How To Check Out a Moving Company Interstate Moving Local Moving Washington State Moving

Selecting a Moving Company: Tips for Washington State Consumers

You’ve heard the news and consumer reports on rogue movers.   Illegitimate or deceitful operators target consumers moving  within Washington as well as moves to other states.  

You can easily avoid the problem movers and make sure you have a quality move by following  these 5  tips.



This one tip will help you avoid the source of many of the worst moving experiences that consumers report. The problem is, with the internet, anyone can create a website and appear to be a legitimate moving company or van line.   Unfortunately, these operations don’t have the resources or accountability needed to service a move.  They can disappear as quickly as they appear, leaving consumers without a way to resolve issues or even make contact again.

Here is an example of what you can avoid.   I got a call from a friend of a friend asking for advice after it was too late.   He lived in California, got a new job in Washington, and booked his move with a company he found online.   He chose it because it had the words “van line” in the name, assuming  it must be a large operation.   Two months later his furniture was still in Colorado waiting for a truck to take it to Washington (not sure why it went to Colorado).   He called them repeatedly but couldn’t get the delivery scheduled.   He thought I could help him track down more information about the company.  Unfortunately, I could only find the website — nothing more.

You need an asset-based mover to make sure your move happens as promised.    What is an asset-based  mover?  It is a moving company with their own trucks,  warehouse, employees, and licensing.    Does the moving company you are evaluating  have  a  local warehouse –or  just an office, website , or phone number?  A simple test is, “Have I seen their building and their trucks on the freeway or around town?”



A van line guards their brand and national reputation by monitoring  their local representatives (agents). A van line requires their local agents to meet  standards of training, insurance, financing, maintenance, and performance.   The  requirements are more stringent  than the state’s requirements.  For example, our van line requires background checks and drug testing for every one of our employees.

Although a van line is not directly involved in a local move, it has an enormous influence on the quality of the local operation.

The other half of this tip is to choose a van line that has a local presence.   For example, Atlas Van Lines has several agencies in the Puget Sound area, but none in some areas of Wyoming.



Moving companies and van lines have built their reputations and expertise over several generations.   A simple  test is “Have I heard of them?” If you haven’t heard of them before, ask people you know.  Many consumers have first-hand experience with van lines from their experience with military and corporate relocations.  And they know local companies from their own, friends, business, or family experience.



You can determine how a moving company treats  the public and resolves issues by checking their record with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Call or check the website to see a company’s performance.  You will notice some differences.  For example, there are some moving companies with  no unresolved complaints over a period of several years,  and others with multiple and frequent unresolved complaints.  BBB search by company.



If you are moving within Washington State (Local Move or Intrastate Move)

Any business moving household goods for the public is required to have a valid permit from the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (“WUTC” or “UTC”). It is more than a formality—licensing requires a moving company to know and follow state moving regulations.  To check a mover’s license, see the WUTC  website list of permitted carriers.


If you are moving  from or into Washington State  (Interstate Move), interstate moving operations will have two essential designations

1. DOT or USDOT NUMBER:  This is the identifying number for registered interstate transportation companies.  You should see it on a moving company’s ads,  trucks, and website.  Use the US Department of Transportation website to search by company name or DOT number.

2. ProMover logo with MC number:  Moving companies qualify for the ProMover certification through the American Moving and Storage Association.  It verifies that a moving company operates according to the standards for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Surface Transportation Board (STB).   You can see a list of companies with ProMover certification at the American Moving & Storage Association ProMover finder.


Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Moving Questions

Can I Move a Motorcycle In the Truck With My Household Goods?

Some drivers and moving trucks are capable of transporting a motorcycle in a moving van.   Here is what to expect when a professional moving company transports a motorcycle with household goods.

