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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

You're moving and you've got questions. Other people are moving, too, and they've got some of the same questions. And we've got answers to those questions that fall in the overlapping portion of the Moving Questions Venn diagram. If you have some more original questions, though - like can you service a move at midnight on New Year's Eve? - don't hesitate to give us a call!

  • General
  • Pricing
  • Insurance
  • During & After The Move
  • Local Moves
  • Long Distance Moves
  • International Moves

Nope! This is probably one of the most frequent questions we receive from customers, and our answer is, by all means, leave clothes, linens, towels, and anything else that’s soft inside dressers, chests, and trunks. We do, however, recommend that you pack non-clothing items in furniture like bedside tables, buffets, and desk drawers because they can either slide out when we move them or they can damage the interior finish of your piece when we lift and transport them. 

Yes, we’re fully licensed by both the Iowa DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency responsible for regulating interstate carriers and improving highway safety. Our trucks, our cargo, and our employees are also covered by insurance, so if something should go wrong you and your goods are protected.  

For local moves we charge hourly plus a flat drive fee to cover our travel time between our shop and the work sites (out and back). Our hourly rates are higher at the end of the week and at the turn of the month (when demand is highest), and so if you have some flexibility and can move mid-week and/or mid-month you’ll save money. For long distance moves, we charge by weight and distance. We’ll perform an on-site or virtual survey to estimate the weight of your belongings, but we’ll use a truck scale to find out the exact weight and charges on move day. You can purchase full repair or replacement coverage with either a local or a long distance job, but that’s an optional extra. Other optional extras including packing, crating, storage, and unpacking. 

If you’re scheduled for a beginning of day appointment then the movers will arrive between 8 and 8:30am. If you’re scheduled for a late morning, mid-day, or afternoon arrival, you have an approximately 3-hour arrival window when the crew could arrive. You’ll receive your crew leaders name and cell at the beginning of the day, though, so if you need an update on their progress, feel free to text him or her. You’ll be updated via text as they complete their earlier jobs, and then they’ll get in touch when they’re on the way. 

On your spouse’s day off but you have to go in to work! 😉 Our hourly rates are cheaper mid-week and mid-month (since more people want to move at the end of the week and at the end of the month), so if you can move on a Tuesday or Wednesday, instead of a Friday or Saturday, then you could save some money.

Of course, you can call last-minute and we’ll do our best to schedule your move for the exact date and time you’d like. Unfortunately, though, we sometimes book up for particular dates. And, very rarely, whole weeks are booked up on our schedule, especially the last weeks of June and July when peak moving season is at its peaky-est. In general, if you call at least 2 weeks before your move we should have good availability. (If you hope to move on one very particular day in June or July, we recommend calling at least 4 weeks before your move!) If you have some date flexibility, though, a 2-week lead time should be just fine. 

If we’re doing the packing, then you really just need to pack your personal items and clothes for the time between your old and new homes and any take care of any items that we’re prohibited by law from moving. You’ll want to take your own essential documents (like passports and birth certificates), high value jewelry, and plants, if you’re moving them. You’ll also need to safely dispose of all household hazardous waste, like waste oil, paints, turpentines, thinners, gasoline, diesel, propane tanks, and any other flammables or explosives. Otherwise, we can take care of the rest. 

If you’re doing the packing, then a good rule of thumb is, “If it can fit in a box, it should be packed in a box.” Don’t forget wall art, mirrors, lamps, and especially lamp shades. If those aren’t packed they’re very likely to get damaged on a truck. 

Yes, we move pianos, whether they be upright or grand. Piano move pricing is flat rate billed (rather than hourly), and to provide an estimate we’ll need to know the type and size of your piano and the number of steps to be navigated at both origin and destination. 

Yes, and yes. We’re unique among small independent movers in that we specialize in long-distance moves. Our top-notch crews will move you anywhere in the country, whether it be Tempe, AZ or Missoula, MT. Along with our trusted partners, we also provide moving services to anywhere in the world. 

We do our absolute best to make sure that your move happens on-time and on-budget. Winter weather in Iowa, though, can be both unpredictable and downright unfriendly. In rare circumstances, we could delay a move start, or postpone a move date, to protect the health and safety of our crews. We closely follow the National Weather Services forecasts, and should there be a watch or advisory in your area, we’ll be in touch to discuss options. Should there be a Winter Storm Warning during your scheduled move time, we will very likely need to delay or postpone your move for the safety of our crew and your possessions. 

