By Jessica Thiefels
Winter is a great time for vacation homeowners, both in cold and warm locations. Like any other time of the year, anything can happen while your visitors are staying in town, but if you plan accordingly, you’ll have a stress-free few months before spring arrives. Use these tips to prep your vacation home for cooler climates and brush up on best practices and ways to save, no matter where the home is located.
1. Tune-Up Your Furnace
Imagine visitors arriving for a fun-filled getaway only to discover a broken furnace. Preventative maintenance is often the last thing on your mind this time of year, but getting a regular tune-up should be moved to the top of your to-do list.
According to EcoEnvironments, preventative maintenance for your heating and cooling system is as equally important as regular oil changes for your vehicle. Parts and pieces of your furnace can wear out with use and age; so instead of waiting for an available HVAC professional on the coldest week of the year, plan ahead.
Benefits to regular tune-ups include the health and safety for your guests, while increasing longevity of your system and lower energy costs.
2. Stock Up (And Save On) Necessities
You like to keep a well-stocked home for visitors. Before the rental rush, it’s important to head to your local drug store to get all the usual items, like shampoo and conditioner, paper towels and more. Unfortunately, these can add up quickly at the cash register, surprising you with a total much higher than you were expecting.
These high prices aren’t on accident, however. You may be falling victim to the Pink Tax, a phenomenon in which items created specifically for women are more expensive than the gender-neutral or male counterpart. This exists for men as well, called the Blue Tax.
To avoid unnecessarily high prices, go for the gender-neutral option whenever possible. With razors, for example, those marketed toward men are cheaper according to this 2016 Pink Tax Survey—the only other difference is that they aren’t pink or purple.
3. Leave Detailed Instructions
Colder weather often requires more specific instructions for visitors, especially if a fireplace, wood stove or finicky heater is involved. A few common directions to spell out in more detail are:
- Fireplace: Can they use it? If so, how do they turn it on and off or find firewood?
- Hot water heater: Should they turn it on upon arrival and off when they leave? If so, where and how do they do that?
- Thermostat: What temperature should the thermostat be set to when departing?
- Shoes: Should they be left at the door to avoid snow tracking through? If not, include details to cleaning puddles from melted snow.
4. Invest in Winter Necessities
If you own a rental where it frequently snows, make sure you have a snow shovel or blower available, with directions for where to find them. If you’re your rental is located on a ski slope, buy extra gloves, hats or even hand warmers.
If you’re looking to upgrade before your first winter visitors, Summit Mountain Rentals reports a private hot tub is the number one amenity you should consider offering to your visitors. It’s a great investment because guests are willing to pay more for properties with hot tubs and often even expect certain properties, like private mountain homes, to have one.
5. Consider Accessibility
If you know your rental property is going to be hard to get to during the winter months, let visitors know that ahead of time. Considering most rental cars are 2-wheel drive, arriving to an un-drivable road will be frustrating and inconvenient. This is just as important in warm-weather climates, if you tend to get a lot of rain this time of year. Muddy dirt roads can be tricky to navigate if you’re not used to driving on them.
In addition, as the host, it’s up to you to have consistent snow removal and safe walkways and driveways for your visitors. Seasonal snow plowing services will be the most convenient if you don’t plan to shovel after each snowfall.
6. The Outside is Just As Important as the Inside
Whether your home is in a warm or cold climate this winter, there’s likely a little work to be done before visitors arrive. Here are a few ways to make your home feel like new for everyone:
- Re-caulk window sills and door frames, especially in cold weather homes.
- Have debris and leaves cleaned from your gutters.
- Check the roof for damaged or missing shingles.
- Disconnect garden hoses and turn off exterior faucets.
- Drain sprinkler-system pipes to avoid freezing.
- Make sure chimney vents are clean and in good repair, especially if guests will be using the fireplace.
Going above and beyond to prepare for winter visitors will help your rental property get better reviews—ultimately generating more revenue for you. While it might be overwhelming, the first step is to make a list. Schedule a time to get out to your rental and start as soon as possible.