  1. The truck is equipped for moving motorcycles.  A professional moving van operator straps a motorcycle in place using nylon straps connected to a track system.  For long distance moves, the driver installs a deck over the motorcycle (metal racking covered with plywood) so other items can be stacked above the motorcycle.  The decking creates a mini garage inside the truck for the motorcycle.
  2. The motorcycle needs to be prepared to move.  The essential items are that it not have any fluid leaks and that it has about a quarter tank or less of gas.  The key and alarm instructions need to stay with the bike.  The driver completes a written inventory of the bike’s condition.
  3. Finally, the driver loads the motorcycle so nothing is touching it and then still pads it in moving quilts.


Info by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Storage Questions

Vaulted Storage: Is It Right For Your Move?

Storage companies specializing in storing household goods use a unique storage system called vaulted storage (also known as vaulting, professional storage, vaulted warehousing, or van line storage).  This article will explain what vaulted storage is, a comparison to other types of storage, approximate costs, where to find vaulted storage, who uses vaulted storage, and when not to use vaulted storage.  Finally, you will find answers to some common questions about vaulted storage.


A vault is a wooden storage container that can be moved around with a forklift.  A standard size is 5-feet wide x 6-feet tall x 7-feet long.  It holds about a room’s worth of furniture (such as a living room or bedroom).   A storage company specializing in household goods stacks the vaults two or three high inside a secure, concrete warehouse.  Depending on the size of the warehouse, the storage company can have 100 to 500 vaults available.


  1. You only pay for the space you use.  You don’t pay for a certain sized storage unit or building.  You just pay for how many vaults you need.  An average apartment needs 2 to 4 vaults.  An average home needs 4 to 8 vaults.
  2. Triple protection: Each furniture item is wrapped in a storage quilt, then put inside the vault, and then the vault is kept inside a warehouse.
  3. You don’t have food, chemicals, gas, or garage bands near your vault.  Because it is inside a tightly controlled warehouse, you don’t have to worry about other tenants.
  4. You can have your items shipped to anywhere in the country or world from the warehouse, even if you are not physically present.
In Washington State, an average monthly cost per vault is $35 to $50.  Other fees are an initial set up fee (“warehouse handling fee”) which is about $35 to $50 per vault.


Most professional moving companies that are connected to a nationwide van line (such as Allied, Atlas, Bekins, etc.) or who service a military base, have vaulted storage.  You can check the American Moving and Storage Association for a list of pro storage companies specializing in household goods storage.


Individuals storing their furniture until they find a home or until their new home is ready.
People who will be out of the state or country for a while and need secure storage.
Military bases storing service member’s household goods.
Contractors and homeowners doing remodeling projects.
Insurance companies.


Because your vaults will be inside a warehouse, you will have limited access.  Typically, if you want to add or remove items from your vaults,  you call to schedule an appointment (“a storage access”).   So, if you need daily or weekly access, you should consider a self-storage location.  Then, you can come and go whenever you need to.


Is vaulted storage secure?
Yes.  Every item is inventoried and placed in a vault.  The public does not have access to your vault or even to the warehouse.

Can a vault be shipped to another location?
Sometimes.  For local deliveries, the movers load the vault on a truck, brings it to your home, and then take the items out.  For long distance or interstate moves the vault stays at the warehouse.  The movers take the items out of the vaults and load them into a truck for delivery.

What if I have a couch that is too long to fit in a vault?
The vaulted warehouse has a special storage area or racks available for long, big, or very heavy items.   The warehouse stores sofas, motorcycles, kayaks, and pianos on racks so that they are not touching anything and nothing is touching them.  The monthly cost of a racked items in Washington State is usually $10 to $25 each. For a photo and more information see my article, How to Store a Sofa.

How long can items stay in a vault?
Furniture, pianos, electronics, and other items can be safely stored for many years.  Some are stored for 20 or more years.

Is vaulted storage climate controlled in Washington State?
Yes.  Because the items are wrapped in blankets, stored in wooden containers, and kept inside a building, there is very little risk of exposure.  During the year, the temperature inside the warehouse slowly adjusts, which is perfect for antiques, wooden items, pianos, and electronics.  The humidity level inside a professional household goods storage facility is close to the humidity level of a Washington state home or office.

Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Interstate Moving Interstate Moving Questions Moving Questions

What is a moving shuttle?

Small shuttle truck transferring furniture to a van line tractor-trailer

A shuttle truck transferring furniture to van line tractor-trailer

“You need a shuttle” is something you might hear from a moving company or van line.  A shuttle can be the perfect solution for your move.  But because doing a shuttle involves paying more for your move, you want to make sure you really need it.    This article explains what a shuttle is, how a shuttle works, conditions requiring a shuttle, how much it should cost, and how to know if you really need it.  You will also find some additional questions and answers about shuttles.


A shuttle is the the use of a small truck to transfer the furniture between a home and a tractor-trailer when it would be unsafe or impractical to get the tractor-trailer near the home.

To appreciate the value of a shuttle you have to look at the big picture of long distance moving.  Moving companies and van lines use tractor-trailers to move furniture long distances efficiently.  A tractor-trailer (also called a semi, 18-wheeler, or over-the-road truck) consists of the power unit (the tractor), and the semi-trailer.  The size of a trailer (45 to 53 feet long) can hold a tremendous amount of furniture, making the trip efficient and resulting in reasonable costs to move.  And the power of a tractor (about 10 times the torque of little car) makes it strong and dependable over long distances.

Tractor-trailers are most at home when they are cruising on the open highway or even parking at a dock of a commercial building.  It is when they get into residential areas and downtown settings that their size works against them.  And that’s where shuttles come in.


Typically, a driver parks the tractor-trailer in a flat, safe place near the home, such as  in a nearby parking lot or a spot off the highway.   Then, using a small truck, such as a U-Haul truck or local moving truck, the driver loads the furniture into the small truck, drives to the tractor-trailer, and then transfers the items into the tractor-trailer.  The most common method is parking the two trucks back-to-back (see the photo) so the furniture only needs to be moved a few feet.  Several trips may be needed to get everything from the home to the tractor-trailer.

The van line and driver are responsible for your furniture and belongings from start to finish.  The van line driver will direct the operation.


Here is a list of some of the top 9 common situations requiring a shuttle:

  1. Road too narrow (such as car-lined or tree-lined streets, and small roundabouts)
  2. Corner too tight or blocked by parked cars
  3. Hill too steep
  4. Ground too soft, wet, or loose
  5. Apartment complex, building, or urban zone that prohibits tractor-trailers
  6. No place to park safely
  7. No place to turn around in order to exit (such as dead ends)
  8. Insufficient height clearance (such as low branches, power lines, or bridges)
  9. Insufficient ground clearance (such as low dips)


For an interstate move (moves from one state to another) and other long distance moves (for example, moves over 35 miles in the state of Washington) the cost of the move is based on the weight of the shipment.  The cost of a shuttle is also based on the weight.  You will it see it shown on your estimate or bill as a cost per cwt (100-pounds) times the shipment weight.  The rates are set to match local labor costs so they vary from area to area of the country.   It will include the cost of the extra truck plus the extra labor needed to do the shuttle.


1. Is a shuttle a scam for the moving company to make more money?

Most movers will do almost anything to avoid a shuttle.   Drivers need to load and unload each shipment quickly to stay on schedule and make money.   Unfortunately, shuttles delay the schedule and take extra labor.  And, due to the extra handling, they increase the exposure for damage.   Van lines set the shuttle fees to provide the driver with the money needed to rent a truck and pay for the extra help needed to do the shuttle.

2. What if an estimator from one moving company  says I need a shuttle and an estimator from another moving company says I don’t?

Assuming that they are both experienced moving estimators, it usually means that the potential for getting a tractor-trailer to the location is right on the edge of success or failure.  The tolerance is so close that two people looking at it see it differently.  I recommend planning on the cost of the shuttle if it is that questionable.

