It is not unusual for a move at one point or another to involve storage. For example, long term storage may be required when someone lets out their home while being posted abroad to fully furnished rented accommodation or short term storage is needed due to their new home not being ready on time, or to break a long chain.
Check the storage facilities
Your treasured goods are going to be entrusted to a company you probably don’t really know, so it is best to look around their storage premises for assurance that it will be able to meet your expectations. Check they are well-ordered and maintained, a secure premises, not someone’s barn or dilapidated warehouse – don’t always believe adverts and photos.
The storage company should provide facilities with 24 hour security and stringent fire control with a strict no smoking policy. Furthermore, a reputable company will provide features to protect various special items from the effects of storage, such as purpose-built racks or storage containers for soft furnishings, upholstered furniture and other delicate objects, which if incorrectly stored are prone to pressure damage. Separate facilities for storing cars and other large heavy items may also be provided.
What can be stored
There can be a surprising range of items stored by their owners prior to shipment, whether it be the iconic red British telephone box for shipment to a new home in America or even a tree cut into sections whose owner intends to use it to make a piece of furniture. However, items prone to deterioration or leakage are not appropriate for storage or shipping, such as batteries, aerosols, gas bottles/cylinders, petrol, food or other perishables. Leather and related products require special care, while personal valuables like jewellery or special collections should not be included.
When organising storage, it is important that insurance is considered. It is essential that details including exclusions and any financial limits are checked to make sure they are sufficient to cover any possible loss or damage - this can be an extension of the home moving cover. It is not recommended to split insurance liability between two insurers.
Note that any UK removals or storage company offering insurance products now has to be registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to do so. Please see our section on insurance for further information.
Insurance involving international moves is usually based on a client's detailed valued inventory. On the basis of this total valuation, a company will quote a premium per £100 value or as a percentage of value declared. This is then simply extended for the storage period in the UK or overseas for each monthly period.
Having a detailed inventory drawn up of items held in storage can also be used for household insurance at your destination. Some moving companies are able to offer this service, and in the case of antiques and other valuables, to photograph them prior to storage can add to their security.
Insurance should be considered when deciding whether to pack goods yourself or having the removals company to do it. Owner-packed goods can be insured , although breakage, denting, chipping, scratching and bruising will be exempted by the insurance company. This kind of damage is usually as a result of poor packing.
In the case of personal effects when moving abroad, with the heightening levels of security at overseas entry points, owner-packed consignments, if allowed, may well be physically checked on entry, resulting in delays, costs and increases the risk of damage.
Whether packing yourself or having an expert packer, it is recommended that materials provided by the removals company are used. Not only is there less risk of damage, secondhand packing materials are not allowed to be imported into some countries, for example old fruit or food boxes, because of the risk of contamination from the previous contents.
For certain items, procedures need to be followed to avoid damaging them or other items while being stored. Vacuum cleaners, garden implements and other outside pieces need to be cleaned and dry prior to storage. Fridges and freezers need to be fully defrosted and dry to avoid leakage and the risk of mildew forming.
Professional storage is usually in purpose-built containers which can be brought to your home. Effects will be labelled and colour coded, inventoried and then then packed and sealed into the containers. Some effects may be required while in storage, making it necessary for them to be specifically itemised so they can be quickly located. Alternatively, essential items can by ‘held forward’. Another important consideration is to make sure documents crucial to the move such as passports, driving licences and even birth certificates are not packed away. It may sound obvious now, but it is surprising what people will pack or leave in drawers!
Self storage facilities have the advantage of 24 hour access, however the rates do reflect this benefit when compared to most moving companies, who will require notice to make goods available to you. This should not be an issue if the same company is doing your move and avoids insurance complications.
A good practice for storage and in removals is the creation of an easily identifiable ‘hot box’ –approximately a 30x30cm in size carton containing small essential items such as keys or crucial screws and fittings for furniture. This avoids small essential pieces from being misplaced when needed on delivery.
Moving is one of the most stressful life events. The key to success is careful preparation well in advance of the move, including review of the storage options available and selection of the right removals company. For peace of mind it is worth some additional cost to minimize the risk of anything going wrong.