Opening a vacation home When it’s time to visit your vacation home for the first time, or start renting it out for the season, you’ll need to get it ready. A ski chalet might require you to shovel snow and chop firewood, while a summer retreat by the shore might call for cleaning patio furniture and staining the deck. Much depends on how well the house is maintained throughout the year. Opening your vacation home could be as easy as stocking the pantry, or if the house was neglected in the offseason, you could have multiple repairs on your hands. A well-maintained vacation home shouldn’t take more than a day to get in shape for the season, assuming no major repairs are needed. Here are some typical opening chores:
- Turn on utilities
- Clean and stock kitchen and bathrooms
- Look for evidence of plumbing and roof leaks
- Cut lawn and trim shrubs/trees
- Clear walkways and driveway
- Set up outdoor furniture
- Change light bulbs and smoke detector batteries and carbon monoxide detector batteries
- Replace furnace filters
- Check for signs of pest infestation
It’s many homeowners’ worst fear to come home to a water disaster in their home. Water damage can cost thousands to repair and will include a lengthy process in order to adhere to safety standards, potentially disrupting your home life for weeks. In this article we’ll give you tips on how to avoid water damage and what to do when you discover it.
Water damage vs. flood damageMany people are unaware of the difference between water damage and flood damage. Water damage can occur when you have plumbing issues such as a leaking pipe or overflowing bath tub. Flood damage, on the other hand, is defined by FEMA as an “overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters,” or even mudflow. Flood damage tends to be the more costly and the more dangerous of the two, as it puts home inhabitants at serious health risk. Part of the stipulation in differing between the two types of damage is insurance coverage; water damage is often covered by homeowner’s insurance whereas flood damage is not.
Avoiding water damageTo avoid costly and time-consuming repairs, follow these steps to prevent water damage from occurring in your home:
- Keep your gutters clean to avoid backups and drainage issues
- divert rain water away from your house with downspouts
- Disconnect hoses and turn off their water supply when temperatures drop to freezing overnight
- Don’t leave water using appliances running while you are away from home for extended periods of time
- Keep up with maintenance on your dishwasher, washing machine, toilets, and tubs
- Turn off your water main when you go away on vacations
- Check the water pressure to your home. High water pressure can be nice in the shower, but pressures too high can cause your plumbing to fail
- Check regularly for leaks. Some water damage may go unnoticed for weeks or months, which subjects you to another danger: mold
What to do if you have water damage in your homeIf it’s too late for prevention and you’ve discovered water damage in your home there are several steps you’ll need to take to ensure the safety of your home.
- Turn off electronics in the affected area. If possible switch off power to whole the whole section of your home at the circuit breaker. This first step is to ensure your own safety. Once you’ve turned off power to all potentially dangerous electronics, you can move on to the next step.
- Remove electronics and other perishable items from the area. If you remove the items soon enough you might be able to salvage them by drying them out.
- Soak up the bulk of the water. You can do this the old fashion way by using towels and buckets. Or you can use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the water from rugs, carpets, and other surfaces.
- Dry the area completely. To avoid mold, use fans and a dehumidifier to fully dry out the area.
- Disinfect. Spray the area to remove any bacteria that may have accumulated due to moisture.
- Contact the professionals. A contractor will be able to tell you the full extent of the damage and whether any serious repairs will need to me made.
Foran Realty that will help make it happen. Do keep in mind that renting out your home can be a big undertaking, so it is important to know what you are getting into, and to prepare accordingly. With a little bit of planning and hard work, you can put your home to work for you! Getting your Home Ready to Rent
- Keep careful records.Rental income is taxable, but many of the expenses you will incur as you prepare your rental are tax deductible. Keep detailed records of the money and time you spend getting your home ready to rent so that you can maximize your deductions at tax time.
- Apply for a rental permit.Permits are not necessary in all areas, especially for short-term rentals, but many cities are responding to the growth of new rental trends by creating new forms of regulation. If a permit is required in your area, give yourself plenty of time to get through the application process before your first guests arrive. Remember that permitting and inspection fees, like all other expenses you incur while preparing your rental property, are tax deductible so be sure to keep careful records.
- Acquire landlord insurance.Call your local insurance agent and ask if your current homeowner’s policy will cover the kind of rental situation you will be offering. Many policies will cover the occasional short-term rental, but for more long-term arrangements, you may need special coverage.
- Prepare your home to rent, inside and out.Make sure that all appliances work, that furniture is comfortable and in good repair, and that everything is clean and neat. Ensure that safety equipment like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are in good working order and are clearly accessible. Remove all precious personal belongings to a secure location, such as a storage unit or primary home. Do the same with all toiletries and anything else you wouldn’t want a stranger snooping through. Put clean linens on all of the beds (if you are planning on supplying linens), and make sure that bathrooms are stocked with clean towels, soap dispensers are full, etc. The requirements for safety equipment in rental properties vary widely by region. Smoke detectors are the bare minimum in most places. You will be informed of further requirements through the permitting process. Unless you are going for a very high-end rental, do not furnish your rental with extremely expensive furniture, linens, towels, etc. These items are likely to get damaged or disappear. Look for items of decent quality that are not too expensive but are still comfortable.
