This week, Kate Buckley is delighted to feature a guest post by Leslie Spoor, President of Executive Errands®, a Lifestyle Management company servicing the Coachella Valley since 2006. Since creating Executive Errands®, Leslie has become a Certified Concierge Specialist (CCS); earned the 2012 Concierge Member of the Year award from the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association, and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the ICLMA in 2013.
Can you believe it’s already May? As we prepare for the long hot summer, many people are planning to leave for six months while others are going for a month, or just a week or two. No matter how long you’ll be gone, you need to take steps to properly protect your home while you’re away.
In all cases, vacant homes, especially here in the desert, should be checked regularly and by someone experienced in absentee home care. Homes are often the largest investment most people make and to leave it untended is to invite problems. Relying on neighbors or friends can leave things to chance—and can be an unfair amount of responsibility and liability to delegate to the people you care about.
- Broken windows (from the heat or an errant golf ball)
- Termites, both subterranean and wood
- Refrigerator failures
- A/C failures
- Irrigation problems – broken sprinklers, valves or dying plants
- Alarm system failures
- Door lock failures
- Water leaks from clogged condensate lines, leaking toilets, and broken pipes
- Fire sprinkler malfunctions
- Roof leaks and flooding from rain
- Pool problems – chemical imbalances, wind related issues, equipment failures
- Rodents, wasps, bees, black widow spiders, cricket infestations and ants!
If you’re going to be away for just a weekend, your home may well be fine for that short amount of time, but you might want to have someone look in at least once. For a week, once or twice is optimal. For a month, at least two – four times. And if you’re to be gone for the whole summer, then you’ll want to arrange weekly or bi-weekly absentee home checks.
And here’s a bonus: You may be eligible for homeowner’s insurance discounts if you have someone check your home at least twice per month in your absence, so be sure to ask your broker!
Here is our Top Ten List for preparing your home for your absence:
1. Have your A/C serviced – twice per year, once each in April/May and again in Oct/Nov. The amount of sand here makes it necessary, especially to keep the condensate lines clear.
2. Leave the thermostat at 85 degrees or less – That is the optimal temperature you need to help protect wood, furniture, fabrics and art in your home—anything hotter can lead to very serious problems.
3. Clean your windows before you leave and at least once over the summer—harsh sun can etch dirt and sand into the glass, or an irrigation sprinkler might spray the windows, leaving hard water marks that the sun can exacerbate.
4. Leave your refrigerator on – but turn off the icemaker. Purge all perishables and open storage containers (this is true for your pantry as well). Add an open box of baking soda to the refrigerator to absorb odors.
5. Adjust all timers – Irrigation, pool motors and outdoor lighting all need to be adjusted for the hot weather and longer days (and FYI, pool maintenance must be twice per week here, given conditions).
6. Weekly absentee home checks – an inexpensive investment that can help avoid or minimize problems at your home. Be sure there is proper water management as well as checking security and for any other problems which might occur.
7. Local emergency contact – When you’re away, it is wise to entrust someone local with a key to your home; someone you have authorized to act in your absence.
8. Golf cart /automobile battery – these need to be charged, run, and the water in the batteries refilled. Nothing will ruin your batteries faster than water loss and/or lack of use; also consider putting cardboard or a golf cart mat under the tires to help stop them from flattening out in the heat.
9. Have your roof inspected – the sun and wind can create all sorts of problems that can lead to leaks or rodent access spots. Don’t wait for rain (even though it rarely rains). Check your roof, repair loose or broken tiles, and seal all gaps.
10. Pest control service – this is the desert. You need to have pest control—enough said!
If you take these simple steps, you can enjoy your time away knowing your home is properly prepared and being faithfully tended. Be sure to hire an insured and experienced absentee home company, and then relax and enjoy your summer!