Chapter 4: Storage

Storage is probably the most confusing area for people to understand when they find they need it. There are many reasons why people store and there are many storage methods. One thing is for sure: – you really don’t want to pick the wrong remover/storer here. It’s one thing being let down a few days or even hours before you move, but imagine your whole home coming back from store stinking and covered in mildew and dust, and or even rodent damage, missing a few valuable items that you are sure went in to store.  This seems dramatic, but it does happen and there are certain things you can do to avoid it.

When you’re thinking of storage you need to ask yourself a couple of questions first. Do you want to handle the goods yourself or do you want someone to do the heavy work? Do you want to have regular access to your goods and how long do you need storage? You need to find out the volume of the goods to be stored to help you decide. Get an Idea on the above questions and it will help to identify the type of storage you need.

The first question is the main question. If you want to do the moving yourself then you need self storage. There are now several choices: self store rooms, self store metal containers, self store wooden containers and mobile self storage. All of these vary and I will list the advantages and disadvantages of all methods.

Self Store Rooms – This option will be the most expensive per square foot. You will usually pay very high premiums for Insurance cover and you may be tied in for a longer period than you require. There are often very low price offers advertised but these will depend on a long term stay and will still work out as your most expensive option. If you or a man and van you employ take your goods there, you may have to carry along corridors and up stairs or in lifts to your room (you will usually be on the top floor, as ground floor is more expensive) When you load into your room there will be no protection for your goods unless you provide it and as a result you will end up using more space than you thought. If you use an unregulated remover/man and van they may not care that you need another room and they probably won`t leave their blankets with your furniture. The other problem with using a company like this to take your goods to self store is that they may want to get away as quickly as possible and won’t care about space or your belongings` condition, especially since you won’t be able to inspect your furniture when they finish as it won’t be accessible. For that reason they will be less careful than they usually are. The damage will only be evident when it`s delivered back to you and it will usually be a different company (as the one who took it there may not be available to return it to you). They could deny that damage (or even loss) was down to them and could blame the people who put it in. The main advantage of self store rooms is that you can have regular access if you need it.

Self Store Metal Containers – As above really, except they are usually the cheapest option but for a reason. They are generally stored outside and unless they are insulated and ventilated, they could damage household items, especially if you store for long periods of time and particularly in the winter. You could find a build- up of damp and mildew forms and could in extreme cases contaminate the load. The other disadvantage is that you could be loading / unloading in the open. There is also the possibility of there being a security issue unless the site has a secure fence around its perimeter and CCTV cameras that work. There are some companies that do store metal containers inside and these will be fine. If this is not the case then they are really only suitable for short term or non contaminable items such as garage and workshop contents. As with all storage types it is worth paying a visit to see how your possessions will be stored. They will be fine if they are well insulated and ventilated.

Self Store Wooden Containers – Most reputable removers store in them. The wooden containers are sealed from dust etc and are stacked up in a warehouse. For ease of loading a forklift will bring the containers down so you can back your vehicle right up to your containers and offload in the dry. The main disadvantage of this method is that you may not be able to get regular access like you will at the self store rooms. The cost of this method is usually cheaper than the self store room but more expensive than the metal containers.

Mobile Self Storage – This storage method is basically the same as number 3. The same containers are used but are brought to your home or business in a specialised trailer, which you load yourself; and there are usually blankets provided for protection, you can lock your unit and keep the key, and you can have access usually giving 24 hours notice. The main advantages of this method are that there is no needs to over- handle your goods, you won’t need to hire a van and you can spend time utilising the space at your leisure.As the delivery cost is low and insurance is usually included this method is recognised as the most convenient and cost effective method of self storage. www.simplystore.com is the largest company of this type in the country with over 40 branches.

Ok so you decide you don’t want to do the hard work and you will need to pay someone to do it for you. Most removers offer a storage service but many don’t have their own storage facility. This is a very important point.  Well run professional companies will have specialist vehicles that will have side loading doors which hold the wooden storage containers inside. These are brought to your property and your goods are loaded into them for you to see. A fork lift truck will load and unload these containers at the warehouse, so the handling of your goods is minimised. The good Remover will have originally carried out a survey , will have provided all the relevant paperwork (codes of practice etc), will have offered an inspection of their warehouse, will wrap all your furniture in blankets, cardboard, and plastic covers and will complete a detailed inventory for you to keep. You will see your goods safely loaded into your containers and you can relax. In most cases it is a good idea to get the remover to pack your possessions if you go into storage, in this way you can be sure your goods are fully covered by Insurance.

There are real problems associated with storing with an unregulated/unprepared remover. First of all if the remover advertises containerised storage but doesn’t have their own facility, it is likely that you will encounter some or even all of the following problems.

Not only could you experience the usual problems of an unregulated remover as mentioned earlier, but   you could find that the remover doesn’t have its own containers or side loading vehicles so your goods will be loaded loose on a normal van/lorry, it is possible that you may not receive a detailed inventory, and your goods may not be protected at your property, or for that matter insured. You could end up needing more containers than you thought, and may not know if they were loaded correctly. Your belongings may not have gone into purpose built containers and may end up in an old barn in a field.

You could be paying for storage space not used. The best way to stop this is to either get a fixed price at the start or get a price per container and get the maximum number capped. You will then know the maximum cost, but if you decide to get rid of certain things or not store them you will use fewer containers and therefore pay for the space you actually use.

The National Guild of Removers and Storers and British Association of Removers will let you know details of companies in your area that will offer a professional storage service.