- Hire a reputable cleaning service.Some property owners are able to minimize costs by performing rental clean-outs on their own, but this can be a very time-consuming and difficult process, so it might be better worth your time to hire a professional service. If you do, be sure to do some research first and hire a reputable company that is licensed and insured. Get personal recommendations from your rental agent, other property owners, or look for a service with excellent online recommendations.
- Hire a landscaping service.As with cleaning, some property owners take on landscaping chores themselves, but you may be better off hiring a landscaping service to take care of routine lawn maintenance and care. Landscaping services, like cleaning services and other maintenance costs are all tax deductible, and a well-maintained yard is more likely to get good reviews and repeat renters.
- Create a system for providing a key or entry instructions to your guests. This is something that can be handled by your rental agent should you choose to use one. The check in and checkout instructions will be detailed with the lease and any inquiries etc. can be directed to the rental agent and their office, freeing you up to enjoy your time!
- Create a welcome book or informational packet to give to renters when they arrive.Include information about the home and the local area. Providing information on local attractions and dining options, as well as emergency contact information is an option that guests love. Leaving a welcome gift like a fruit basket or bottle of wine is another great way to welcome guests and keep them coming back year after year.
climates….but what preparations are necessary when you are going to live in that home all winter? Bob Vila from “This Old House” has put together a thorough checklist to ensure the efficiency and lifespan of your home and its components. Preparing the exterior of your home for the harsh New England winds, the snow and ice is crucial for keeping the cold out and the heat in! So where do you start…..Here are several ideas from Bob Vila and Bobvila.com. Windows and Doors
- Check all the weather-stripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weather-stripping, if necessary.
- Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
- Replace all window screens with storm windows.
- Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
- Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
- Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.
- Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
- Ensure rain or snow drains are directed away from the house in order to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
- Clean and dry patio furniture and cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
- Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
- Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
- Inspect decks for splintering, decay or insect damage. Treat if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
- Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
- Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of slips and falls on icy walkways at night.
- Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.
- Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
- Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
- Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
- Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
- Inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
- Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.
- Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
- Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
- Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
- Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
- Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.
- Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
- Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
- Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
- Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
- Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
- Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
Increasing the value of your home doesn’t always require a significant amount of money or time. The benefits are far reaching. A lift in the value of your home can shorten the path to selling your current house so that you can move into a better residence. Of course, it will also improve your equity. These steps can increase your home’s value without breaking the bank. Paint can do wonders Apply a new layer of paint to each room at your house. Fresh paint is one of the quickest ways to give your house a face lift and increase the value of your home. Consider going with neutral colors, especially if you plan on selling your house soon. Carpet can improve air quality Installing new carpet or pulling up the existing carpet and going with hardwood floors is another way to enhance your entire house. Not only can new carpet lend your house a more modern look, new carpet can also improve your house’s air quality by getting rid of contaminants and allergens. Live mold free Check window edges, the bathroom, basement, kitchen and other areas where water collects for mold. Use a brush to scrub away mold. Make sure that you wear rubber gloves. If mold covers an entire wall or other large spot, contact a professional. You don’t want mold spores to spread. Safety counts To increase the value of your home, upgrade exterior and interior doors. Another option is to upgrade your door locks. A safe home is attractive to potential buyers. Concerning safety, make sure that windows in your home have safety locks on them and that they are designed to be opened from the inside instead of the outside. Give the kitchen and bathroom a lot of attention Upgrade bathroom and kitchen faucets. Brown, wood cabinets can also add value to your bathroom or kitchen. If you’re looking to save even more money on upgrades, consider hanging a decorative mirror over the bathroom sink and installing a shower spigot that has a massage feature. While you’re in the bathroom, lay new tile and add caulking to shower or tub edges. Go for great lighting Replace plain ceiling lights with stylish lights that also operate as ceiling fans. Save money on table lights by purchasing unique lamp shades. While you’re thinking about lighting, consider upgrading window treatments. For example, you could hang neutral colored blinds. Other options include cellular shades, roller shades, wood shades, drapes and vertical blinds. Get outside Work with your entire family to clean weeds, leaves and litter out of your front and back yards. Plant flowers at the edges of your house. Also, trim hedges and bushes. If your garage and house need to be washed, grab a hose and wash away dirt and stains. Adding new handrails to the front and back porch steps is another way to increase the current value of your home. Your neighborhood also plays a role in the value of your home. Get involved in community and local government events. Report suspicious persons or activities. Get to know your neighbors and encourage the best in each other.]]>