Move Myself (Yourself) tips
We were moving ourselves from a 2700 square foot home to a 1500 square foot home. You can move yourself! We have come upon some unusual moving tips, and you will see my approach to moving myself was rather unique. Moving myself was not something I looked forward to, but in this case the financial savings would be quite large. I hope these moving tips can help you! We were moving ourselves within the state, but it was typically a 2 hour and 15 minute drive between the two properties. We had to load from the 2700 square foot home, drive 2 hours and 15 minutes and unload at the 1500 square foot home. Think of the logistics if we had hired a mover, they would have had an overnight stay, and they would have the return trip, all of which we would pay for, meals, mileage, tolls, tips, would have really added up.
See "Facilitating the move" below for the unusual tips to move yourself.
Also another page detailing the winches and ramps tips. This page has quite a few large photos so please be patient.
So after a thorough purchase price review, we decided to do it ourselves, something we will never do again, but it was quite an achievement. My wife and I did the whole job in our late 40's. For my wife there was a lot of wear and tear on her hands, which unfortunately are slightly arthritic, so this was tough for her.
Yes, we rented trucks
If you are going to move yourself you will need moving vans. To complete the entire move we had rented 3 different vehicles. We were fortunate that we owned both properties, we were selling our big home, and moving to the vacation home in the country! (My employer gave me an opportunity I could not pass up; a layoff.) We had rented a 14 ft. van to do a furniture exchange, you see, both houses were furnished, but we thought we would do better moving some furniture to our suburban home to sell off. This did help, and allowed us to move a few things to our new 1500 sq. ft. home with a round trip, a furniture swap. Thank goodness for the full basement in our new home, and when the moving was done, it was a "FULL" basement. Full of stuff, and junk!
We also rented a 17 ft. and 24 ft. mover
We were fortunate that we could break the move up. We moved many essential things with the 17 footer, but the real killer move was with the 24 footer. It was supposed to be 26 ft.! On moving day we call in, in the morning, to confirm pickup and are told, "we can get you a 26 footer, but we do not have it now, we only have a 24'. We wanted to do it, we had to do it, now! So we accepted the 24 footer. I have never done a better packing job, that van was full, with no wasted space!
Since we did have extra time, we could plan a little more and use a little less muscle! How do you do that? I already owned a hand truck which is essential. But I also went and purchased a nice dolly for about $60. We have this solid cherry entertainment unit that weighs a ton. The dolly is perfect for this type of furniture. Carol and I could not lift this piece of furniture ourselves, nor lift several other pieces ourselves. So how did we move ourselves? What about the stairs?
I built ramps!
To move furniture in and out of our 2700 sq ft. home we had to get down the front steps, a flight of 3 steps. So for this I had a ramp and landing area platform. The platform was just a sheet of plywood. (Wait till you see what we did at the other end of the move!). So something like the cherry entertainment unit you lean up from one end, slide the dolly under, and carefully roll it down the front stairs ramp, to the mover "pull out", no (heavy) lifting required.
But what about the upstairs and basement?
Yup, we had stairs galore and we had lots of heavy and/ or bulky stuff in our basement, and upstairs. More solid cherry furniture. Large sofas, lots of books, lots! I have a table saw, with cast iron wings, it is heavy, we could barely move it. So I built more! But the moving tip here is buying a winch and car battery, Say What! With the winch and car battery along with some ramps and my hand truck, I put together a system that let us winch all the heavy, and bulky items up the stairs (or down the stairs), then just pull the hand cart up at the top of the steps, out the front door, down that ramp, and up the "pull out" into the moving van. Now that is called moving yourself.
No lifting required, that is the move myself tip!
With ramps, winch, dolly, and hand truck, we only ever had to pick up one end of any piece of furniture. Guaranteed a moving crew would do it faster, but we did it way cheaper! And now I can take the winch and mount it on my new compact tractor! But wait till you see what we did at the other end of the trip.
We are ready to unload, what to do?