3. Who makes the decision on whether I need a shuttle or not?

The final call is made by the driver of the tractor-trailer.   There is a lot that goes into the decision–some of it only the driver knows.  The tractor size, trailer design, height off the ground, placement of the kingpin, location of belly boxes, weight of the truck, and weight on board the trailer all figure into the decision.  Each truck has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to getting into tight spots.  If it is unsafe or impractical to use a tractor-trailer, a shuttle truck must be used.

4. The estimator said I didn’t need a shuttle but the driver says I do.  Who is right?

The driver makes the final decision.  Each truck is different (see question 4).  Also realize that shuttle conditions can change from day to day because of weather, road conditions, and where cars are parked.

5.  Are there other uses for a shuttle?

For small shipments, such as under 1,500 or 1,000 pounds, van lines might require a shuttle or pickup by a local moving truck and crew.  This is not due to difficult access but due to making the loading scheduling more efficient, resulting in shorter load spreads and transit times for small shipments.

6. Are the drivers good?

Moving drivers are experienced at getting tractor-trailers to homes.  I am always amazed at how a driver can get a 70-foot vehicle in and out of a tight spot.  The surprise isn’t that movers occasionally need a shuttle.  The surprise is how many  situations they are able to negotiate successfully.

7. How does the size of a tractor-trailer moving van compare with a car?

If you want to scope out the route yourself and are trying to picture the size of a moving van, here is a comparison with an average Honda Accord.


  • Honda Accord: 16-feet
  • Tractor-trailer moving van: 70-feet total


  • Honda Accord: 73-inches
  • Tractor-trailer moving van: 102-inches


Turning Radius

  • Honda Accord: 38-feet
  • Tractor-trailer moving van: Around 50-feet (varies depending on the particular truck and trailer configuration)


Height from the ground

  • Honda Accord: 58-inches
  • Tractor-trailer moving van: 13- to 13-feet-6-inches


Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Storage Questions

Where do you store stuff during construction? Six Options

During construction and renovation, items need to be cleared from construction zones.  Where can these items be stored temporarily?  Here are six options.


1. Storage in a different section of the building or home.

Security:  Good

Cost: Low

Convenience:  Good, unless it is in your way.

Main Advantage: It is cheap and easy storage.

Disadvantage: Makes an area of your home or building unusable.

Tip: Cover items with padding so items can be pushed close together or stacked.


2. Storage in another building you own or can borrow temporarily.

Security: As good as the building.

Cost: Low

Convenience: Requires moving off-site.

Main Advantage: It gets things out of the way.

Tip: Make sure it has good access for trucks and movers.


3. Storage in a container placed on-site.

Security: Medium

Cost: Medium to High.

Convenience: High.

Main Advantage: It gets things out of the way yet gives you access to your stuff if you need it.

Disadvantage: Neighbors might object to the appearance.

Tip: Make sure your neighbors are OK with it.


4. Storage in a storage-trailer that you load and then park in a secure location off-site.

Security: Depends on the location it is parked.

Cost: Low

Convenience: High.

Main Advantage: You can park it close to load it, then get it out of the way until you need the stuff back.

Disadvantage: Things must be loaded securely in the truck so they don’t get damaged while transporting the trailer.

Tip: Check it to make sure it doesn’t leak.


5. In a self-storage (mini-storage) facility.

Security: Medium

Cost: Medium

Convenience: Medium

Main Advantage: You can get to your stuff if you need to.

Disadvantage: You can’t control who stores what near your unit.

Tip: Find out how close to your unit you can park a truck.


6. Storage in a moving company warehouse

Security: High

Cost: Medium

Convenience: Medium

Main Advantage:  Protection of furniture, pianos, and electronic equipment.

Disadvantage: You can’t just walk in and get your stuff whenever you want.

Tip: Find one that is approved for military storage; it will be regularly inspected for security, water protection, and organization.


Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.


