With more than 7500 homes in Christchurch red- zoned, and thousands others having to move out of their homes temporarily while they are repaired or rebuilt, where are homeowners putting their knick-knacks and furniture? TAMLYN STEWART reports.
Storage King South Island territory manager Geoff Adams says the company has seen massive demand for space at its 750 unit Ferrymead and 500 unit Blenheim Rd facilities since the earthquakes began.
Now many people are retrieving their household items as they move back into their homes for Christmas after repairs have been completed and new repairs are put on hold over the holiday period.
Adams expects demand to be "mad again" by mid-January when tradespeople started up work again.
Storage King offers units for a minimum of one month. Most people were opting for six week to 12 week periods. Homeowners were often extending the rental of their storage unit for a couple of weeks as repairs to their homes took a bit longer than anticipated.
His advice for homeowners who know they will be out of their houses for a while is eat everything out of the freezer in the weeks leading up to your move. Your fridge and freezer will need to be defrosted, clean and dry before you store it, as the units are not powered.
Things you think you may need like passports and jewellery should be kept with you or packed near the front of the unit and all boxes should be clearly labelled.
"You can guarantee the thing you want is always at the back."
The cost of storage can range from $80 to $500 a month, depending on the size of the unit you rent.
On average, a three to four bedroom home would need about 25 to 35 cubic metres of storage space, Adams says.
If people are unsure, they can seek an accurate assessment from the storage company.
"It works really well because a lot of people have no idea - they phone up and say I need a garage but in most cases they don't need a garage. They can get into something a lot smaller than that and save some money."
Demand for space has been "constant" for the last 18 months since the earthquakes and Adams advises homeowners to plan ahead.
"The sooner people can get their head around what their storage requirements would be and make a booking, because I can see 2013 is going to be very busy and if people don't get in three or four weeks ahead of time. . .
"The earlier they get onto the storage the better.
"From what we can see already it's going to be madness.
If storage costs are covered by a policyholder's insurer, the company could bill the insurance company directly if the customer prefers that, Adams says.
The firm has been doing that for 90 per cent of its earthquake customers.
Policyholders should check the details of their policies and the extent of their cover for transport and storage costs.
Most people are signing up for short-term use of units, for two or three months but some clients are red-zoned property owners who have now been using storage facilities for up to 18 months.
Owner of Christchurch storage company Affordable Storage Tony McLaughlin says there has been huge demand for the company's Bromley and Marshlands storage units since the September earthquake.
It is the busiest the company has ever been.
"Since the earthquakes it has just been nuts."
"It went nuts straight away after the September earthquake."
People panicked "a wee bit" - the company had a lot of people ringing up to check if their belongings in storage were OK, while others were ringing up to book space.
Up until two or three months ago the company's 800 units had been booked solid.
Now things have eased slightly but 95 per cent of Affordable Storage's units are still full.
Most customers are using storage facilities while their homes are being repaired but others are red-zoned homeowners who are looking to buy a new house or build a new one and need to store their things while staying with family.
There was strong demand for bigger units which accommodate a three bedroom house and McLaughlin thinks this level of demand is likely to continue for the next five years.
The more efficiently you pack up your prized possessions the more space, and money, you can save.
Affordable Storage units range from 7 metres x 3m for a four or five bedroom house to 1.5m x 1.5m. A three-bedroom house would probably require a 6m x 3m unit.
Units vary in cost from $18 to $58 a week depending on size.
A lot of people thought they needed more space than they actually did, McLoughlin said.
The firm recommends clients get an assessment done by their mover or use the storage calculator on its website.
"It makes a smoother and easier move if you're prepared."
McLoughlin suggests people book about two weeks in advance.
Naturally clients are not allowed to store stolen, illegal or hazardous items which include LPG gas bottles and food.
TOP TIPS FOR STORING YOUR STUFF
Check if your insurance policy covers the cost of moving and storing your household items
People often think they need more space than they actually do.
Ask the storage company for an assessment of how much space you'll really need.
Have everything packed up ahead of time
Consider using a professional removals company for most efficient packing and use of space
Empty your fridge/freezer ahead of time
Don't store important things you may need urgently, like passports
Label boxes clearly and in detail
Wrap and pack things carefully and efficiently to save space
- © Fairfax NZ News
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