When moving antiques, grand pianos or extremely valuable possessions, a standard removals company might not be qualified for the job.
In six years working as an antique furniture removalist, Adam Grice has moved some weird and wonderful objects, such as an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to 300BC, which once housed an Egyptian mummy.
"Most removalists wouldn't have touched it, but I knew that we could create a timber crate and strap the sarcophagus to a backboard to support its weight lying down," says Grice.
Whereas other removalists might shy away from touching a 300BC artefact, Grice thrives on logistical challenges.
Based in Moss Vale, his company Southern Removals operates an antiques and art removals division dedicated to moving precious items. It recently relocated a bookcase worth $150,000 after another removalist company smashed all four glass doors while dismantling it incorrectly.
"A lot of removalists don't understand how pieces of furniture come apart," says Grice. "French furniture has pin hinges, which means you can lift their doors straight off. Many antique pieces have ornate decorations can't withstand the weight of too many blankets."
A removalist company specialising in antiques would know that Victorian furniture made of high-polish mahogany is very soft, and marks easily. They'll understand the origins and techniques used to construct your furniture, and use twice as many blankets to protect your goods.
Of course, specialist removalists come at a premium. One of Southern Removals' clients paid $2500 to move a marble table up one storey using a crane and forklift. Another paid $400 for a custom-built crate to house a chandelier worth $20,000. But for peace of mind, the investments paid off.
Pianos are another household item that require special attention. "A lot of removalists don't know whether upright pianos can be tipped on their end, or don't know how to take grand pianos apart properly," says Vicki Hill, co-owner at Des Woods Piano Removals.
Many removalists will claim they can move anything when you speak to them on the phone, only to change their mind upon arriving at your property, leaving you stuck with a piano in an otherwise empty home.
Before you make a booking, ask the removalist company if they offer special equipment, like hydraulic lifts, which lift pianos from ground to truck level. Other useful equipment includes forklifts, straps, trollies, custom-built crates and piano trolleys.
"A lot of removalists will say, 'Yes, that's fine we can move anything' and undercut specialist companies on price. But then when they get stuck half way up the steps with your piano, they'll call companies like ours to get them unstuck," says Hill.
If you can't find a removalist company specialising in large, awkward or rare items, then you'll have to give your standard removalist company advance warning — and lots of time — to move any big ticket items safely.
Remember, these jobs can't be rushed. A few extra hours devoted to moving your most precious possessions could save you thousands of dollars at the end of the day.