We’d rather not move your plants since an air-conditioned passenger vehicle is a much better way to keep plants alive and safe. If moving your plants on our trucks is your only option, we’ll be happy to attempt to get them safely to your destination. But be forewarned, the backs of moving trucks are often lethal to plants in both mid-winter and mid-summer, and your plants might not make it alive. It should go without saying that we can’t be held responsible for premature plant demise. 

Yes, please do! Otherwise they’re likely to get damaged in transit. We’re happy to pack your lamps and lamp shades, as well as your wall art and mirrors, if you’re intimidated by the prospect. (Just let us know you’d like us to do that in advance.) It’s really not that hard, though. For table lamps just find a box large enough for the base, wrap and pad well, seal the box well, and presto you’re done. You should pack the shade, the harp (that’s the two-pronged wire structure that suspends the shade above the bulb), the finial (the decorative nut on top), and the bulb all in a separate box and label it as a shade TOP LOAD ONLY so we know to load it on top of a tier. 

You can get specialty mirror boxes from us or from Uhaul or a big box retailer. Just be sure to pad the edges of the painting or mirror well and it’ll be just fine. 

Our per-mover hourly rates vary by day of the week and time of month, but typically they fall between $50 and $65 per mover per hour, truck included. That means a 2-mover crew and moving truck usually costs between $100 and $130 per hour. We also charge a flat local drive for all travel between the warehouse and the work sites (usually 30 or 45 minutes), and full repair or replacement coverage is an optional add-on. To tally the final bill we round up to the nearest quarter of an hour increment. 

We accept most forms of payment, including cash, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or credit and debit card. For credit cards, we add a 2.9% service fee that is a direct charge from our credit card processor. For long distance moves, you can also pay by EFT on-line from your personal checking account.  

For packing services we charge for labor and materials. For local moves that means we charge our standard hourly rate plus all materials used. For long distance moves, we charge a per carton rate for labor and bill for all materials used. 

There’s a huge range in costs for local moves because there’s a huge range in the amount of household goods in each home. A student in a studio apartmen will have a lot less than a family of 5 living in a 2400 square foot home. In general, though, you can expect an apartment move to cost between $400 and $1000, a condo or townhouse move to cost between $700 and $1400, and a full house move to cost between $1200 and $3500. 

Unless you’ve set up direct billing with your company or your employer in advance, payment for your move is due upon completion of the work. Your crew leader will collect payment and give you an itemized receipt. If you’d like an electronic copy from Quickbooks for any reason, just send us an email and we’ll be happy to send it on. 

Your moving estimate should be quite accurate (within 10%) if your move inventory is very accurate. (An inaccurate local move inventory is the most common cause of inaccurate estimates.) Of course, there will always be unknown in estimating the length of time a project will take, from weather, to complicated disassembly because of Ikea-level fastener numbers or a stripped screw, long carries or tight stairways. But most moves fall squarely within the estimated cost range.  

We typically charge for wardrobe boxes, and always charge for them on long distance moves. But for local moves we can allow free use of wardrobe boxes if you unload the clothes and return the boxes to the crew before they depart.  

For most local moves we don’t charge for stairs. If your local move includes a piano, though, and it needs to go up or down 5 or more steps, then we charge a $10 per step fee that gets distributed in its entirety to the crew members as hazard pay for their piano stair climbing. 

For long distance moves we only assess a stair fee if there’s more than one or two flights to navigate at origin or destination. We do however, have other accessorial fees that could come into play for your move, including an elevator access fee, a long carry fee, or a shuttle fee. You move estimator will be sure to go over these things with you during the estimating process so there are no surprises. 

No, Iowa does not collect sales tax on moving services. 

Yes! If you’re a non-profit we’ll service your move and then make a donation to your organization equal to 40% of your move costs. 

Yes, we offer free weight-based damage coverage of 60 cents per pound with every move. This is a minimal level of coverage that almost certainly won’t cover full repair or replacement costs in the event an item is damaged.

We also offer optional full-value repair or replacement coverage for an additional fee. This coverage, called Full Value Protection, means that any item damaged in Spine Moving’s possession will, at our option, be repaired to preexisting condition or replaced with an item of like kind and quality. If you’re interested in this optional coverage, please ask your sales coordinator for details. 

As required by federal code, we include the cost of Full Value Protection coverage with every estimate but you can decline it at any time, all the way up until the crew arrives to load your possessions. In order to select Full Value Protection, you need to assign a total coverage limit to your shipment that must be at least $6 per pound, which is, in case you were curious, equal to $12,000 per ton. Most people choose the $6 per pound minimum valuation for their goods since it’s the most economical Full Value coverage option, but you can choose a higher coverage limit if it better meets your needs. Finally, you choose a deductible for your coverage. While most people choose the $0 deductible option, you can select a more affordable $250 or $500 deductible.  

