For those who have seasonal cottage rentals, or only keep their cottages open for short stretches into the spring and summer months, this is a really good article to help in itemizing your “should do’s” and “don’t forget’s”. You know who you are…..Ontarians and Quebecois who really cannot do the trek back and forth in the snow filled highways and byways! Have no worries, we are here to help keep you on target and make your opening fluid and successful.
A couple of things to keep in mind as we navigate through all the details, most cottages are in fact seasonal. This means that their usage is segmented to the warmer months. If you have a cottage rental that is winterized (as we do), you may not find this information as applicable or helpful, as yours is open all year. Still it is an interesting read. Also, if you spend Zero time during “shut down” checking things out, and leave it up to the “luck of the draw” that all is well, you might want to start the launch sooner than later, especially if your roof is old and you rely on lake plumbing. Lastly, you should really start this process once the snow has basically melted (mostly) away. Timing is everything.
- Bring a clipboard to make a list of “to do”s and to buy’s”.
- Bring light bulbs, batteries if needed, propane tank if applicable, small kit of basic tools, access to the needed clean up stuff, garbage/recycling bags, flash light, WD40, Lysol or such, candles, rubber/silicone gloves.
- Do the quick once over on the outside. Look for fallen trees, shingles, siding, facia. Walk around the exterior. Some will have a ladder and go on the roof to check things out. For Goodness sakes, if you plan on doing something like that, ensure you are not alone at the time so that someone can support you if something goes wrong.
- Do the quick once over on the inside of the dwelling. Look for cracks or water marks, water stains on the walls. Open up cupboards too and look under sinks. Review the windows and ensure that they too are okay with no cracks or moisture stains. You’ll see it more when the thaw happens. Make a note or too of your findings.
- Mouse traps or Warrafin; you choose. Personally I use the latter annually and have been quite good at keeping the critters away, or at least out of doors. However, every now and then I find droppings which means I have to replenish the supply of Warrafin every so often. But be prepared that you might find remnants. Use your gloves and do not handle anything without protection.
- Pull aside and pull apart furniture and look under and clean out cushions. You’ll be surprised what you find. I keep finding dog food in couch cushions lol! It’s so funny. As clean as I think we are, we always find pet food stored away.
- Turning on taps. Depending upon your set up, you might need some extra support here. If your lines are drained and the pipes disconnected at certain points, toilet also turned off, you are going to need an extra pair of hands and eyes to get everything reconnected and get the pump working again. If you are on a well this might be a bit different from lake water. Seasonal properties always need more attention on plumbing. Don’t take it lightly. Stay on top of all maintenance. Things do not run as smoothly when you shut them down for a big portion of the year.
- Septic systems are not maintenance free either. We put in a special powder that helps keep the septic in “good health” it adds enzymes to the bed that help keep the breakdown of large substances consistent, and makes for a healthy system. You should pop one into your toilet when you open up the cottage for the season, and one every other week for the duration of the summer. Any mass merchant will carry them in cottage country.
- Fresh air makes for a fresh beginning. Open windows and doors, vacuum the carpets, steam them is also a good idea, spray some Lysol or air freshener and light some candles. Try and get the musty smell out of the cottage.
- Check the oven and microwave before you use them. Make sure nothing is lurking behind. Move the major appliances out and do some cleaning. Check the fridge to ensure it is too still working before you start putting food items into it. If you have a dishwasher, I would also suggest a test run before you put in dirty dishes. Washer/dryers are something like other major appliances needs to be tested first before sticking in detergent and dirty laundry. You just never know.
- I would also suggest moving around the bedroom furniture and doing a quick look see under mattresses and box springs. You might find some hidden treasures.
- Brooms are really great at getting at all the dust bunnies and as well the cobwebs. Nothing beats a good, thorough cleaning. Put your best foot forward and get to cleaning.
Opening up your seasonal rental has a lot of details, depending upon your dwelling size and accommodations. Nothing beats a good cleaning, and a check point system that covers off all the majors. If you find something wrong, you can plan to get it fixed or patched. But if you don’t give yourself enough time, you won’t just be disappointing your own family, you’ll be disappointing your guests. No one wants that. Be PROACTIVE.