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Please note that if you are looking for a piano move, please do not complete this form. This is for non-piano related items. Please click on this link: Get a Piano Moving Quote to fill in the correct form for getting your piano moved. If you are looking for both, then please complete the piano quote form first and then add the additional items you are looking for in the additional information box at the end of the piano quote form.
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How to count stairs
You may think this page is pretty funny, but would it surprise you to know that most people count their stairs incorrectly? It might also surprise you that most people do not have any idea how many stairs they have in or in front of their home, and if they were to guess, they would most likely guess wrong. Stair counting is not something we normally think about. People wonder why they sometimes get charged more than what the were quoted. The number one reason is counting your stairs incorrectly. The second reason is describing your staircase incorrectly. Let’s start with some of the basic mistakes.
1. What is a staircase?
A staircase is a way of access (upward and downward) consisting of a set of steps.
2. Are steps and stairs different?
To the mover: NO! Every time the mover has to lift his foot to go up or down in a staircase, he/she considers that a step or stair. You will hear some people argue that steps are outside and stairs are inside and since you are quoting on the amount of stairs being moved over, that the steps are free. This is a myth.
3. Should I count my stairs from the top or the bottom?
You should always count from the bottom up to the top. For some reason people often (but not always) miscount a stair if they are counting downward.
4. Does the landing count as a step?
Yes it does. It amazes me how many people like to argue this one. Remember that when counting stairs, you are counting how many times you have to lift your foot. If you have to lift your foot to get onto the landing, then it counts as a step.
5. Are they going to charge me for one step?
Generally not. All moving companies charge extra for moving up or down each staircase they come across in a move to cover the extra time, risk and exposure it gives them for possible damge and personal injury. As soon as you have two or more steps together in a group, you technically have a staircase. Most moving companies will charge a flat rate for each staircase and only charge for staircases with a certain number of stairs or more in them. For most companies this magic point is 5 steps. For example, if you have 5 or more steps or stairs together in a group they consider this a billable flight of stairs. If you have 4 or less, they will let it go and not charge anything.
If you are on the border of this transition point, never say to the mover “Why are you charging me for one step?” He/she is billing for five or more steps (stick to the facts), which is a big deal to the mover. As soon as you add one step into a move you increase the odds of a damage occuring in your move by a minimum of four times. Just because he/she is a good mover and makes the job look easy to you, does not mean it was. Remember you are paying for the mover’s expertise to get over this obstacle safely.
If they use a ramp to get over the stairs, do they still count the stairs and charge for the staircase?
Absolutely. You are paying to get your item over a major difficulty in your move. Most movers do not have this type of equipment and show up with a few moving pads, hopefully a dolly and have to manhandle your item over every obstacle they come across. Ramps and special stair climbing equipment for getting over staircases are very expensive and this charge helps pay for this equipment and the setup time involved in using it. If you are fortunate or wise enough to hire a mover that uses this type of equipment, you need to remember that they have just reduced the odds of damage in your move. They probably have also saved you money by reducing the number of people required to perform your move safely.
How to describe staircase
When describing your staircase to a moving company, never sugar coat it and try to make it sound easier than what it is. It is always better for the mover to expect the worse and be ready for it when he shows up, than for him/her to get there and not have the right number of people of equipment to do the job. Moving day with a house closing is stressful enough; you do not want to mover to say: “Sorry sir, if I’d have know, I would have brought more movers or I would have brought this equipment to do your job or I’m not qualified to do this job safely.”
1. Straight Flight of Stairs:
A straight flight of stairs is a staircase that does not have any bends or curves in it. A straight flight of stairs must also have lots of room at the top and bottom to get on and off the staircase.
2. Straight Flight of Stairs with a tight turn at top or bottom:
This is a straight staircase that has a moving obstacle at the top or bottom of the staircase. The staircase itself is straight, but it has a tight turn at the top or bottom. The turn or landing is usually the width of the staircase: approximately 2-3 feet square, which makes it difficult for movers to get large objects on and off the staircase. Notice the wall at the top of the stairs. You immediately have to turn left of right when you get to the top. The distance from the top of the stairs to the wall is less than 3 feet distance. Most pianos are 5-6 feet long and 2 feet wide. This is a big deal to the mover, because half of the piano and half the movers are still on the staircase while trying to make this turn. The same is true if this turn was at the bottom of the staircase.
3. Flight of stairs with turn in it:
This is a flight of stairs with landing in it. This is a staircase that contains one or more landings in it. For example, 6 steps, than a square landing the length and width of a stair, than another 6 steps. These staircases are extremely difficult and tight. You want a mover that knows what he is doing to attempt this move.
4. Flight of stairs with a pie shape turn in it:
This is the same as a flight with turn in it, except that the landing is made up of 2 or 3 pie shape stairs instead of a square landing. These staircase are probably the most difficult moves to do, because there is usually a height restraint problem as well. Notice the ceiling in this picture. Not all pianos will fit up or down these staircases, because the move is so tight. You generally only have one chance to do it right.
5. Spiral Staircase:
This is a flight of stairs that is not straight and curves all the way up or down. Most people don’t think these staircases are not a big deal, because they generally look open and have lots of room. To a mover, moving a big object like a piano; these staircases scream danger and automatically require extra manpower. What most people do not realize, is that because the staircase is not straight, the stairs are not the equivalent to a flat surface. As soon as a piano mover starts moving the piano up this style of staircase, the piano will immediately want to throw itself into that nice curved wall. If they do not have the right manpower on this job, to make sure it goes smoothly, you can expect damage to your furniture and walls.
6. Staircase with a curve in it:
This is a spiral staircase, but some people get it confused with straight staircases. This is because half the staircase is straight and half the staircase has a spiral in it and they only describe the easy half of the staircase to the movers. This picture is not the best example, but does show the straight section at the bottom and the curve in the top half of the staircase. This style of staircase is usually more difficult than the spiral staircase, because the turn is much tighter.
NOTE! Describing a staircase incorrectly can have serious implications:
1. It could cause the mover to walk away from doing your job due to insufficient manpower. This is a huge deal if you house is closing.
2. It could cause you to encur extra charges on your job to cover the extra time, manpower, risk and exposure in doing your move.
3. It could cause your item or merchandise to be damaged, due to mover feeling pressured to do a move with insufficent manpower or less experienced manpower than is required or moving it without the proper equipment.
In these situations, people often ask movers to do things that are unsafe and extremely risky: to “pull off a miracle” or “save the day”. Sometimes they win and everything goes ok. Sometimes they lose and their merchandise, home or movers get damged and hurt. This is the last thing anyone wants, please take the extra time to make sure you describe things to the best of your ability.