Since you’ve selected Full Value Protection, we’re contractually liable for repairing or replacing any and every single item that might get damaged in your shipment up to the coverage limit you select. Since we’re assuming financial liability for any damage, it’s important for us to know what the most costly items in your shipment are so that we can do everything we can to protect them. If, for example, you have a painting valued in excess of $5000.00, we’ll crate it in stead of boxing it. if your bike is a fancy $4000 carbon racing bike, we’ll want to box it to protect both it and us. If you don’t tell us that bike is worth $8000, we load it unboxed and it gets damaged, then our liability could be limited to $100 per pound.  

You should include any items valued in excess of $100 per pound. We know that probably isn’t an easy thing to do for non-movers, though, so we also suggest including any small light thing valued over $2000, and any larger, heavier thing valued over $5000. The basic idea is to give us fair warning about the things you own that will require the most TLC and packing protection. 

We’re happy to send a Certificate of Insurance to your building management. Please let us know what business name and address we should put on the certificate, and any other legalese they’r requesting, and we’ll have our agent send it out. He can usually do that within 1 business day. 

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We offer 60 cents per pound of damage coverage free with every move. If you’d like us to assume contractual liability for the full value of repairing or replacing any damaged item, then you can choose Customer’s Choice Coverage on your local move. For each $50 of premium you receive $1,000 or repair or replacement costs coverage. Most people choose $1,000 of coverage (over 98% of damages are under $1,000), but you can select $2,000 of coverage for $100, $3,000 of coverage for $150, and so forth. (Hence, the name, Customer’s Choice!) 

The movers will be happy to take extra items that weren’t included on the move inventory. If it’s just a few items, it’s unlikely to affect your total move costs. But if you add enough items your local move costs could increase because of the additional time required to move additional items. And if you’re moving long distance, additional items will increase your shipment weight and thereby increase your final charges. Again, a few items will make very little difference, but the more items you add the more your costs could rise. 

You can pack liquids if they’re unopened (like unopened wine and vinegar bottles), but we strongly recommend against packing previously opened liquids as they’re very likely to leak on the truck and potentially damage your other items. 

You can certainly pack non-perishable food, but if you’re moving into self-storage we recommend that avoid packing food. (If you do pack food, though, avoid packing previously opened containers and boxes to help prevent critter infestation.)

We have many truck sizes (from tractor trailers all the way down to little delivery trucks) and we’ll schedule a truck suitable for the size of your move. Should we need more space than expected, we’ll dispatch another truck at no additional cost. 

You’re welcome to call the office at 319-325-6683 and talk to your move coordinator. Or if you’d prefer to speak to one of the owners, you can call Eric on his cell at 319-325-2370. 

Your crew will be happy to disconnect your washer and dryer and reconnect them at your new home. (Please note that all dryer plugs are not the same and so your new home’s outlet might not be compatible with your current dryer plug.)

They can also disconnect and reconnect your stereo and TV, but they’re not trained to affix mounts to walls or run wires through walls and conduits. 

It happens very rarely but sadly we have to pay the ticket. You won’t be charged.  

We rely on you to give us accurate instructions during the initial walk-through to be sure we’re taking only the items you want to bring with you. If quite a bit is staying, we’ll mark items with red or green painter’s tape to help remind us. And finally, we’ll ask you to do a final walkthrough at the conclusion of the load to make sure we didn’t miss anything. 

Absolutely! They’ll make certain you’re completely satisfied with their placement of every single piece of furniture and box. And if you want to try that couch out in a few different spots, your crew will be more than happy to accommodate. 

This varies according to the day, the size and the scope of the job, and the crew’s proximity to their favorite lunch spots. (Shout out to Nodo!) Generally, though, the crew breaks for lunch on local moves between the load and the unload. Don’t worry, you won’t be billed for the time they’re breaking for lunch. 

Sometimes they eat on-site. For this they usually only take 15 to 30 minutes. And again, they’ll be sure to stop the billing clock during this time.  

Please reach out via email or phone and we’ll be happy to make things right. You’ll also be sent a post-move email with a link to report damages and that information will immediately be shared with your crew leader, the owners, and the customer care case manager.  

This is a tough one. We usually tell people that tips aren’t expected but always appreciated. We also say that kindness and appreciation are the best forms of tipping. And drinks or snacks make great tips, too. But if people insist we give them a number, then we tell them that a $20 tip per day of work makes any mover we know very happy.   

