What is a Cubic Metre?

This is the MOST important equation you need to know to make sure you are getting the best deal when moving house or office…

What is a Cubic Metre?

Measuring cubic metres explained

A cubic metre (m3 or CBM) is a just another way of saying a block of space that measures 1m x 1m x 1m, height x width x depth. This calculation gives you a far more accurate indication of volume which translates to how much space you will require on a truck. This unit of measurement is how furniture removalists measure space in their trucks.

A good example of a cubic metre is to stack 8 medium – large moving boxes together to get a feeling for how much space 1 cubic metre takes up.

removalists how big is 1 cubic meter

How many cubic metres are you moving is always the first question the Muval team asks as it determines so much about your move. It can be easy to get caught up in your move and run your estimates based on area which would be m2, length x width, however our furniture items have depth, not just a surface area, in which case it’s important to use the proper m3 calculations to work out the total volume.

How much space do popular household items take up?

To give a further indication of how to calculate a cubic metre, take a solid buffet unit as an example that is 1.8m long, 0.75m high and 0.75m deep, it could calculate 1.8 x 0.75 x 0.75 = 1.01m3. You would require 1.01m3 of space for this individual piece. If an item is an odd shape, imagine a box around it and use its greatest points. Take a Sofa for instance, estimating the volume of this item, you would measure its full length, the width from base to base and the height from the base to highest point of the back rest, not to the height of the chair.

removalists household item volume


Popular Items

Volume of Space (m3) per item



Queen Bed


Dining Table






TV Unit


Book Case


Coffee Table




3 Seater Couch


As you look around your spaces and start to gather an idea of which items will be making the move with you, thinking of your items in terms of blocks will make it far easier to estimate. Items such as fridges and washing machines, dining tables and chairs are items that you would easily resemble with a volume of space. Items such a bicycle or surfboard may be hard to envisage as a measurement of volume, so it is important to imagine a box around these items and measure the imaginary box.

How to calculate m3 for each item

For the everyday mathematician these calculations might come easy, nevertheless, if this is not your natural talent, using the Muval inventory calculator means you can identify items in your home quickly and conveniently giving you an accurate estimate your total m3 space.


muval inventory

What happens from this point, is the Muval quote will work out how much space you need which will ultimately avoid any additional charges on pick up day due to an underestimate of furniture items.

Removalists use this method to calculate your quote by knowing how much space they will have on their truck. Typically long distance removals will quote based on a cubic metre price and having a clear indication of items gives Removalists an idea of which size truck they will need to provide and generally how many people they will need to help move your items for the job.

What size truck do I need for my house move?

Unless you are moving yourself out, and renting your own ute or van, your Removalists will bring the right size trucks / truck for the inventory items and cubic metre space provided.

For this – trucks can vary in size to hold from 20m3, 30m3, 40m3 up to 70m3+

removalist trucksize backloading

If you have less than the minimum amount of space required to fill a full truck, don’t worry – you can book in for a backload, where the truck space is securely separated and safely shared with other customers items as part of the same location to location move. This will help you to save money as well.

Get as accurate as possible:

Knowing now about m3 and the role it plays in moving house there are a few factors which could contribute to your final quote to help keep costs to a minimum.

Don’t guesstimate:

It adds up to be only an extra few minutes of time to do, but, it is often best to do a thorough inventory calculation rather than a room estimator to calculate your quote. If you were to select a 3 bedroom house and there is one room that is completely bare your quote will ultimately be higher as the calculator assumes it is moving a full 3 bedroom house. See below as a good example for how much difference in time and potential per/m3 dollars there are if you guess your size wrong.

3 Bedroom House

Estimate Truck Space Required

Estimate Time Required

Lightly Furnished


7.9 hours

Moderately Furnished


8.9 hours

Heavily Furnished


9.7 hours

removalists howbig is 15cubicmetres

Similarly – if you think you’ve got enough goods to fill a single car garage (approximately 15m3) or you think you could fill a double car garage (30m3) with all of your furniture - but you haven’t calculated for the space that’s wasted where items can be easily stacked on top of each other, you may find yourself paying for more time or space than needed.

 removalists howbig is 30cubicmetres


You will find for both local and interstate moves some companies will offer discounts on larger amounts of items.

Start your online quote now to find out more about how much space you'll need for your next move or call Muval on 1300 168 825.

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