How to Prepare for Your In-Home Estimate

An in-home estimate allows moving companies to calculate your moving quote based on your furniture and household items. A moving professional visits your home to prepare a list of your furniture and asks questions about the details of your move. This helps them provide the most accurate estimate possible.

We recommend that you schedule up to three estimates in order to compare prices and find the moving company that best fits your needs. Before you begin your estimate process, follow these steps to prepare for your in-home survey.

Setting up a survey

In order to set up your in-home estimate, you must first find a reputable moving company that services your area. If you’re still looking for a certified moving company, reference our find a moving company tool. Once you’ve chosen your three moving companies, you’re ready to reach out and request your in-home estimates by phone or online.

Ask each moving company, or check on their website, about their survey requirements. Some moving companies ask their clients to fill out an inventory checklist for their furniture called a cube sheet. This works best for homes with two or fewer bedrooms. Other moving companies offer the option of a video survey. Most, however, require an in-home survey with a member of their team. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for yours.

When to book your in-home estimate

It’s best to book your in-home estimate as early as possible. The date of your move will likely influence the price and availability of your preferred moving company, so opting for a survey well ahead of moving day will help you determine your best option.

Traditionally, four weeks before your move is enough time to get everything set. If you’re on a tighter moving schedule, being prepared for your survey is even more important. You should schedule surveys with at least three moving companies as soon as possible and vet them thoroughly to find your best option quickly.

 couple packing - in home estimate

Take Inventory of your furniture

In order to prepare for your in-home survey, make a list of the belongings you plan to move to your new home. This will come in handy when you do a walk-through of your home with the moving company representative. It will also speed up the estimate process and help you and the rep stay on the same page.

Label items that you won't be taking with you

Keep your survey accurate by clearly labeling any furniture you’re not taking with you. Use brightly-colored sticky notes or tape to make sure the moving professional is aware of the designation. If you're undecided on whether you’re bringing certain items, it’s best to include them in the estimate, the inventory list can always be amended. A good rule of thumb is that it’s better to overestimate than underestimate.

Determine your service requirements

Moving companies offer much more than a truck and helping hands. Ask your moving company about the additional moving services they offer during your survey. They will take care of bringing the right crew and equipment on moving day. Here are a couple examples of services a moving company might offer:

  • Packing and unpacking services
  • Long-term and short-term storage
  • Crating
  • Piano and antique moving
  • Furniture disassembly and assembly

A complete list of services should be available on the moving company’s website. You can also request a list from a company representative.

Be prepared for survey day

Make sure that at least one decision maker in your household is present for your appointment. Be prepared to show the moving company rep any hidden spaces with furniture like garages, crawl spaces, attics, or sheds. Before the rep arrives, do a dry run of all of your belonging to ensure you don’t miss anything.

 kids with box - in home estimate

Prepare your questions

Create a list of questions to ask each moving company during your survey. You will need these answers to help make your final decision. To get started, here are 15 questions to ask a moving company before you choose one. Here are some examples:

  • Are packing services included?
  • How do you determine cost? Do you charge by the hour or weight?
  • Are there any extra fees I should know about, such as for flights of stairs or distance the moving truck is parked from the door?
  • Is this a binding estimate? If the estimate is non-binding, you may end up with extra fees on moving day.
  • Is your moving company licensed and insured?

Here is a list of moving terms to help you understand any moving company lingo.

After your survey

Consider these additional questions after the survey is complete.

  • Did the moving company representative arrive on time?
  • Is the representative dressed professionally?
  • Was the representative polite?
  • Was the representative able to answer all your questions or make arrangements to get you the answers?
  • Were you given copies of important documents?

Your moving company representative should be knowledgeable, prompt, and professional. Updater certified moving companies are pre-vetted and represent the best in the business, but if you have any concerns about your survey you should contact your moving company directly.

 couple unpacking - in home estimate

Don’t stress, trust your preparation

Getting an in-home estimate, along with the dozens of other moving tasks you’re responsible for, can feel overwhelming. When it comes to finding the best moving company for your needs, a little preparation goes a long way. If you feel unsure about any element of your move, ask questions. In the end, you should choose the moving company who makes you feel confident going into moving day.

Need help getting your move organized? Check out our checklist for moving with all of the moving tasks you’ll need to complete after your survey.


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