While autumn is a time of breathtaking beauty, it also marks the bittersweet moment when you bid farewell to summer and prepare to close up your cherished cottage. With the unforgiving winters of Ontario on the horizon, it’s essential to lavish a little tender loving care on your beloved getaway before the cold season takes hold. Your cottage isn’t just a place; it’s a significant investment deserving of safeguarding. To help you get started these are a few crucial steps to take before the snow blankets the landscape.
Your Cottage Closing Checklist: Make A List, Check It Twice
First and foremost, make a list of all the tasks that need to be done so that you can check them off as you go and also have a reference in spring when you’re re-opening. If you don’t already have it, be sure that you have cottage insurance in place in case of unforeseen issues over the winter. The last thing you want to have on your hands is costly repairs when you return to it.
Keep It Clean & Tidy
This means more than just sweeping the floor, defrosting the fridge, and wiping down the counters.
- Make sure you take all of your valuables home with you.
- Any small appliances and electronics should be packed up and moved.
- Be sure you have window coverings so that anyone scoping out the area doesn’t see the potential for theft.
- Take out all garbage and recycling and, either take it home for disposal or ask a neighbour to check that it has been picked up properly.
- Dispose of any loose paper, newspapers, or oil rags that are potential fire hazards and great nesting places for rodents.
- Don’t leave any chemicals, such as cleaners, and be sure to dispose of them properly.
Shut Off The Electricity
This one’s kind of a double-edged sword. Ideally, you should shut down the power with the main switch. However, if you have an alarm or monitoring system, you will probably have to leave it running. If possible off all major appliances, heaters, and water heaters before flipping the main power switch. If you’re leaving the power on, unplug all your major appliances, and be sure to arrange with your service provider to disconnect your wifi and TV and unplug any modems or cable boxes.
Drain and Turn Off Your Water
If you turn off the heat in the winter, you’ll have to shut off your water, as well. But also, it’s important to make sure to drain your pipes so you don’t have a line burst over the winter months. To do this you’ll need to turn off the main water valve, then turn on your faucets until the water stops flowing. For added insurance, you can wrap your pipes to keep them warm during the colder months if you’d like a little extra peace of mind. You might also drain your cottage’s water tank and give your sump pump a check-up to be sure it’s working before you wrap up.
Check Your Septic
Most cottages will have a septic tank for sewage. It’s a good idea to have an annual service call before the end of the summer. The average septic tank needs to be pumped every 4-6 years, or less if it’s an older tank. This is not an issue you want to deal with when you reopen the cottage so taking a pro-active approach is a smart move.
Make It Unattractive To Furry Guests
One of the best things about owning a cottage is the nature that surrounds it – including the wildlife. However, as cute as some of these critters are, you don’t want them making a home inside your cottage. Take a tour around your cottage to see if there are openings where critters can come in and repair or fill them. You’ll also want to remove all the food from the cupboards and empty the fridge. If your cottage has a fireplace, make sure to close the damper and put a cap on the chimney or vent. You can even throw some mothballs, or cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, around the cottage. Bugs and animals alike hate the smell of mothballs so it is an affordable preventative measure to take.
Don’t Forget To Inspect The Outside
Knowing what’s happening on the outside of your cottage is just as important as the inside. Check your roof for missing shingles or mold and ensure your eavestroughs are clear. Trim any tree branches that are hanging over your cottage find a local company to visit during the winter and shovel snow off the roof if necessary. You could also have a company or neighbour monitor the weather where your cottage is located while you are away so that you can be informed if there is any potential storm damage to deal with.
Winterize your hot tub (if you have one)
With more people renting out their vacation homes, extra amenities, like hot tubs, have become a popular feature. Closing a hot tub involves more than just draining the tub. There are a few safety and ecological components involved so your best bet is to hire a local maintenance company to do a proper job so you don’t experience any damage during the colder months.
Plan Now For Spring
Yes, we’re talking about closing the cottage but scheduling any repairs or upgrades for the spring is a good idea to book early. Often times you can secure a lower rate or take advantage of a promotional offer if your work is booked before the year’s end. It could also be difficult to get tradespeople to work on your cottage once the warmer weather is here so forward thinking tends to pay off. For DIY repairs, you should make note of what supplies and tools you’ll need so you can bring them with you in the spring too.
Keep Things Under Lock and Key
During the winter months, cottages are often targeted by thieves who are looking for easy money while you’re gone. With today’s smart technology, it’s easy to install a monitoring system that is accessed on a phone or tablet for added security plus you can turn lights on or off randomly. Be sure that any small watercraft, BBQs, or other valuables are stored in a clean, dry place under lock and key. If you store your boat on-site, be sure to maintain it properly and take the keys home with you. If possible ask a neighbour who stays all year or visits during snowmobile weather, to do a quick check on your cottage when they have time. Or, if the roads are maintained, drive up yourself to take a look around. It will be a peaceful adventure in the snow, that might be as magical as it is logical.
Whether your cottage is a family retreat or a vacation rental, it is a valuable asset. By undertaking these crucial steps to winterize your cottage, you’re not only safeguarding your property but also preserving your hard-earned investment.
And, remember, whether you’re on the hunt for a vacation or residential property, or it’s time for your cottage’s mortgage renewal, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Give me a call today at 705-315-0516 or click here to book a consultation online. Together we can delve into your financial objectives, explore your mortgage choices, and kickstart your customized action plan to ensure you’re taking advantage of the best mortgage rates and options available.