Home Front logoQ. I am moving house soon and given the size of the home I need to pack up I am considering using a removal company to help me make the move. How do I know if a firm is reputable or not, I don’t have any recommendations so I am really worried in case it all goes wrong particularly given I have some expensive furniture.

A. For more than a century the British Association of Removers (BAR) has been promoting professional excellence in the Removals Industry. Choosing a BAR Member will ensure your move goes smoothly with added peace of mind that comes from using a reputable, professional and safe remover, and in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ve got someone to turn to. Choosing a removal firm that has committed to the BAR membership is a good starting point because it shows they’re willing to be held up to a minimum standard. BAR members have minimum standards of conduct for membership which will be in your interests such as legal, licensed vehicles, protection for your deposit and arbitration or free conciliation and in the unlikely event something goes wrong. Firms that don’t invest in holding themselves to high standards probably also lack the funds to invest in their vehicles. Poorly maintained, unlicensed or unsuitable vans are not only a hazard on the road but may very well be in breach of their insurance conditions (assuming they actually are insured) – meaning if there’s an accident or your goods are damaged in loading or transit, you may not be covered. Small firms or ‘man & van’ very often don’t directly employ their staff and simply hire in casual labour when they need. If the crew aren’t professionals then your possessions may not be treated with respect and packed well for the journey. In a perfect world, a verbal agreement and shake of hands would be nice, but when it comes to your worldly possessions and valuable items, not having a contract leaves you open and unprotected. At a minimum, you should get signed agreement which sets out the service that will be provided in clear English with clear contact details of who you’re dealing with. Using a removal firm that is not a member of The British Association of Removers, or any other trade organisation with equivalent measures in place, means you may have no route of redress or complaint other than the civil courts or local trading standards offices if things do go wrong. Given you have some expensive items being handled do find out what level and type of insurance cover is offered, so that you ensure you are covered in the event of a mishap occurring.