Yes, please do! It’ll save you time and expense and it’ll save space on the truck. Please remove other items from drawers, however, like supplies and staplers from desk drawers, or books and dishes from sideboards. 

If you’re scheduled for a beginning of day appointment then the movers will arrive between 8 and 8:30am. If you’re scheduled for a late morning, mid-day, or afternoon arrival, you have an approximately 3-hour arrival window when the crew could arrive. You’ll receive your crew leaders name and cell at the beginning of the day, though, so if you need an update on their progress, feel free to text him or her. You’ll be updated via text as they complete their earlier jobs, and then they’ll get in touch when they’re on the way. 

We’re always happy to help in whatever way we can! Of course, the more advance notice we have of any last-minute packing needs, the better prepared (and more efficient) we’ll be. If you can let us know the day, or even the evening before, we’ll be able to bring the appropriate materials and crew members with us to make sure your move goes off without a hitch. Or if you don’t know you need more help until the morning of (after a long night of packing!), be sure to answer your phone when your crew leader calls so that you can request they bring boxes to finish the packing. Thanks!

Taylor Roth and Bill Hoke, our two crew dispatching gurus, determine the ideal crew size for your move based on a myriad of factors, from move size, to manpower needs (for items like grand pianos, for example), to weather, equipment availability, as well as various other factors. Rest assured that if a crew is a little larger or smaller than you were expecting, you’ll only be charged for the time the crew is working and so your estimate will still be accurate. A larger crew will just take less time and therefore keep your move within your expected cost range. 

Ideally, you’d be present with the movers from the start of the move until the conclusion so that you’re able to answer any questions that might arise. (You’re the expert on your things, so we like to be able to go straight to the expert with any questions.) Of course, if you can’t be there for the whole move, that’s just fine. Ideally the crew can do a walkthrough with you 1) upon arrival at the origin 2) upon conclusion of the load (to make sure we got everything), 3) upon arrival at the destination, and 4) upon completion of the unload. If you can’t be present at anytime during your move, we ask that you provide contact info for the crew for you or a representative who can make decisions on your behalf should any questions arise. Thanks!

If you’re moving into storage at our warehouse, you don’t need to be present. We’ll load your goods into high quality plywood vaults and then store them in our secure warehouse. If you’re moving to a self-storage facility then you might want to be present (at least for part of the unload) to let the crew know how you’d like the unit loaded. (For example, you might want wardrobe boxes left for last so that you can access seasonal clothes that you’ve placed in storage.)   

They can’t take any hazardous materials, including explosives, combustibles, or other hazardous chemicals. That would include propane tanks and cook-fuel canisters, gasoline, oil, paints, solvents, lacquers, insecticide, herbicide, bleach, ammonia etc. We will transport personal care items and safe household cleaners if they’re packed in a sealed rubberized tote that’s clearly labelled. We also can’t take previously opened kitchen liquids, like oils and vinegars. And while we’re not legally restricted from transporting plants, we try to avoid it because they do poorly in the back of a truck.  

Yes, please do! Otherwise they’re likely to get damaged in transit. We’re happy to pack your lamps and lamp shades, as well as your wall art and mirrors, if you’re intimidated by the prospect. (Just let us know you’d like us to do that in advance.) It’s really not that hard, though. For table lamps just find a box large enough for the base, wrap and pad well, seal the box well, and presto you’re done. You should pack the shade, the harp (that’s the two-pronged wire structure that suspends the shade above the bulb), the finial (the decorative nut on top), and the bulb all in a separate box and label it as a shade TOP LOAD ONLY so we know to load it on top of a tier. 

You can get specialty mirror boxes from us or from Uhaul or a big box retailer. Just be sure to pad the edges of the painting or mirror well and it’ll be just fine. 

We know, we know! Garages are tough. Just box what can fit in a box and we’ll take care of the rest. If you want to be super organized you can bundle like-sized garden tools together with tape or twine. Don’t worry about packing your tool chest tools if it’s on wheels – we can roll that right on the truck. And whatever it is, if it’s in the garage and too big for a box, we’ll figure out a way to load it safely. 

This is a tricky one. The easy answer is yes, usually, for a nominal charge that compensates us for the loss of one or more work days for that truck. But during our busy season, we might not have enough trucks available to leave them idle. We can always load into our storage for a few days, but that would obviously be more expensive since we’d be moving your items twice. 

