More people than ever before will be moving home in winter thanks to the bumper crop of property sales boosted by the stamp duty holiday that end on March 31. Here, Mike McCarthy, managing director of McCarthy’s Removals and Storage, gives us good advice on how to have a smooth move in the worst weather.
He says: “When people picture moving home, they usually have in mind a bright sunny day, when no one needs to worry about soggy boxes, slippery paths or muddy boots. But we live in Yorkshire and rain comes with the territory –potentially all-year round.
"Given how busy the property market has been in the last few months, many people will make their move around the ‘bleak’ midwinter. However, a winter move is nothing to be concerned about. It is something we have had plenty of experience of over the last 50 years.”
Here are our top tips to ensure a smooth winter move:
*Plan ahead: We always recommend people get in touch as early as possible but that is more important than ever this year. With things being so busy in the run up to the stamp duty deadline, choose your removal company as soon as you can, even if you’re not yet able to give a definite moving date.
*Go professional: Of course, we would say this but if the weather is bad and you have booked a self-drive van, it may not seem the best of ideas on the day. Always remember to choose a BAR-approved removals company for extra reassurance, which is the recognised industry body for the industry, and check they have the British Safety Standard BS EN 12522.
*Whatever the weather: There could be extreme weather which means it is impossible for us to carry out a removal but it is very rare. Of course, your location may play a part in that, in terms of more remote addresses or roads which can become impassable, but talk to us about any concerns and we will plan ahead as much as possible.
Snow and ice: If things are very cold and there is ice or snow underfoot, please clear any paths ahead of the removal van’s arrival and ensure there is a supply of grit and a shovel or two handy. That way we can avoid damaged belongings – and injured movers!
Park it: Make sure there’s room to park the removal van. Use your own vehicles to secure the space and talk to neighbours to ensure room is available. It can be tricky parking a 36ft van in ice, so we appreciate the space being there and ready.
Robust packaging: If it is raining, cheap cardboard boxes can go very soggy, very quickly. It is worth investing in good quality packing materials to keep your items as safe as possible.
Clear labelling: You don’t want people traipsing around the new house with muddy boots trying to find where boxes belong. Clearly mark on each box where it needs to go in the new property. Using permanent marker is a good idea in case it is raining!
Protecting the floor: It is inevitable that people will be in and out of the properties with potentially wet boots, so consider how to protect your flooring. If it can be wiped clean, keep a mop and bucket handy for the end of the day, and old towels to wipe up any slippery areas as you go along. If you have carpets, we have carpet protectors or you could use old towels/sheets or flattened cardboard, carefully stuck down. Ensure there are no trip hazards.
Dress in layers: In these current Covid-times, we are recommending people keep windows and doors open as much as possible whilst the move takes place and also that you and your family stay in one room while the removal team sets to work, to minimise contact. So, it would be worth dressing in layers and assuming it’s going to be pretty chilly. You may want to think about a mini heater you could have on in your designated room as heating the whole house will be counterproductive with doors and windows open.
Keep an emergency box: We always recommend that people keep a box with them in their own vehicle with anything they might urgently need – for example, medications, a kettle, documentation, a few tools, lightbulbs, torches, phone charger, toilet roll and so on. In winter it would be sensible to add some bad weather essentials to that too, such as gloves, hats, de-icer, winter coats etc. Make sure duvets and blankets are easily and quickly accessible and clearly label them if they are going in the removal van. After all, it can often be late by the time you gain access to your new home, and cold if the house has been unoccupied.
Power on: As days are shorter in winter it can mean moves take place in the dark, so ensure that all the utilities will be on at both properties. The one you move from and the one you move to. Take some spare light bulbs to your new home as sometimes people take them with them.
*McCarthy’s Removals & Storage is based on Meanwood Road, Leeds. www.mjmccarthy.co.uk