Tuesday, October 25, 2011


After you have made a reservation for a storage unit or 2, the next step is to prepare a packing plan.  Following a clear packing plan will help you stay organized, save you time and money and help make the unpacking process easier. In addition to gathering boxes, newspapers and packing tape, several other important steps can help assure the process runs smoothly.

Get rid of what you don’t need
A large part of packing is first deciding what you do not need any more and therefore should not be packed at all.  If you have things that are still packed from the last time you moved, there is a good chance you don’t need them any more.  Packing and moving fewer things will not only save you time, it will also save you money on supplies as well as help you avoid the need for a larger, more expensive storage unit. Here's how to do so:

Reconsider moving large and heavy items
If you are considering moving large and heavy items such as refrigerators, washing machines, freezers, or exercise equipment, consider how difficult they are to move and how much room they take up before deciding to move them.  You may be better off leaving them or selling them.   
Have a yard sale

Yard sales are a great ways to get rid of the things around the house that you no longer have use for.  A yard sale will also help raise money for expenses related to the move, and give you a chance to share your relocation plans with neighbors.

Donate your items

Whatever does not sell at your yard sale can be taken to one of numerous organizations that except donations. Donate clothes, bedding, sporting equipment and even old mattresses and couches. Many of these organizations often provide a pickup service for larger items and can help you find a center close to you. Beware that many of these non-profit organizations have strict standards for the items they except. Donating is not an approach to getting rid of junk.

Toss them
If you still have a few unneeded items laying around, do not be afraid to throw them away. Be conscience of the size of the items you are dispensing of, and utilize city dumps and hauling companies when necessary.

Items that should not be stored
Keep in mind that dangerous and perishable items are prohibited from portable storage units.  Find an alternative for your propane tanks, gas cans, lighter fluids, firearms and so on.  Also remember that animals, food and plants should not be packed.  In addition to these items, it’s a good idea to keep important documents out of the storage container.  Keep items like passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, vehicle and home titles, tax documents and other personal items out of your portable storage unit.   

Keep items together
Now that you know what will stay, you should keep like items together when packing. This will help speed up the unpacking process  - not to mention eliminate confusion.  

Go from room-to-room
Pack each room separately, marking all boxes accordingly. Be sure items heading to the same room are boxed together, and stay together. Do not mix bathroom towels with the sheets, or silverware with sporting goods. You will save yourself valuable time while unpacking by keeping like items together now. 

Label everything
While you are packing boxes, be sure to label the top and sides of boxes with contents, location (room) and any special instructions such as "fragile" or "open first." This will help assure all boxes find their way into the appropriate room and help identify delicate items.

Make a list
Consider keeping a complete list of the contents on the outside of each box. This will help you save from digging through several “kitchen” marked boxes just to find a water bottle. This process may add a bit more time to the packing process, but it will save you a lot of time when unpacking – especially if unpacking is not done right away.  You may even want to make a comprehensive checklist including all boxed items. This checklist will help identify any belongings that your moving company happens to misplace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

U-Haul U-Box Dimensions

Today’s world of instant information and ultimate convenience has spawned a large selection of portable self storage options.  What once involved numerous visits to a potentially scary and altogether industrial self storage facility has now become as simple as a phone call to a mobile storage provider and a delivery to your driveway.  There is just no question that portable storage containers are the ultimate in efficient storage and moving convenience for the do-it-yourself folks out there.  We can all thank PODS for creating a concept that is revolutionizing the storage and moving industry this way.  It’s clear that PODS was the first and is the largest, but many interesting alternatives have come in their wake and look to improve on the service.  The difficult question is how do they all differ, what sets each service provider apart.  Since there are so many variables to consider in the evaluation of a portable storage provider, the aim of this blog is to discuss them one by one so that you can have the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Looking for PODS container dimensions instead?  Check out this post: PODS Container Size Review

Today our subject is the U-Haul U-Box storage unit.  If you are considering using a U-Box for storage or moving, you may be asking yourself, just what are the actual interior dimensions of a U-Haul U-box.  I don’t blame you.  It’s a really good piece of information to have.  After all, you need to know how many U-Boxes you would need for all your stuff.  Does U-Haul give you the internal dimensions?  Well let’s look.  Here is a graphic from their website describing the U-Box: 
U-Haul U-Box advertisement

