What to consider when choosing a caretaker

Vacation homes are meant to be a respite from the stress of everyday life, but they come with substantial maintenance and security demands. Full-time occupancy is the best way to minimize the likelihood of burglary and vandalism, as well as to detect problems— such as a burst pipe—that can cause major damage if not detected quickly.

Many owners of seasonal residences aren’t as diligent as they could be once they’re far away from the property. Having a local friend or neighbor who can keep an eye on the house and call you if they notice a problem is a good first step, but it’s preferable to use a professional service for additional protection. After all, a well-intentioned friend may forget to check on the house as regularly as you need, or lack the expertise to recognize certain kinds of maintenance issues early on. An experienced, professional caretaking service can provide several benefits in addition to securing your home:

  • Unlike a friend or neighbor, providing this service is their job and they’re unlikely to “forget” to visit the home or only do a quick drive-by. And they’ll be around even when your friend is out of town or been forced to evacuate in advance of an approaching storm.
  • Caretaker services can be tied into your home’s security system so they can respond right away if the alarm is triggered.
  • They have the experience to understand what kinds of maintenance issues are most common in your area and what the early signs of damage are. Most have either skilled maintenance staff or existing relationships with local contractors who can get to work on needed repairs right away.
  • Most services include help with small tasks such as receiving deliveries and starting any cars stored there.
  • Additional tasks related to opening the home for the season, such as picking you up from the airport or doing the first week’s grocery shopping, usually can be added to your service package.
  • Using a service increases your home’s overall security and will often garner you a discount on your insurance premium, just like having an alarm system.
  • If the home is ever rented out for income, having a professional service on-call for repairs provides additional peace of mind for you and your renters. And fast repairs―especially if the damage creates a potential safety or health issue―can reduce your exposure to potential lawsuits or threats of non-payment.

Choosing a service

If you opt to use a caretaker service, there are several factors to keep in mind. You’ll want to look for a service that:

  • Is insured, licensed and bonded and meets all local regulations
  • Conducts background checks on their employees and logs all individuals that enter your home
  • Can service your home at all hours
  • Has experience in homes in your area―and those that are of similar size, age and style to your own
  • Can provide several local references
  • Details exactly what it provides (room-by-room maintenance checklists, frequency of visits, etc.)
  • Is available when you call from out of town with a question or special request

Last updated: Friday, April 28, 2017

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