There was no plan for the unloading at the other end of the move. I had ideas but was unprepared. We had to take a lot of stuff out of the 24 footer and put it into the basement of the 1500 sq ft. home. Whoops, number one, the driveway is stone! Number two, the basement is around the back of the house down a pretty good hill, a rough hill, with rough grass, even the hand truck will be hard to use in this environment. I was afraid to take the 24 footer back there. It is going to take forever! We were pretty tired already but dead set on getting the rental back that day. So what to do? Move yourself; maybe we should have hired a mover.
Build a ramp, what else?
I drove into town and bought about 16 sheets of 1/2", 4 x 8 ft. oriented strand board, you know cheaper than plywood. Then starting at the sliding glass door in the basement we cascade these boards up the hill, making a landing area around the "pull out" from the moving van. Warning: The boards will slip and slide! You could screw them together, we survived without it. Now we could dolly things down from the moving van, down our 4 foot wide plywood cascading sheets into the basement sliding door. The solid cherry entertainment unit scared us! We were not sure if even two of us could control that much weight down the hill. Three years later and I have just about used up the 4 x 8 ft. OSB in other projects. But another "moving myself" tip made the solid cherry unit a cinch.
The yard cart, a huge time saver unloading
The yard cart; I had not even thought about it till we got there. I am hugely glad we had this cart. You could move large quantities down our plywood cascade in one easy trip all by yourself.
One thing to always consider
We had planned the loading of the 24 ft. moving van so that most of the furniture that would go upstairs in a our new home would be packed first. We knew we wanted to store a ton of stuff in the basement, so that "stuff" would be unloaded first. So now the stuff was in the basement, time for the upstairs. But what about the five steps into the house, yuk? We backed the truck up near the house and ran the "pull out" right onto the door jam! This was great! We could dolly stuff right into the living room. The "pull out" was almost horizontal. If you can do this, make it happen. I probably should have tried this when we were loading but I was chicken, and I probably would have really messed up the lawn at the 2700 sq ft house in the suburbs. I do not think I had room either, without going on my neighbor's yard. At the country home we were not so worried. And actually the lawn took it pretty well. Pulling the mover up to the doorway can make moving yourself much easier.
One thing I was paranoid about was this big, heavy, 24 footer I was backing down a hill on the lawn, would it sink in. Part of the planning here is having the van already half unloaded. I also let the front lawn grow very long, the grass can add a lot of support to the topsoil. I did take four of the sheets of 4 x 8 OSB and cascaded them down the hill where I planned to park, hoping to form a stable platform with good traction when it was time to pull out. Well the tires cracked right through the OSB, but it did not matter. I think two layers cascaded, maybe even three, would have carried the tire loading. Remember at least the vehicle will be empty when you finally have to pull out! Just be careful the boards will not fly around and hurt someone when you pull out.
Loading the van yourself
Here is some notes that you will not find at the rental services.
Mom's Attic and sofas, moving tips!
I had two sofas and a love seat to load on the 24 footer. I first filled up "Mom's Attic" with light weight boxes, and sometimes you can even stuff a few floor lamps on top (with the shades removed). What I then figured out is I could "up end" the sofas with their bottoms towards Mom's Attic. I had put down pads on the deck of the mover first. Each sofa fit nicely in the corner and also formed a perfect retaining barrier for all the material stacked in Mom's Attic. Between the sofas I was able to fit in a nice tall armoire. Sofas are light enough; I believe they can take this packing style, but this ultimately has to be YOUR DECISION! I "roped" them into place.
Learn how to tie quick release knots.
You can tie knots during all your packing that untie like a half a shoelace knot. Experiment a little you will see! Practice this before you try to move yourself.
Tables, pads, and the floor of the vehicle, move myself tips
The next thing you will obviously do is put some nice tables upside down, on pads, on the
deck of the moving van. This protects the tables, and still provides plenty of safe stacking room. But what did you (and I) forget?
It is likely your tables have some value and this step can save some serious scratches.
I hope this helps when planning your move! You can move yourself! Please review my article on winches and ramps.
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