 As you can see U-Haul claims that their boxes are: 8’ X 5’ X 7’6” (LXWXH) with a capacity of 300 cubic feet and 2,000 lbs.  They also claim that a U-Box fits about a room and a half of household items and that if you got it into your house, you can get it into a U-Box.  That’s all pretty interesting marketing.  But is any of it accurate?  Since I am a stickler for details claimed by such marketing messages, I decided to take a little trip to find a U-Box to measure.  I found a couple in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I found 10 in fact in someone’s driveway and they were nice enough to let me scope out the boxes.

First of all, before I get into my findings, I think its interesting that anyone would use so many U-Boxes when there are larger storage units available.  My intuition tells me that there should be some economy in size.  More on that issue in another post perhaps…

U-Haul U-Box Dimensions:
I found that the overall OUTSIDE dimensions of the U-Box were generally those stated in the advertisement.  This includes about 6 inches of feet below the box.  The INTERIOR dimensions of the U-Box were as follows:

Measured Size:    Interior – 4’8” wide x 7’8” deep x 6’9” tall

This is real world – get inside with a tape measure information.  This is not just an estimate.  Now we can tell that the U-Haul advertisement is for exterior dimensions, which has relatively little value to us unless we are trying to evaluate how many will fit in our driveway, not exactly something I am worried about.  But what about the claimed capacity of 300 cubic feet?  Is that accurate?  Capacity is by definition an interior measurement, right?  Calculating the floor area results in an actual square footage of 35.8 square feet.  Multiplying that area by the interior height results in an actual interior capacity of 242 cubic feet.  This means that the 300 cubic foot claim by U-Haul is an overstatement of 24%.  Can I just say WOW!!!  To be fair, U-Haul does note that all sizes are “approximate.”  The 300 cubic foot capacity statement is clearly figured based on external dimensions and I find this to be “approximately” misleading at best.    

How Much Can You Fit In A U-Box?
We see that U-Haul claims that you can fit about a room and a half of household items in a U-Box.  I find these kinds of estimates all over the place and I find them all to be rather worthless.  The fact of the matter is that all these estimates are relative to how big your rooms are, what type of rooms you have and how full you furnish those rooms.  In addition, it depends on how you pack the U-Box which is ultimately a function of the items that are going into it along with the skill with which you pack them in.  For example, if you have floor lamps in your living room and I don’t, I have a much better probability of fitting my living room into a storage container than you do.  It’s just that simple.  Do you have a 12’ X 16’ dining room stuffed with seating for 12 and floor lamps and a bookshelf and a hutch full of expensive china that will be packed in dish barrels?  I challenge you to fit that in a U-Box.  Dining chairs are among the worst items to pack into storage – they take up an amazing amount of space. 
I kind of like the statement that if you got it into your house you can get it into a U-Box and I believe it to be generally true with very few exceptions.  However, getting a single thing into a U-Box is not generally the point.  While an oversize couch may fit in a U-Box you will be challenged to work around it in very tight quarters.  It is unquestionably easier to pack a variety of large things into a single large container than it is to pack those same items into several small containers.
U-Haul U-Box Construction Materials:
As for the construction materials, these boxes are made of and exoskeleton of 2x4 lumber and plywood walls, floors and ceilings.  Other than a few screws holding some of the structure pieces to each other, the vast majority of the fasteners are staples and adhesive.  Around this plywood box is a fairly heavy duty tarp screwed to the top and kept tight with Velcro attachments.  That’s pretty much it.  Imagine trying to build a cheap plywood box storage container and this is pretty much what you would come up with.

Economical to build? Yes. 

Water tight?  Maybe.

Secure?  Velcro… plywood… adhesive… staples… a tarp… Maybe not so much.

Here are some pictures of the U-Haul U-Box portable storage units in Grand Rapids:

Grand Rapids U-Box Dimensions

Grand Rapids U-Box Construction Materials