Understanding what goes into creating an estimate for your move and being aware of what to watch out for is one of the most valuable parts of your moving process. Communication is key when working with a moving company on an estimate, for both you and them. Some companies, whether intentional or not, do not disclose certain charges, do not explain industry lingo, and may even leave out some very important disclosures, costs, and information that is contained in the fine print, which, let’s be honest, most of us never read!

There are a lot of reputable moving companies, we pride ourselves on being one of them. Some may simply forget to address the items below but that should never stop, you, as the potential customer from being informed and aware. Here is our list of red flags to watch out for, questions to always ask, and tips for getting the most accurate moving estimate up front.

Red Flags:

Additional Charges. Some companies don’t disclose all the charges when doing the initial estimate. Make sure to ask and get in writing ALL costs associated with the move before moving day. There may be fluctuation in price after the move is finished, no moving company can predict the unexpected surprises that sometimes happen on moving day. The cost, however, should never sway higher to hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than the original estimate if it was done properly.

Extremely Low Estimate. If something seems too good to be true, it generally is. Be very careful if a company’s estimate comes in very low. This can be a tactic to book the job. This is unfortunately seen across a variety of industries, not just moving. Keep reading for the red flags that can happen when the estimate seems too good to be true.

Underestimating Time. When a move is grossly underestimated, for whatever reason, some companies charge a higher rate per hour for the additional hours that were not in the initial estimate. Make sure to ask – If we go over the amount of hours estimated, what is the hourly rate?

Underestimating Weight. Some moves are estimated by the weight or cubic feet, typically when dealing with long-distance moves. Underestimating the weight can cause the same issue as underestimating the time like above. They will charge a higher rate per weight overage that was not in the initial estimate. Make sure to ask – If we go over the amount of weight estimated, what is the rate?

Packing and Materials. There is generally an allotted amount of packing materials and time figured into the initial estimate. Extra boxes, packing material, tape, help with packing a few boxes, that a customer may need on moving day. However, some companies will not only charge for the packing costs on moving day but inflate the cost. Make sure to ask – How many packing materials and hoe much packing time is included in the estimate?

Communication is Key:


The Fine Print. Who reads this stuff? You should, especially if you are raising an eyebrow of how low the estimate is. It is rare that a moving company can beat out another for almost half the cost. On moving day, some companies may add in “extras”; more packing materials, classify standard items as “specialty”, charge a higher hourly rate after the hours in the initial estimate have been used. Make sure to read the fine print but also ask questions! Sometimes the Terms of Service may be vague and confusing, on purpose. They bury the additional charges, “We can charge you for anything not discussed when creating the estimate”.

Lingo. For example; the definition of “heavy” can be different! What will be heavy can vary from person to person so it makes sense why it might vary from company to company in moving costs. If there are heavier items in your move, ask what the definition is and the cost regarding those items are.

Definition of Specialty Items. Again, each company is different so they may have a different definition and cost associated with “specialty items”. Specialty items typically include: large/heavy furniture, specialty household décor, art pieces, pool tables, chandeliers, mirrors, fountains, statues, glass dining room table are some examples.

Some companies may charge extra for “specialty items” that are not typically considered as such. We have seen a standard dining room table labeled as “specialty” and the customer was charged between $200 – $500 extra. A specialty dining room table, for us, would be a heavy, large, fragile, glass dining room table. This would all be discussed during our visual estimate, which leads us to out next tip!

Visual Estimates Are a MUST!

Let’s say you’ve been in your home for over 10 years. That super long hallway, tight corner, or 20-step staircase may seem like nothing to you at this point but those will be things that may affect the cost of the move. To get the most accurate estimate for your move, the moving company HAS to visually see what they are working with. The cost to move a 2,500 sq. ft. home can be drastically different from one home to another.

When we go out for a visual estimate, here are some of the things we are looking at:

  • Number of floors and stairs
  • Is there an elevator – typically for apartment, condo and high-rise moves
  • How the staircase is configured
  • The layout of the home
  • Small, tight areas to move in/out of and around
  • Amount of furniture, appliances, boxes, etc.
  • Are disassembly and reassembly required for furniture and appliances
  • Specialty Items
  • Discussion with the customers about how prepared they will be on move day and if they will need help from us – packing, unpacking, storage, etc.

Communication really is the biggest key, for both of us! Asking questions ahead of time and during the visual estimate, and even after, is a must to get the most accurate initial estimate. And there are no dumb questions, not everyone is a moving expert, which is why you have reached out to a company in the first place!

For additional moving resources check Preparing For Your Move, download our Moving Checklist and take a peek at our Frequently Asked Questions.

There is nothing better than seeing smiles on our customer’s faces! To know we took a stressful day and were able to make them smile, by doing what we love to do, is the absolute best. To schedule a free visual estimate, give us a call (702) 381-1200 or drop us an email [email protected].

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