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Homes Overseas May 2008

Thinking outside the box(es)

homes-overseas-may-2008It is not unusual for an international 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.

You are going to entrust your treasured possessions to a company you probably do not really know, so it is best to look around their storage premises for assurance that it meets your expectations. This means well-ordered, maintained and secure premises, not someone’s barn or dilapidated warehouse – do not believe adverts and photos.

The storage company should provide facilities with 24-hour security and stringent fire control. A reputable company will provide features to protect 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 are prone to pressure damage if incorrectly stored. Separate facilities for storing cars and other large heavy items should also be available.

Professional storage is usually in purpose-built containers, which can be brought to your home for loading. Effects will be labelled and colour coded, inventoried, then packed and sealed into the containers. This means the items are only handled during loading and unloading, although some effects may be required while in storage, making it necessary for them to be specifically itemised so they can be ”held forward”.

Another important consideration is to make sure documents crucial to the relocation, such as passports, driving licences, insurance, or house documents 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! A good practice is the creation of an easily identifiable carton ‘hot box’. Important documents and small essential items such as keys or crucial screws and fittings for furniture can be stored here. This ensures all documentation is readily available and avoids small essential pieces from being misplaced when needed on delivery.

All risk insurance is an important consideration when organising storage. It is essential that exclusions and financial limits are checked to make sure they are sufficient to cover any possible loss or damage. Ideally it should be an extension of transit cover as it is not recommended to split the risk between two insurers. Insurance involving international moves is usually based on a client’s detailed valued inventory. A company will quote a premium per £100 value or as a percentage of the total value declared. This is then simply extended for the storage period. Avoid simply accepting an extension to a storer’s legal liability cover, as this insures them and not your goods for all risks.

Insurance and customs clearance 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 excluded by the insurance company, as this kind of damage is usually caused by poor packing. Another consideration is the heightening levels of security at overseas entry points. Owner-packed consignments, if allowed, are usually physically checked, resulting in delays, costs and an increased 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, second-hand 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.

Certain items need special attention. Vacuum cleaners, garden implements and other outside pieces are required to be clean and dry prior to storage. Fridges and freezers need to be fully defrosted and dry to avoid leakage and the risk of mildew forming. Items prone to deterioration or leakage, such as batteries, aerosols, gas bottles/cylinders, petrol, food or other perishables, are not appropriate for storage or shipping. Leather and related products require special care, while personal valuables like jewellery or special collections should not be included.

Moving is one of the most stressful life events, not forgetting the added complication of dealing with a new country. However, 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.