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The trick is getting all of it there in one piece

Whether a person is moving across the country or just across town, belongings need to be packed properly to ensure safe arrival at the new home. Building Magazine offers the following advice on preserving valuable items _ and the mover's sanity:

Schedule a "packing day" for the mover, usually one to or two days before the moving arrives. Be there when the goods are packed away _ and picked up.

Check the inventory of household goods before they are packed. Have valuable items listed separately on the inventory. Discuss the inventory with the mover; an agreement should be made before it is signed.

The inventory record is one of the most important shipping documents. Refer to it at the destination and sign it after the goods are received and inspected.

When planning to ship a refrigerator or freezer, remove all the food, defrost, and thoroughly dry the appliance to prevent mildew and other damage.

When electing to self-pack to save money, ask the moving company for packing materials . Keep in mind that professional movers usually will not accept liability for breakage of items that homeowners pack.

Pack the contents of each room in separate boxes and label the outside of each box with the room they should be placed in at the new house. Use only unprinted newspaper for wrapping to avoid soiling possessions.

Begin early. Allow four weeks to pack.

Start with things that are used less frequently, like out-of-season clothes, special-occasion place settings, knicknacks or old records.

If the move will take more than a day, pack for the moving days early, so as not to end up searching through packed boxes for things that are needed.

Find free corrugated cartons at grocery stores. Buy boxes, or rent furniture pads and furniture and mattress covers from a truck-rental dealer.

Pack lightly. Friends who are helping will be grateful if each box weighs less than 30 pounds. This means a lot of small boxes for such weighty items as books.

Wrap fragile items in tissue paper. Clearly mark "fragile" and indicate which side should face up.

Label each box with a list of contents.

Pack small appliances in their original boxes if available. Cushion with crumpled newspaper.