the dump, as well as a disposal fee imposed by the management of the waste disposal location.

Professional movers are prepared to move during rain, sleet, or snow if need be. The only time a booked move is affected by weather is in extreme cases (tornados, extreme cold, etc…) where public warnings are issued. Our moving crews are equipped with supplies to keep your belongings and home safe from the elements.