As the warmer weather shows us that it’s here to stay, cottagers begin to flock to their home away from home and get it ready for summer. However, any cottage owner knows that opening up for the season is not as easy as some might think. After a few months away and plenty of winter weather, the property is going to need some TLC both inside and out to have it guest-ready.
While every retreat is different depending on the surroundings, such as on the lake or in the middle of the forest, here are some tips that will help get any cottage ready for summer.
1. Plan Before the First Visit
If you need professionals to turn on things like your gas lines, ensure you have scheduled them to do so before you get there. Here are some other tips to help you plan:
- When you are packing up before the drive, don’t forget to include linens, toiletries, and other items you plan to leave there throughout the season.
- Make a quick shopping trip for pantry essentials that can last a long time in the cupboards before expiring.
- Bring a tool kit for easy repairs and a first aid kit in case of small emergencies.
- Before you head out, don’t forget any sets of keys you might need to get into gates, doors, or sheds.
2. Perform a Complete Perimeter Walk-around
After you’ve arrived, one of the first things you should do is inspect the outdoors. Compile a list of anything that needs immediate attention, such as a downed tree. Afterwards, head inside and inspect for damage. If you think you will need professional repair help, review your cottage insurance coverage to see if it can take care of the costs. In these cases, it’s a good idea to take photos or videos of any damage or potential hazards, as this can be helpful when filing an insurance claim.
It’s likely that you already have a checklist of things you want to get done prior to your walkthrough, so this step will solidify these points and help you focus your efforts on what is most important.
3. Check for Pests
Pests like rodents, insects, and other critters can be a real problem during the summer months and can cause damage to your property, so it’s essential to check your cottage for any signs of infestation before you start using it. Here are some general steps to follow:
- Inspect the exterior of your property: Look for holes or cracks in the foundation, gaps around windows and doors, and any other area where critters might be able to enter. Pay special attention to areas where your utilities, like water, gas, or electrical lines, enter your cottage.
- Keep an eye out for the signs: Inside your cottage, look for signs of pests, like droppings, urine stains, chewed wires or wood, or damaged insulation. Keep in mind that rodents tend to be most active at night, so if you’re suspicious of an infestation, continue your inspection with a flashlight to uncover their hiding spots.
- Check your food storage areas: Ants, cockroaches, mice, and other pests are attracted to food. So, look for infestation signs in your pantry, cabinets, or refrigerator, especially if you left some non-perishables around during the winter.
If you find any signs of pests, you can set traps, use pesticides, or call a professional exterminator.
4. Have a Cleaning Strategy
All the chores that need to be done won’t be finished in a day or perhaps even a weekend. Write out cleaning tasks for both the outside and the inside, like raking leaves and cleaning the eavestroughs, scrubbing the floors, and washing the curtains. Assign each task an estimated amount of time to complete, and plan your day accordingly. Have each family member choose a chore they can get done solo and come together on projects that need more than one set of hands to be completed. The whole place can then be cleaned up in very little time, enabling you to kick back and enjoy it to the fullest in safety and comfort!
5. Test Your Utilities
If you’ve had a professional turn on your utilities, they have likely inspected these systems to verify that they’re working correctly. If you are turning them back on yourself, this job falls to you. Test out your HVAC system so you can plan for any maintenance or repairs. Take extra precautions when testing wall plugs or electrical components, especially if you suspect pest or water damage. Turn on all the taps and flush the toilet to ensure everything is running smoothly. Replace the batteries in things like flashlights and smoke detectors as well, as they could have corroded over the winter.
6. Prepare Your Outdoor Space
Preparing your outdoor space is an important step in getting your cottage ready for the summer. After all, you’ll likely spend a lot of your time outside soaking up the sun. There are various steps you can take to ensure your yard is ready for the warmer months ahead:
- Clean up your yard: Collect debris such as fallen branches or leaves and rake the leaves into yard waste bags and dispose of them properly. Clear out any weeds and trim back overgrown plants or shrubs to help make everything look neat and tidy.
- Set up outdoor furniture: This might include chairs, tables, and umbrellas. Ensure the furniture is clean and in good condition. If you need to replace anything, consider investing in pieces that are designed to withstand outdoor conditions.
- Prepare your pool or hot tub: If you have a pool or hot tub at your cottage, take the time to clean it and get it ready to use. Test the water and adjust the chemicals as needed. Additionally, make sure all your equipment, like pumps and filters, is in good working order.
7. Create a Maintenance Schedule
To create a maintenance schedule, start by identifying regular tasks that need to be done at your cottage. This can include lawn mowing, cleaning the gutters, checking for leaks, and maintaining appliances. Once you have a list of recurring chores, assign each one to specific dates in your calendar to ensure you don’t forget about them. Consider prioritizing the tasks based on importance. For example, safety-related, like checking smoke detectors, should come before all else.
Maintenance schedules are especially critical if you’re not there often or if you rent it out. If you’re away from the property, it can be easy to forget about these tasks, leading to more significant problems down the road — and you or your guests never want to be greeted by an unkept cottage.
8. Verify Your Insurance
It’s also important to review your insurance policy regularly to ensure it still meets your needs. If you’ve made any changes to the property or the way you use it, such as adding a pool or hot tub, you may need to update your coverage. Additionally, if you’ve made any major purchases or acquired any valuable items that you keep at your cottage, you may need to increase your protection.
Having cottage insurance coverage is essential not only to protect the property in case of damage but also for the people who are staying there. If you plan to rent out the space, you must let your insurer know, as some policies will not cover renters.
Stay Covered this Summer
At Tanner Insurance, we provide our clients with solutions that suit their unique cottage needs. Our policies are customized for each property, and we make the process of understanding what and who is covered both simple and affordable. Contact us for your free quote or to learn more about our insurance options.