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Reading time 6 minutes - Spend just a few minutes reading this article and you'll be in a much better position to decide on how best to book any upcoming move, so relax and inform yourself.
The days of hiring a man and van just for shifting that old sofa you bought on Gumtree are long gone. Although most local man and van companies still provide that kind of service, the more established and well run firms have increasingly expanded into traditional removal company territory and are now just as likely to be moving a 3 or 4 bedroom house or a medium to large office. So it's useful to know how they charge.
Just before we continue though, can we just quickly point out to our more recently arrived international visitors who may still be unfamiliar with the whole Man with Van concept, that almost all London Movers use a combination of the same similar generic names, please refer to our who is the Man with a Van blog post for further clarification on that.
All removal firms have their own preferred method of providing a quote, and needless to say some will do it better than others, but the general idea is to make it as clear as possible exactly what the costs are and what a customer will get for their money, along with any relevant terms and conditions.
Some quotes will be detailed with a breakdown of the rates involved whilst others may just show the total price, it just depends on the job and what is included. The important thing for the customer is to receive a hard copy of the quote in writing, usually provided by email, so you have an exact record of what has been agreed that you can refer to later if required.
Hourly rates are the most common way of quoting and prices are normally set out clearly with different options depending on the number of helpers required.
Quoting by hourly rate is often used for typical man with a van removals around London from flatshares and smaller one or two bed properties. Bigger moves will normally require a more detailed quote and may involve a home visit from a removals estimator in advance, as the cost of removals from large properties usually needs to be calculated on a more individual basis as you would expect.
With hourly rates there is usually a minimum charge of two hours, and then further incremental additions if the two hours is exceeded, as explained in more detail below.
The other way of quoting is by fixed price. A fixed rate tends to be used more for long distance removals either going to or from London where the Mover will already know the time and expense involved from previous similar jobs, and be able to give an all inclusive price.
In the case of a long distance removal, a fixed price is usually much more preferable for the customer because the hourly 'rate clock' won't be ticking if there is an unexpected delay, or the removal van happens to get caught in the 'mother of all traffic jams' along the way.
Removal Costs and Extras
As a customer you also want to know what extra costs might be added on if applicable, and what the removal company policy is (as set out in their terms) if an unexpected issue pops up like receiving a dreaded parking ticket, which believe it or not happens much less often than you might think. Still, it's best to be sure.
Although 'extras' are sometimes necessary, the problem with too long a list of them is it can lead to complicated quotes involving lots of potential scenarios where the likelihood of a misunderstanding and subsequent disagreement gets significantly increased.
What if the number of floors are counted as an 'extra' yet it all fits easily in a lift? What if there's an 'extra' charge for each mile covered but the driver accidentally or otherwise takes a longer route than necessary?
What if they are just making prices up as they go along and someone forgot to inform the driver of the 'new deal'? In most cases it makes sense to go with the clearest most transparent quote and avoid the uncertainty.
So what is the average cost?
Generally speaking average man and van prices in London with a
reputable firm are around £40 to £60 per hour (with a two hour minimum
charge) which would normally include a working driver helping to load
and unload. The more helpers, the higher the rate.
So just to break that down a bit, assuming you use an established reliable company, a small flatshare type of move in London that only requires a working driver would usually cost around £40 per hour (give or take a few pounds). If you would prefer or require an extra helper, that would normally put the overall hourly rate up to around £50 to £60 per hour (that's for the whole job, not per helper) and then so on for any additional helpers.
The actual type of van used doesn't normally affect the price, but check our size guide to get an idea what size of removals van you will most likely need.
*Quick note* - Generally when searching for a Mover, try to avoid just looking for whoever appears to be offering the cheapest 'attention grabbing' rate. Booking with the lowest price Movers you can find often leads to problems with reliability and levels of service. Read more about the potential pitfalls of hiring a cheap man and a van and why the difference in final costs is often very minimal once a variety of extra stealth charges have been added on.
Costs are sometimes dependent on availability and other factors so always request a quote to be sure.
As explained here and in the article referenced above, quotes offering an unusually low hourly rate designed to 'draw you in' are often subject to a confusing mix of potential extra charges on top which can lead to unwelcome disputes on your moving day, so it's usually advisable to opt for the clearest and most inclusive offer even if the hourly rate is a bit higher.
When deciding on which Mover to hire, it's really a case of choosing a removals company that looks professional, trustworthy and is able to meet your specific requirements, rather than just searching for the cheapest quote you can find to hire a man with van simply on price and nothing else.
And lastly, if you are thinking about maybe hiring a van and doing the move yourself, please do have a read of the last bit below before you put yourself through that.
The Two Hour Minimum Charge Explained
As you may have noticed, most professional man and van Movers have a two hour minimum charge, at least the reliable ones that stay in business anyway.
Think of it this way, imagine you are moving from Clapham to Highgate. Your Mover (who will cover the whole of the
London area like most London Movers do or they won't last long) has to first drive through London traffic to get to you, at which point the clock starts. They then move you to Highgate, and say after unloading has finished the move has taken a total of an hour and three quarters to complete.
They then have to either drive back to base wherever that is (not that it matters much as long as it's in London) or if they are lucky enough to have another job nicely timed to go on to (which again could be anywhere in London) the total time invested in your move by your Mover will almost always be much longer than two hours, even though that is all they have charged assuming it was completed within that time.
The two hour minimum charge is a necessity for most Movers to make it worthwhile and keep them in business. If the 2 hours is exceeded the removal company will usually charge by half hour increments. Yes it is slightly 'swings and roundabouts' but it evens out and is the fairest way to maintain a reliable and professional service.
But I Want the Cheapest Man and Van in London!
We've all heard of the mythical cheap man and van that moved a friend of a friend's best mate for £10, but 'no one can get hold of him at the moment'. That's usually because he lasted a few weeks, couldn't maintain a reliable service, and decided to find an easier way to make a living (or go back to the day job he usually uses his van for).
Yes there are lots of man and van Movers in London doing a great job for next to nothing, but you get the picture. Trying to run a professional removals business on too tight a shoestring sooner or later leads to 'burn out' as accurately described in this Guardian article.
So as explained above, the average cost to hire a single working driver
with a well run reputable man and van firm in London
that will definitely turn up as arranged normally starts at around £40 per hour, and then depending on the size and type of removal services
required increases further according to the number of helpers needed.
Can't I just hire a van and do it myself?
Well you could, assuming you have a driving licence and don't require much help there's nothing stopping you from hiring a van and doing all the work by yourself.
That may seem like a great alternative at first, until you consider you will need to pick the van up and return it when you have finished. Complete all the lengthy paperwork, pay a large deposit in case of accidental damage which will be lost if there's even a scratch, and then drive off in unfamiliar London traffic and hope for the best!
It will also most likely take you much much longer to carry out your move alone, or even with the help of friends if they turn up, compared to being assisted by an experienced Mover or two. And to top all that off, depending on the size of the move, van hire alone will often end up costing more than hiring a Mover anyway so there's no real advantage.
Removals is hard physical work and doing it responsibly with the correct insurance, well maintained vehicles, reliable and motivated staff requires continual reinvestment.
When all of the above is considered we believe average man and van prices in London are generally very good value, and a much more affordable option than some of the traditional large removal companies. You just need to make sure you go with a professional one.
We wish you all the best with your move.
Moving in London soon? Visit our homepage to request a quote and book your move.