It usually happens something like this…
You’re brimming with excitement at the prospect of finally moving into your new home.
Things couldn’t be more perfect… until the driver says something like—
“Mrs. Houston, we’ve got a problem.”
Chances are he’s getting ready to tell you that there are going to be additional delivery charges.
Sadly it’s an all too common scenario, and though it tends to infuriate customers, it’s often unavoidable.
And the guilty party may be none other than the object of your affection—your new home.
What is a long carry?
From single-family homes and townhouses to condos and multi-story apartment complexes, professional movers have seen it all.
But when it comes to truck accessibility, they often vary greatly.
Especially if you’re moving into a high-rise apartment building or gated community, certain circumstances may prevent a large commercial vehicle from getting close to your home.
Here we’re talking about things like weight restrictions, tight turns, carports, tree limbs, and low power lines.
In situations like this, a moving shuttle fee may apply.
It’s a widely accepted rule of thumb in the relocation industry that movers give their customers 75 free feet between the truck and the home’s front door, but after that, all bets are off.
Remember, on a local move you’re usually paying by the hour, so if the distance is longer than 75 feet you’ll only pay for the extra time associated with covering that additional ground.
On the other hand, if you’ve moved from out of state, the cost for a long carry will be (or should be) based on the weight of your shipment.
How is long carry calculated?
Let’s look at a fictitious example.
Say you moved from Virginia to Arizona, and your household goods weighed 3,200 pounds.
If the driver can’t get the truck any closer than 90 feet to the front door of your new home, he may charge you extra for a long carry.
Many amiable van operators will let it slide if it’s just a few feet, but some won’t.
If your driver is a stickler and decides to charge you, the cost will usually be calculated based on a rate applied to every 100 pounds of your shipment.
In the aforementioned instance of the 3,200-pound shipment, the charges may look something like this—
$2.75 x 32 = $88.00
We use 32 to calculate the cost, because 32 x 100 = 3,200, or the weight of the shipment in pounds.
That means another $88.00 on top of the cost of your move.
Not such a big deal, right?
But if your shipment weighed 23,600 pounds, the following charges might apply—
$2.00 x 236 = $472.00
If you noticed that the rate changed from $2.75 to $2.00, that’s because mover’s interstate tariffs usually have sliding scales that decrease charges as the weight increases.
It’s like a discount for buying bulk.
Long carries may also apply in residential neighborhoods if your new home’s driveway is too narrow for a truck to navigate, or if the driver is concerned that the concrete or blacktop may not stand up to the truck’s weight.
If this is the case, you may be asked to sign a waiver releasing the company and driver from liability should their vehicle destroy your driveway.
The largest tractor-trailers have gross weights of up to 80,000 pounds.
The average family car weighs 4,000 pounds.
It’s a big difference, and one that residential paving companies don’t account for.
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What are stair carries?
Like long carries, the charges for stair carries often depend on the company you’re working with, the individual driver, whether you’re moving into a single-family home or an apartment, and if your move was local or long distance.
If your new residence is a single-family unit with a ground floor, basement, and an upstairs, you shouldn’t be charged extra for stairs.
If you’re moving into a 4-floor mansion without an elevator, however, your final move cost is likely to increase—maybe significantly.
For crosstown moves, the additional charges will be reflected in the final cost by multiplying the mover’s hourly rate by the extra hours it took to complete delivery.
All those stairs mean the crew will spend more hours on-site than originally anticipated, and the final charges will be based on actual time.
How much will movers charge for stairs?
If you’ve moved from out of state, the stair carry charges will be calculated in the same way they were for the long carry in the previous example.
The rules for apartments may be slightly different, but the cost is generally about the same and calculated in the same manner.
Generally, one flight of stairs (either indoor or outdoor) are included in the cost of an apartment move, but if you’re moving into a 3rd-floor unit, chances are you’re in for additional charges.
With so many variables there really are not cut and dry answers, so these are definitely issues you’ll want to address with each prospective mover during the screening process.
It’s one more way you can protect yourself from a nasty case of sticker-shock on the back-end of your move.
As if long carries and stair carries weren’t enough of a headache already, those in the midst of a move may be confronted with additional costs if delivery requires the use of an elevator (or elevators).
This is a common scenario when moving into high-rise apartments and condos in big cities.
Before going any further, it’s important to note that some buildings have separate freight elevators which movers are required to use, and they often need to be reserved in advance.
Sometimes they’re first-come-first-serve, which means if your movers don’t get there early and stake their claim, they may have to wait for them to become available.
Will movers charge for elevators?
That waiting can add up to lots of additional costs, so inquire with the property management office before delivery to save yourself a huge hassle.
Remember, for local moves the cost will be reflected in additional time, but on interstate moves, it’s based on the weight.
Some unscrupulous movers will try to charge you for both, so be wary.
Though they’re the professionals, don’t take the passive approach and rely on your moving company rep to address these issues.
As you may have read in previous articles, it’s wise to prepare a list of questions to ask each company you’re considering, and destination charges related to your new home should be at the top.
But remember, they can only base their answers off what you tell them.
Unless you’re moving just a few miles down the road and the representative can actually go see your new home before you move in, he’ll have to rely on the information you provide, regardless if it’s accurate or not.
Ask the representative the following questions:
- What size truck will you use for my move?
- Will it be a box truck or a tractor-trailer?
- What will its gross weight be? Its height? Its overall length?
- What are your policies regarding long carries, stair carries, and elevators?
- If I need these services, how much will they cost based on the estimated weight?
It’s better to negotiate these moving costs now than on the delivery day.
Then, if you’re not moving into a single-family home with a relatively short driveway, call the people in the rental or property management office at your new building.
Tell them when you’ll be moving in, and how big the moving truck will be.
Ask them about any height or weight restrictions, if their loading dock and freight elevators need to be reserved, and if they’re accessible for large trucks.
Then, when you’ve asked every question you can think of, take a deep breath because you’ve done all you can to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible.