If we had a dollar for every time someone asked “Wait, you guys do all this DIY but you don’t own a truck?” – let’s just say we’d be able to afford a big ol’ truck. But we love being a single-car household and for years owned a modestly sized Nissan Altima (we now have a small SUV, a Toyota Highlander). So over the years, we’ve definitely had to get creative when it comes to getting large items home – furniture, lumber, tools, etc. So if you find yourself unable to transport something with the vehicle you drive, here are a few ways that we’ve found a solution.
Hauling Tip #1: Ask At The Store
Did you know you can rent a pick-up truck directly from Home Depot and Lowe’s? It’s usually just $19 for the first $75, so it can be a super convenient, affordable, and low-stress option. We’ve rented from both stores SEVERAL TIMES to transport everything from large rented tools, long PVC piping, drywall sheets, hardwood flooring, and oversized bathroom reno materials (and some breakfast bagels while we were at it).
Typically they are meant for hauling items bought at that particular store, but we once had someone rent one to pick up a Craigslist item from our house. They were able to swing by, grab the mattress, and swiftly get the truck back to Home Depot with plenty of time to spare.
Hauling Tip #2: Find A “Man With A Van”
Check your neighborhood message boards – like Facebook, Nextdoor, or Craigslist – to see if there’s a neighbor or other “helper for hire” who will help pick-up items for a small fee. Sites like TaskRabbit even offer furniture pick-up or moving. The added bonus is that you likely get some help lifting or moving large or heavy objects too. Just use your best judgment when hiring a stranger and be prepared to be patient and flexible based on their availability. And be creative too – someone with a trailer could be a great option for hauling junk or piles of reno trash to dump, rather than renting a dumpster.
Hauling Tip: #3: Give It Away
If you need help getting rid of a large item, find a charitable donation center like the Habitat For Humanity ReStore that does free pick-up. This is great because it doesn’t cost a cent, they come to you, and it’s even a tax write-off! We recently donated our old sink and faucet from our big bathroom makeover this way. We just called to arrange a pick-up and they arrived right on time to grab everything. And of course, you can always list things as “free with pick up” on Facebook Marketplace to clear out your clutter in a snap (no driving necessary).
Hauling Tip #4: Phone A Friend
Ask a friend to borrow their bigger car/SUV/truck/etc. John’s sister Emily happens to have a large Explorer and we definitely bribe her with food or gas to switch cars for a few hours (or even a full day) so we can make an Ikea run or take a bunch of items to the local recycling center when it’s garage clean out time. And every once in a while we take on a personal challenge without the help of Em’s larger car (like when we were determined to get two bifold doors into our tiny ten year old Maxima last year (mission accomplished!).
Hauling Tip #5: Rent A Moving Truck
U-Hauls aren’t just for moving to a new house, and unlike the Home Depot or Lowe’s trucks, you may find more flexibility and options through a traditional moving company (like small trailers to large trucks with loading ramps). We rented one once to move a single, vintage stove simply because we needed the ramp. It was a bit pricier and more complicated to rent, but I was able to get exactly what I needed for that particular task. So it never hurts to explore this option!
So that’s how we take home the occasional supersized item, haul a slew of things off to the recycling center from time to time, or even get a local thrift store to do the hard work for us after we tackle some pretty major renos – all without owning a big SUV or a truck. Do you guys have other haul it tips to share? Any especially creative ways that you’ve gotten something huge back to your house (in a not so huge vehicle)? Tell us all about it.
Tiffany T. says
Now I could be mistaken but I think that the UHaul charges like 50 cents per mile after a certain mileage right? Which is still a deal..
Good question! It totally depends on what you rent and how far you’ll be going (we know lots of people who haven’t topped the mileage limit so $19 was their total rental fee). And some UHaul rentals can be considered “local” if you’re staying within a certain zip code or area (and won’t charge for mileage at all) so it’s best to check with your local rental place to see what deals they’re currently offering.
That makes a lot of sense! I’m happy driving my tiny Yaris, but my husband supports his large vehicle habit with two trucks and a huge trailer. He claims it saves money when we have to move, but so far we’ve only moved once and our choice of rental housing is dictated not by cost, but by which has the most parking area. :/
Tiffany T. says
Good to know!
Ashley @ Mutschler Family, Dallas Edition says
What a great idea! I didn’t know that about Home Depot! I’ll have to try that for our next project.
I used tip #2 not so long ago, when I finally found an Ikea Expedit 5×5, the color I wanted, for just 100$ on CL. Victory! Having a tiny car and no relatives near by, I called a random guy with a van found again on CL. He meet me at the seller’s place on a 30 min notice (!) and within an hour the bookcase was at my place. The best part is that I didn’t move a finger at both places (my place and the seller’s was on a second floor). 40$ oh so well spend! And it still cost me way less than a brand new one at Ikea, which I would still have to get to my place.
eric @ my first Garage says
If you could see the amount of Ikea stuff I cram into a tiny Civic!
Great post! I always find it amusing when people purchase a car based on what they’ll be doing with it 10% of the time.
I have a tiny Saturn, so I joined U Car Share, details here: https://www.ucarshare.com/secure/Home.aspx It may or may not be in your city, but it’s worth a look. There is a fee of $25 to join, but then it’s only $5 an hour and they even cap the amount after a certain time. They have anything from a Prius to an F-150! Definitely cheaper than owning and insuring another vehicle!
We’ve had Zipcar for a few years, and while we don’t use it regularly (yay public transit and walking), we’ve been known to grab a Honda Element or Toyota Tacoma for an Ikea trip or a pre-moving truck move. While it’s only available in some urban areas, it’s been a great way to avoid owning a car for 5 years while living in big cities.
Kate @ Domesticating Kate says
Great tips!! I might have to call the nearest ReStore to see if they can pick up so many things we have stored in our garage from our recent kitchen and guest bathroom remodels. I had NO idea they could do pick-ups. As long as we’re not too far away for their pick-up service, you may have just saved us a huge headache (and unfortunately for the hubs, this means we can clean out the garage soon after all). ;)
Laura W says
I have a Honda Fit. It’s a pretty tiny car, the gas mileage is GREAT, and the seats fold all the way down to create a large cargo area in the back. My personal best large-item transportation victory was buying and transporting an 8-foot ladder in the Fit. Needless to say, it fit!
Many cities have cars you can rent by the hour (Zipcar in DC) and they have trucks or SUVs available, usually within a few blocks of our house. Zipcar rates are around $8/hour when you have a subscription for the year ($50). It is a great way to haul big stuff without buying the big car!
For those that live in or near cities where they are available Zip Car is always a great option. They have SUVs and trucks. An especially great option when (like me) you don’t own a car at all.
My tip is to own a hatchback with seats that fold down! We have tiny cars (VW Golf and Honda Fit) and we have hauled SO many large items. Just last week I fit a 3X5′ foot bookcase in my car (the guy I bought it from said he had never seen anything like it!), and a few days before that I hauled a lot of compost in tubs, and before that 4 kitchen chairs. I also volunteer for my food co-op, and I think I maxed out the VW at 9 full-size ice chests.
Jessica @ How Sweet says
Had no idea you could rent the truck! That is so helpful and will definitely benefit us this summer.
I once bought a french door (32 x 80) from Home Depot and was able to take it home in my 99 Honda Civic!! I lowered the back seats and pushed the front seats as far up as possible and was still able to close the truck. What was so funny was while I was putting the door in the car a small group of men stopped and watched in amazement! “I gotta see this!”, “Cant’t be done!, then “Damn, can’t believe it!, “Wow!” Yep…still have that car!
This post is so funny! My husband likes to fix things up, including cars, so he has two vehicles that are less than the value of mine. He has a 1995 Saturn SC2, and a 1994 Mazda Miata. I have a 2003 Mazda Protege 5, so it is the largest vehicle of the bunch. We’ve nicknamed it “the truck” because of all the stuff we can creatively smoosh into it. We’ve regularly fit 8 foot boards in from Lowe’s for my husband’s carpentry projects. Thankfully, he’s an engineer, so I mostly get to observe the maneuvering process!
My ex left a huge wooden cart in my garage (took up half the garage). I ended up renting a reciprocal saw for $40 (Lowes referred me to this rental place), I demo-ed it and called for special pick up (pick up by the city was free). Sure beat the $120 it would have cost me to have someone else haul it. You give great ideas. This is an excellent post for spring cleaning.
Thank you for telling us about the truck rental! My hubby and I have a tiny sedan that we love but had a horrible time fitting a box for an ikea wardrobe in it! (believe it or not it worked… all we had to do was put it in through the drivers side, lay the passenger seat flat, and had my hubby sit behind me the entire way back-thankfully ikea gives package measurements on their site). Normally we go on the ‘ask a friend’ approach but have been looking into buying a truck since we’re starting to house hunt. :)
Amanda V says
Sherry this post is great! We have a Mini Cooper and a Mustang…not much room for groceries if ya ask me! Sometimes we have been very innovative at squeezing oversized items into the back seat and/or trunk.
Making trip to Lancaster to the Pottery Barn outlet is my next conundrum to this hauling issue. Maybe renting the UHAUL would be my best bet!
We have had to get creative many times. We own a Toyota Matrix and have had the problem of buying WAAY too much at home depot, getting to the car and realizing it may not fit. My favourite time was when we bought insulation for the house.. we managed to fit 4 bags in the car but had paint etc left so I had to sit cross legged in the front seat with a big box and 3 paint cans on my lap with my head half out the window. Luckily we were driving 3 blocks to get home but it was hilarious!!!
Another time we bought some wood, got it to the car to realized it was MUCH too long… luckily we ran into a contractor friend in the parking lot who had his big van and dropped it off at our house! Lucky us!
These are really good tips! I still want a truck bad. It hurts to not be able to swing by a thrift shop and find a perfect dresser or stop at Home Depot and pick up 10 ft moldings without calling my dad to use his F150. Someday we will get one! Gas expense wouldn’t matter, I’m lucky enough to work 2 miles from home.
Is ‘man with a van’ a business on Craigslist?
It’s not a chain or a company or anything, just a series of guys with vans or trucks who make money hauling things for people and helping them move. Just search “man with a van” and see what comes up in your area. And of course take precautions to be sure they’re who they say they are (ask for a reference to call, or meet them in a public place with a few other people around) so there’s no funny business. Hope it helps!
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite says
My hub and I lease a Pontiac G6 (a similar sedan to the Altima). When we first moved into our Jersey City apartment, we were amazed at what we could fit in there! By opening up the trunk and folding down the back seats, we were able to fit giant boxes of parts for dressers, bookcases, you name it! Never underestimate the power of the sedan! As always, thanks for sharing these great tips!
we have a chrysler minivan–it’s on the smaller side, so sometimes we can’t both haul DIY stuff *and* people. This means that occasionally we’ve had to leave one of us & the kids at the Home Depot/Lowes whilst the other drives home our lumber/closet doors/drywall/etc. There could be worse places to be stuck, though! :)
i’d love to get rid of the minivan (we almost live a one-car lifestyle now, after moving closer to work & transit), so maybe the rent-a-truck would be a reasonable alternative for us when we finally do!
My husband and I are about to have our 4th child and own a Nissan Micra… needless to say I know all about being creative when it comes to having to haul something someplace, even if it’s just us! Your tips are exactly what I would tell anyone, with a few twists to fit the country we live in. I really like that you guys try to keep your car ownership to a minimum, way to go! Oh and, good luck in that last pregnancy stretch… I know how you feel! xoxo
We rented a machine at Lowe’s to blow insulation into our attic. It’s a big metal box, maybe 4 by 4 with a long hose attachment and we got it in our Mazda protege (we moved the front passenger seat all the way back and squeezed it in there). We also tied a hard plastic kiddie pool to the top of it and brought it home (different trip!), looking very cool! Now that we have 4 kids, we have a minivan and my husband transported 20 railroad ties in it (in 3 trips– still pretty heavy each time) and he’s transported multiple craigslist items, sometimes with the drivers seat as far forward as it will go (he’s 6’2″). Lots of fun– who needs a truck?
Meredith K A says
Haul It Tip #6: Have a dad who owns a small business with a big van and an even bigger box truck, and a husband who works there and can therefore borrow them.
I guess that’s not going to work for everyone…in fact, my dad just retired and sold the business to someone else, so from now on our main option for hauling stuff is going to be to borrow my mom’s minivan…which she’s thinking of downsizing to a more feul-efficient car, but luckily we have a Toyota Matrix (it’s a 4-door hatchback with seats that fold flat), so that does us for the regular everyday stuff.
“Man with a Van” on Craigslist is getting tucked away for future use, thanks for that great tip!
What great options! My mother-in-law has gotten amazing amounts of stuff in her 96 Saturn.
We have nothing but big trucks (98 Grand Cherokee, 05 Tahoe, 01 Dodge Ram 1500), but sometimes that isn’t even enough. We found an entire pallet of half-log siding at Restore for $50 (!:)!:)! the cost of one 7ft log new at Menards! YAY!) but….how to get them home, as some of the boards were 20 ft long?
We loaded up the shorter segments in the Dodge, then hubby had a brilliant idea. We took the shorter segments home and came back with . . . . our 18-foot Crestliner fishing boat! It contained all the boards, and we didn’t have to worry about them sliding off the back of anything.
We did get a few strange looks as we were loading the boat with the boards, though. LOL
LOVE the blog – we get so many great ideas and resources from you!
My husband has an old beat up trailer that hooks on to a hitch on the back of the car. It sure has seen tons of miles and load and loads of stuff. It sure doesn’t look great, but we are able to haul alot of things to/from shops or directly to the dump.
My own car has been loaded to the roof with Ikea finds. Sometimes it’s funny to see peoples expressions…like, you are going to find this in there!! hahahah
I think IKEA also has a delivery service.
By the way, how did you come about the buy the Altima?
Did it have some things that you were looking for that others did not? Would you compare the Altima to the Maxima..I’m not that car saavy, sorry.
Will you be doing a post on that? No more Burger plate?
Great tips and DIYing, as usual!
We’ve both been huge Nissan fans our entire life (John’s dad has one that has over 300,000 miles on it, and our old Maxima had nearly 200,000 when we sold it and got our new Altima) so it was a no brainer for us to stick with that brand. And when the 2009 Nissan Altima won “car of the year” and earned a five star safety rating (and was thousands cheaper than a Maxima with just about the same storage offerings and lower gas mileage) it was an easy choice for us. Hope it helps!
Jacquelin Seybert says
I never knew renting from the Home Depot was so cheap! Good to know. I have a Honda Element and the seats fold up so its super helpful when we pick up larger items… or as my husband calls it “my IKEA damage.” :)
I think people greatly underestimate the storage capacity of their sedan. I have a coupe and I have gotten tables, shelves and even 6 foot tall pieces of lumber transported in my car. Sure, the fit can sometimes be awkward (like the tall 2×4 sticking out of my sunroof) but it gets the job done! Fit it through the trunk, onto the folded back seat and rest it on the passenger side. A little finagling (that’s a highly technical term) and it can be done!
The Home Depot trucks have ran up alot of mileage from our home! We love having that option! The “creative” ways my Husband has brought stuff home before (we too have a Nissan Altima) is to strategically strap it to the roof of his car and hold on! (it scares the bejesus out of me, but he hasn’t failed yet- I must say this has been pretty short trips). He also has been know to cram stuff into the back of his car and sadly ripped the fabric on his seat/ceiling much to my dismay- at least he hasn’t done it to my Honda Accord!
Please be careful with the “man with a van” option. There are laws and restrictions for dumping your demo waste, and many times, people are dumping waste illegally. Be careful, and like Sherry said, check references.
you’d be suprised (or maybe not) at what we’ve gotten into our prius!!!! there have been times the rear hatch has had to be left open (but secured down with bungie cords) to allow doors or 16′ long crown moulding, etc to hang out the rear a bit….. but it’s all been doable so far…. now when we get our new living room furniture…. ya…. that will involve a truck (haven’t figured out how to get a safa in the prius yet!)
our first trip with it, when we first got it, unrelated to DIY but involved getting two road bikes and all the necessary gear for a 100 mile bike ride….. others at the ride were amazed that we’d gotten the bikes (and extra gear) all stuffed in there!)
For a long time (5 years) my husband and I were a one car family, and the one car happened to be a Mini. We brought home our huge Webber gas grill, a 400lb table saw, bookshelves, 2×4’s, a planer, you name it, we’ve done it. But the Home Depot truck is awesome when it comes to needing a whole whack of stuff. We used to organize with our neighbours in the spring to get a bunch of stuff from there all at once, and then split the tiny cost of the rental and gas.
This isn’t quite a ‘tip’ since it involves buying a car, but I think it’s worth knowing.
When my hubby had to replace his pick-up last spring we decided on a used Dodge Calibur. The backseat is more family friendly than a small truck, and it’s small with a 4-cylinder engine so it gets great gas mileage. But the back seat folds completely flat so we can cram some serious supplies back there. We still have to bring in the big guns for really big items, but it more than does the job for a run to Lowe’s or Ikea!
The small-crossover is well worth a test-drive if you are looking to buy a new vehicle!
Christina R. says
I wish that I had as much success with Home Depot truck rental, as you have.
When I was moving from my apartment into our new home, we decided to rent a truck from Home Depot to move my full size bed, frame and mattress (With our pair of Ford Focus’, it just wasn’t feasible). The service department refused to let us rent the truck without a Home depot purchase. So my husband and I ended up buying a sheet of drywall for $8 to rent the truck. We got some dirty looks and never felt comfortable in that store again!
Hopefully, it was just at that specific location and other people have some better luck!
That’s crazy Christina! We definitely have known people to walk in and rent a truck without purchasing anything else (like the woman who picked up our mattress from Craigslist after we recommended the use of HD’s truck rental service). And come to think of it when we rented the HD truck to haul our hardibacker and lumber we did it at a separate desk, so they had no idea we purchased those things anyway. So sorry you had such bad luck with it!
Enterprise will rent a full size cargo van for $40 a day. Through discover you can double the value of your cash back bonus and get a $40 gift card for $20. Top it off, the enterprise by me is not open Sunday, so if I make the rental Saturday morning I won’t have to return it until some time before they open Monday, that gives me a whole weekend. They have no mileage limit, but you do have to fill it back up with gas.
I own a civic, fiance owns an accord hatchback, amazing how much stuff fits in her car even thought he civic is larger. Hatchbacks are great for fitting in odd shaped items.
Sarah @ Dream In Domestic says
This post couldn’t have come at a better time! My first car I started driving when I was 16 is about to die and my parents and I are looking at used cars that we will all help pay for as a 21st birthday/early graduation present for me this summer. I was thinking of going with an SUV or a minivan because I know once I graduate and am completely on my own, I will be buying furniture and larger items that I will need to be able to haul. I will look into more options, but it sounds like I wouldn’t have too much trouble if I bought a small car with good gas mileage and rented a truck to haul items only when I need them. I probably would end up saving more money that way than buying a van that will haul things every once in a while but paying a higher price because they don’t get as good of gas mileage as most cars.
OMG thank you for this! First, I had no idea about the truck rental at Home Depot. This solves a big issue I’ve been having about how to get some large pieces of pegboard home for my laundry room redo. Second, I’m hoping the Habitat ReStore will be able to come pick up all of our unsold items at a rather large yard sale we are having in a month. Thanks guys!
My boyfriend collects arcade games/machines and he has a Nissan Maxima. Unfortunately, we would never be able to fit a “cab” in his car. Luckily, I have a Mazda hatchback and LOVE it! And so does he because we have managed to fit 4 different kinds of arcade machines into the back with the seats folded down and made trekks from all over New England! It worked like a charm and I will never go back to a sedan now! I’m a hatchback gal for life!
(sorry for the second comment here …)
On the topic of Nissans, I love mine. I have a Rogue, which is Nissan’s smaller crossover. It drives like a car, but has ample room in the back for my projects and the kids’ double stroller. And because it’s a 4 cylinder, it is great on gas (and still has a lot of pep!). Highly recommend.
Michelle B. says
I could’ve written this post myself! All of these ways are exactly how we haul/transport/move our large items. Friends with trucks are my best friends!
We are a two car family (an Altima and a Taurus)… and I chuckled when I read you traded in your Maxima with 200,000 miles on it for an Altima. We did the same exact thing last year. I love my Altima.
Jenny D. says
This is funny that you posted this today. I recently got a new (to me anyway) Volvo XC90, and have been convinced that it is big enough to hold anything! Well, we sure had a few nervewracking moments at Home Depot yesterday when trying to fit a 4’x4′ piece of quarter inch thick plywood in the back of that thing without scratching everything up! I was just about to take it back in to the cutting center, when we managed to bow the middle enough to make it fit. Phew!
My old college car was not so big though (2 door Ford Escort). Once, a friend and I bought a table and chairs at IKEA (named Jokkmokk) that all came in one big box. Well, we sure thought we were awesome, because we got the whole box in my Escort with the seats folded down & could even close the trunk! Alas, when we got home, we couldn’t get the box out! We had to open the box and take all the pieces out! Haha, oops.
I don’t think anyone has mentioned this yet, but I just saw over the weekend that Lowe’s also rents trucks for $19.
Thanks for the Lowe’s tip Jenny D. We didn’t know they were in on the truck rental thing too!
My husband had a similar experience to Christina at Lowes renting a truck. They were giving him a hard time about the fact that he wasn’t buying anything, so he said he would go buy something to rent it. Finally the guy just let him do it. I think it may have something to do with what time of day or day of the week you try to do it. They want the trucks to be available to folks that are purchasing large items at their stores.
Through his work, my husband gets a membership to zipcar, and there happens to be a pickup truck in a lot near our house, so we have used that method more than once for craigslist purchases.
That’s so interesting Amy! It probably makes sense that they want the trucks to be available for people buying a ton of HD stuff so they can get it home. Our Home Depot has a number of trucks on hand so it seems that they’re less worried about the availability issue (there are always a few sitting in the parking lot just waiting to be rented). Hope it helps!
8+ ft ladder in my honda fit – with the doors closed. The guy at Lowes who helped me get the ladder in (I was preggo) was more than SHOCKED!
Here in Newport News, Uhauls cost mileage no matter how far you go. Last year we took one three miles and paid forty bucks. The hold on my credit card was over 100 dollars! So not worth it if we were just getting something off of craigslist.
I didn’t know you could rent the Home Depot trucks if you didn’t buy anything. Do you have to be 25? For drivers under 25 it costs an arm and a leg to rent any type of vehicle! Has caused me to turn down more than a couple really sweet finds I wanted off of craigslist. I am personally way too wary of using ‘man with a van’.
Just call your local Home Depot and see how they do things there. As far as we can tell their policies may differ slightly from store to store, but many people have commented about using the $20 deal so that seems to be pretty standard no matter where you live. At ours your age didn’t matter (they just required a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance). Hope it helps!
Totally agree on all of the above tips, Sherry!
Here’s a funny story. I used to drive a VW Beetle (the newer kind with the fold down seats) and when I helped my brother move one time, we tried every single car in the house before deciding that my wee lil’ car was the only one that could fit his gi-normous TV (back in the day before they were small and skinny). We had several large and medium sedans and the smallest car in the house ended up being the best hauler!
Takeaway lesson? You don’t need a big car to haul! Just a little bit of ingenuity!
Great post from a small car lover myself (Toyota Matrix gal)
[email protected] says
My husband has a 2003 Toyota Matrix. In this model the back seats and the front passenger seat fold flat and even with the small cargo area in the back. We have been able to fit a tremendous amount of stuff in that car when needed.
I also vote for the hatchback instead of sedan approach. I have an A3 (bought used, of course!) which, with the back seats folded forward, has been known to swallow up a dining room tabletop. I think the A3 is a bit bigger than a Honda Fit or Mini Cooper but definitely smaller than a Matrix.
I love my car.
When we bought our house we were shocked at how many people told us we would have to get a bigger car for “house things.” We still drive the cars we got in high school (me–Camry) and college (husband–Maxima), both 10 years old and hope they last 2-3 more years. We’ve fit 8 foot long shelves (out the sunroof), a desk, bushes, and tons of other things in our cars. The only time we had an issue (2 large bookcases we found a an outlet that were a total steal) we rented a truck from Home Depot, no problem. $20 is MUCH cheaper than the added gas and insurance on a newer, bigger car.