How To Check Out a Moving Company Local Moving Washington State Moving

How To Verify if a Washington State Moving Company is a Licensed Mover

Anyone moving household goods for the public in Washington State is required to be licensed.  The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) is responsible for licensing moving companies in the state. To receive and hold a license, a mover has to do several things to protect the public:

  • Use the rates in the state tariff.
  • Follow the consumer protection rules of the WUTC.
  • File annual financial statements and reports.
  • Show proof of public liability, property damage, and vehicle insurance.
  • Participate in Washington Labor and Industries’ workers compensation insurance program.
  • File safety and operation reports.

A moving company might say they are licensed, but how would you know?  Now you can find out for yourself.  Verify a mover’s license at WUTC website: Click to go to list

For more WUTC info: Click to go to moving company section of WUTC site

Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Interstate Moving Local Moving

Moving Can Cause Destructive Rage

If you’re ready to take a break from sorting and packing, here’s the perfect book for you.  On Moving is a book about moving, from the experience of several writers. Maybe you can relate to this:

For author Eugene O’Neill the sight of a packed box could prompt “uncontrollable bouts of destructive rage.” He trashed his room at Princeton and once took a machete to the furniture in his parents’ hotel suite.

(From the review by Amy Finnerty in the New York Times.)

Or, maybe you should wait until you move and get settled to read these stories.

The book is: On Moving: A Writer’s Meditation on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again by Louise DeSalvo


Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Moving Questions

The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Loading a Rented Moving Truck

Rental truck

How many pads do you need to load a moving truck?

The biggest mistake you can make in loading a rented moving truck has nothing to do with where you place the heavy items or what you load first. The biggest (and most common) mistake is not using enough pads. By pads I mean the thick quilted covers that movers use to wrap furniture in. The best ones are made like a heavy-duty quilt, not a simple blanket.

If you load a wooden dresser in a truck and then drive it a mile or 3,000 miles, the only thing keeping it from getting rubbed and scratched is the pad covering it.

As obvious as the need for padding appears, some people do not use any type of furniture protection. And even those who understand the need for padding do not use enough. To load a truck, they might set out three or four of their quilts to wrap items in. Or, they rent 10 pads from the rental company.

If you think 5, 10, or even 20 pads are plenty, you probably don’t have enough. How many pads are enough?

Here are the number of pads a professional moving truck is equipped with.

  • A 24-foot to 26-foot truck has 50-100 pads.
  • A semi-trailer has 200-300 pads.

Even the best mover in the world can’t load a truck correctly without enough pads available.    If you rent a truck from a company such as U-Haul, Budget, or Penske; you can rent or buy pads from them.  Rent as many as you need to wrap every piece of furniture in.  Many items need two or three pads to completely cover them.  Non-furniture items need pads too.

Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.


Moving Questions

How Do You Move A Piano Up Stairs?

Girl playing piano

Enjoying a Piano

Moving a piano up a flight of stairs takes the right combination of equipment, strength, and skill.

  1. Equipment: A piano board and attachable dolly are invaluable. Other items needed are floor covering and pads for the banister or railings.
  2. Strength: Although a small piano can be moved by two movers, moves up or down stairs or heavy pianos need additional movers involved.  Moving a heavy piano up stairs requires three or four movers.  To find out how many movers you need, divide the weight of the piano by the number of movers you have.  For example, a 300-pound piano moved by a three-man crew makes each person responsible for 100 pounds.
  3. Skill: Having more than three or four movers might not help because a narrow stairway can limit the number of movers who can work next to each other — making it even more important to have the right equipment and skills involved.

Pianos and stairs can be tricky work, but check out the video to see how to make it fun :  Piano Staircase.

Piano Stairs from Ibrahim Nergiz on Vimeo.

Article by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.

Storage Questions

How Do You Store A Sofa?

Rack storage

Professional sofa storage system

Sofas need to be wrapped in plastic (shrinkwrap) then placed on rack shelving.    By preparing them for storage, they are protected from dust, moisture, and rubbing.   Sofas can be stored safely like this for years.

Large chairs can be given the same treatment.

Answer by Don Warner



I love to plan and coordinate moving, especially for critical or complex moves.  My clients are busy organized people who want their moves to go smoothly.  Let’s talk about your moving plans.