While we charge an hourly per-crew-member rate for local moves, for long distance moves we charge by weight and distance. Before we arrive for the load we’ll weigh the truck on a giant 80-foot-scale to get the tare weight. Then after we’re done loading we’ll weigh the truck again to get your total shipment weight. If you’ve selected a non-binding estimate for your move, you’ll be sent your actual charges once the truck is weighed and your total charges are calculated. Our in-home estimating experts do their best to make sure your weight and cost estimate is conservative, so unless you’ve added items to your shipment your total costs should stay the same as or even be lower than the estimate. If you choose a binding estimate your costs will stay the same whether the shipment is lighter or heavier than the estimate, as long as you haven’t added additional items or services.

Of course! The crew will place all boxes and furniture where you want them at your new home, and reassemble everything they disassembled for safe transport. If you purchased something for your new home and it needs to be assembled, ask your crew members nicely and they’ll be happy to set that up for you, too. They’re good like that! 

Nope! Full Value Protection, which offers full repair or replacement on any items that are damaged in handling or transit (with some exceptions), is completely optional. Included with every move is a minimal level of weight-based damage coverage. This free coverage is 60 cents per pound of damaged article. That means if a table weighing 100 pounds were damaged, then Spine Moving would be legally liable for $60 of repair or replacement coverage. With Full Value Protection, though, Spine Moving would be liable for the cost to repair the table to pre-existing condition or replace it with an item of like kind and value. 

You could already be covered in a similar (though not identical) way under your homeowner’s policy, so be sure to check with your agent about the details of your move-related coverage. 

Transit time for your shipment depends on the size of your shipment and how far you’re moving. Generally, the larger your shipment the shorter your transit time, and the smaller your shipment the longer your transit time. Similarly, the farther away you’re moving, the longer you delivery spread. In general, we’re able to deliver most interstate shipments within 3 to 7 days. 

Your delivery date spread is the series of days bounded by the earliest and latest dates we promise to deliver your shipment. The purpose of the delivery date spread is to allow us flexibility in planning our long distance trips so we can achieve maximum flexibility and value for all of our customers. Generally, the larger your shipment is, the narrower your date spread, while the smaller your shipment is the longer the date spread. If for any reason you need a tighter delivery window, you can pay a per-day premium to make your delivery work best for your schedule. 

In most cases, we’ll be able to let you know your exact delivery date and time no less than 5 business days before pick-up. (If you’re moving into storage, we’ll give you an exact delivery date no less than 5 days before your earliest delivery date in the delivery date spread.)  

Unfortunately, no. You should, however, let us know what day works best for you within your delivery date spread and we’ll do our best to make that delivery date happen. If you’re unable to take delivery on a particular day of your date spread, please give us as much notice as possible so we can adjust our trip accordingly. If we schedule your delivery on a date within your delivery date spread and you’re then unavailable to receive delivery, there could be additional wait charges to pay for the crews time and hotel charges. 

In the highly unlikely event we can’t deliver within your delivery window (due to equipment failures etc.), then we’ll be happy to cover your food and hotel expenses for the day or two you have to wait. 

Certainly. They’ll be expected to direct the drew in all furniture and box placement in your absence. If you can be available by phone for questions that would be ideal.

We and our overseas partners will work with you to navigate customs and make sure your shipment isn’t delayed in your new home country’s port of entry due to improper documentation. Your move coordinator will make sure your shipment is properly documented from door-to-door so that there are no surprise and no delays. 

It depends, of course, on where you’re moving, but if when moving overseas you can expect a delivery timeframe of 3 to 7 weeks. You’ll be given a custom delivery window when you request a quote so that you can plan your travel. 

A delivery window gives you both the earliest and latest expected delivery date for your shipment’s arrival. The window is based on the average time it takes for shipments like yours to be transported from point of origin to final destination. Since it’s just an average, though, your actual shipment could arrive sooner or later. 

We work with two premier moving companies on the east coast, Able Moving and Storage in DC, and Gentle Giant Moving, based in Boston. In general, we’ll be responsible for all packing, prepping, wrapping, and crating of your goods and our partners will handle overseas shipping and the final mile delivery in your new country of residence. 

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Moving Checklist

The Bard once said, "What to do? When to do it? Those are the questions." Okay, he didn't say that for certain, but if he ever moved he could have. To help answer those questions, we've created the Spine Moving Checklist: A mostly complete list of what to do and when to do it. Shakespeare would have loved it.

Planning For Moving Day

You know how the saying goes: An ounce of planning is worth a pound of packing tape. Moving your entire household isn't quite as complex as a moon landing, but it can sometimes feel like it. It's best to follow a careful plan that will keep you on track for a gentle touch down at your new home.

Online Estimates

Provide us with some basic information about your move, and we'll start working on your cost estimate right away. For local moves we charge by the hour. For long distance moves, we charge by weight, so we'll schedule a home survey to create the most accurate move inventory.

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