Snowbirds Flock Home

By Christopher Crown

March 20, 2018 4 min read

Nothing ruins the excitement of returning to the family summer home more than driving up to find a slew of things that broke or leaked during the winter. To avoid this, you put much effort into the process of closing down your vacation home at the end of the season -- but what's the most efficient way to reopen the family cabin? Several home specialists and real estate authorities weigh in on the best tips for streamlining your summer setup.

To spend as little time and effort reopening your vacation home as possible, it's imperative to follow some of the end-of-season closing protocols. Scott Stueber, blogger for West Bend Cares, says that the first and most important step is to do a complete walk-around of your property, assess any damage and create a plan for dealing with it either before close-down or after reopening. Key areas to investigate include the roof, the chimney, eaves, gutters, siding and any trees that are leaning over your property or have branches near windows. Although this can take away from the Labor Day weekend fun, a proper full-house inspection and some tree trimming can save thousands of dollars in roof and deck repair. Additionally, it is critical to turn off your water supply, clean and unplug all appliances, set your thermostat to the appropriate settings, and pack up all valuables and outdoor furniture. With these simple steps, reopening will be a breeze.

When the season finally comes back around and it's time to reopen your vacation home, tenant needs are the first important factor to consider. If you are renting your vacation home, there will most likely be more immediate repairs and improvements necessary to make your home presentable. If it's just your family, you might have a little more time to re-stain the deck or polish the floors. However, there are some universal steps to making a vacation home livable again. HouseLogic, a resource for home maintenance, lays out the checklist (although simply retracing your close-down checklist can often cover most reopening needs):

--Conduct another walk-around. Look for any evidence of winter damage, and take this opportunity to trim back any winter growth from surrounding trees, grasses and shrubs.

--Restock the kitchen, pantry and bathroom, looking for any evidence of rodents, insects or moth damage to linens.

--Inspect and plug in all utilities. Follow this by turning on the water (and electricity, if applicable).

--Check all smoke detectors, and replace batteries.

--Replace all furnace filters and any necessary lightbulbs.

In addition to HouseLogic's advice, it is also crucial to open the windows to get rid of any stale air and also run water through all the appropriate appliances until any rust or air pockets have passed. Towels and sheets will need rewashing if they smell funky, and outdoor furniture should be dusted and put back out.

By following these simple steps, you can take the guesswork out of reopening your vacation home and more quickly get to what's important: relaxing.

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