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How long does a removals service take?

Make your day roll smoother with an estimated time schedule.

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How long does a moving service take?

This is a question that we hear a lot, and unfortunately there is no definite answer to give! There are so many variables to take into consideration per move that no one move is ever the same.

However, we have been in this game for nearly 2 decades, so what we can do is give you a very good, educated estimation based on all our years of experience, and give you a rough guide to how long your moving service is expected to last.

Here are some of the conditions and how they will affect the time:


One of the most important aspects that will affect the time is the access to the properties. The most ideal move is where our vans can be parked on a drive, right outside the front door, meaning there is very little walking to do when carrying your items out of your house and into the van. When this is the case, we usually find the average loading time for one of our Luton vans is around 2 hours for a removal crew of 3.

If there isn’t a drive to park on, then a lot of moves are taken care of via on street parking. It’s vitally important to reserve parking spaces on the road outside of your house when this is the situation, otherwise our vans will end up being parked further down the street in the nearest available spaces, adding time taken to carry your items to the van.

The location of your property to the road is also a big factor. If for instance, you live in a house that can only be accessed by a footpath, there will be a walk from the road across the pavement to reach your house and depending on whether your house is at the beginning of the footpath, in the middle or right at the end will be a big factor on the loading time.

If you are moving out of a flat or apartment, these take much longer than your normal house move. There’s usually lots of corridors to negotiate with furniture, often through several fire doors, and if a lift is available, this will need to be loaded and then emptied at ground floor, before taking it to the van which is often parked far away in a car park.

Some apartments don’t have lifts, so lots of stairs will need to be negotiated before going outside to the van, and sometimes furniture will need to come down the stairs anyway if it is too big to fit in the lift.

A good way of getting an estimation of time for apartment moves (and this can also be applied to any move), is to start off at your door and imagine you are carrying a box.

Start your timer and walk down the stairs, out of the door and over to where the van will be parked. Hang around for a short while to add a bit of time on for putting the item into the van and stacking it securely, and then walk back to your door. Stop your timer and see how long this has taken. Then multiply this by the number of items you are moving and there you have your estimated loading time! (Which will be divided by the number of staff members participating in your move).

If your apartment has a lift, then you would time it different and imagine doing several trips back and forth to the lift until there are enough items to fill it, then empty the lift at the bottom and carry them all to the van.

Protecting furniture

Before loading begins, there will also be some time taken to wrap and protect furniture so that it’s safe throughout your move (you will see how we take care of furniture in our other document, ‘What to expect for the service’.) This process doesn’t take too long, around a minute or 2 for 1 person to wrap smaller items and a few minutes for a couple of staff members to wrap the larger items such as settees and wardrobes.

More time is needed to wrap specialist items such as American Fridge / Freezers, where the doors will be taken off and individually wrapped, the glass shelves removed and protected followed by the main body of the fridge being wrapped.

Piano’s also take a bit of time too, where certain pieces are removed and protected before the piano itself, and due to its shear size and weight, this takes much longer to get to the van than your average piece of furniture!


Ravenhill Removal’s can provide a full packing service for customers, making sure each box is packed properly, with delicate items such as ornaments and crockery each individually wrapped and protected before being boxed.

However, a lot of customers like to do the packing themselves, and this can affect the loading and unloading times depending on how well the boxes have been packed. If all the boxes are packed as they should (heavy items in small boxes, lighter items in larger boxes etc.) and every item has been boxed, then loading will commence swiftly and efficiently.

We do find though that a lot of customers who opt to pack themselves, don’t actually pack everything! Lots of individual items are still left in the house such as table lamps, sky boxes and other electronics, kitchen items such as toasters, air fryers and so on, meaning that the van can’t be stacked efficiently, and these items are then being carried individually to the van and taking up more time.

If everything was packed up properly then it would simply be a case of a couple of trips to the van carrying stackable boxes, rather than several trips back and forth with individual items, followed by finding a way of stacking them in the van and protecting them so they don’t get damaged, which does add a considerable amount of time to the loading when everything isn’t boxed up and ready to go.

Packing is also a big factor with the unloading times too. Each box needs to be labelled with a minimum of what room it needs to go in, but ideally with extra information about the contents of the box. Each staff member can then take a box from the van and go straight to the room it needs to be moved to, rather than what happens a lot of the time when customers haven’t labelled the boxes they have packed, and insist on opening each box as our team enter the property to inspect the contents and decide what room it needs to go in. This can more than double the time it takes to unload a van.

Dismantling and re-assembly

For items that need dismantling and rebuilding, some customers have this taken care of ready for our team to load onto the vans, while other customers would prefer our team take care of this part.

Beds with slats can usually be dismantled in around 15 minutes, single or double wardrobes around the same time, and then you can get more complicated pieces of furniture like quadruple wardrobes with sliding mirror doors which will take up quite a lot of time to dismantle and then rebuild.

Disconnecting and plumbing in of washing machines and dishwashers is generally a straightforward task which can be taken care of in about 5 minutes. There are some occasions where stop taps won’t turn off so need to be capped off etc. that will add to the time, but we can deal with these where needed.

Children and pets

Where at all possible, young children and pets need a babysitter on moving day, ideally in a different house, but if this isn’t possible, then at least one room in the house out of the way of the removalists.

It is very dangerous when our team are carrying heavy furniture, and small children or animals are running under their feet. This will cause accidents and very possibly injury to either our staff or the excitable parties, with furniture potentially getting damaged along the way, so our guys must stop what they are doing and wait for the customer to bring them under control before they can carry on with their job, which affects the time greatly.

Exchange of contracts

Even if all the above has gone in your favour, you live in a house with a drive, all items are packed in boxes perfectly and the kids are at their grandparents, you may then get smacked in the face by the solicitors telling you there is a problem somewhere in the chain causing a delay with the exchange of contracts! This could just be a slight hiccup and the keys are available 20 minutes later than expected, or it could be something more time consuming and it’s not uncommon for delays of 3, 4 and even 5 hours until you get the green light, and the vans can then be unloaded at your new place.

Unfortunately, this is something that you will never know until it happens on the day. It can’t be predicted, so it’s just a case of fingers crossed and hope it all goes through smoothly without any fuss. The longer the chain the longer the delay could be.


Taking the above into consideration, I hope this helps clear up the matter when people ask us how long it will take, and we simply can not give a definite answer. We can give an estimate based on past experiences and average house moves, but there can usually be that unforeseen something that causes the time to drag on, whether it’s taking doors off to get furniture out of a house, increasing your step-counter with the shear distance involved from the property to the van, or sat around twiddling your thumbs because the solicitors have told you to hang on a while until they sort out a document.

Overall, you have the 2-hour average loading time for 1 van and 3 men with good access. For larger moves you may have more vans to load, or several trips in 1 van if you don’t need to be out of your house for a certain time so can-do extra runs for moves which are close.

Unloading normally takes half the time of loading for properties with good access. Again, taking the above into consideration with how well-prepared boxes are and so on.

For a small sized move, needing just 1 trip in the van locally, you are normally looking at around half a day’s work for a full van load with a 3-man team.

For apartment moves, this could be a full day if you are moving into another apartment.

Larger moves requiring a couple of vans for the household items and another van for outside furniture, pot plants and garage items could be looking at around 8 to 12 hours depending on the size of the team involved. If 5 or 6 staff members are on a move, the work will conclude at a more reasonable hour. If a smaller team are carrying out the work, then it can often last long into the late evenings.

When we get a visual inventory list from our customers (either pictures or a video), we can see exactly what is to be moved, and can provide you with an estimated move time, again, stressing the word estimated, given the nature of the job.

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