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Closing your vacation property for the season

Wind and rain are upon us. The approaching cold weather is a sure sign that winter’s on the way. If you’re lucky enough to own a vacation property, it’s time to think about shutting it down for the season.

Here are a few things to have on your closing checklist:

  • Walk around the home and do a thorough inspection: Make a list of any repairs that need to be addressed now and those that can wait till spring. Check over your roof, chimney, eaves troughs, siding, and outbuildings.
  • Close the blinds or curtains: No need to entice thieves by having your property on display.
  • Shut off the water supply and drain the pipes: Pipes can freeze and burst if water is left in the lines.
  • Trim any overhanging branches: When the snow comes, these branches can become heavy and snap off, causing damage to your roof.
  • Clean the gutters: When the snow starts to melt, a clogged gutter can cause water to enter the cottage. Lots of leaves trapped in gutters can also cause problems.
  • Keep mice and other rodents out: Make sure all possible points of entry are blocked, and all food is removed from the vacation property. Hang a few strips of fly paper to trap flying pests.
  • Turn off the heat: If the vacation property is empty all winter, there’s no point paying for heat. And baseboard heaters have been the cause of many vacation home fires.
  • Turn off fireplaces: Make sure any fireplaces or wood burning stoves are cleaned out and shut down for the winter season.
  • Shut off the power source: Some people shut down all the power, while others leave it on for a security system or lighting. You also have the option of shutting off all circuit breakers except those for your alarm system, or you can still turn off the power to your major appliances, such as your water heater. If shutting off the fridge and freezer, leave the doors ajar to keep your appliance smelling fresh.
  • Secure your dock to the shore for the winter: Make sure any boating and recreational water equipment is safely stored out of the water.
  • Unplug electronics: Items like televisions and telephones can be severely damaged in the event of a lightening strike.
  • Make sure the doors are locked: Double check that doors and windows are locked up tight, particularly if your vacation property is in a remote location.
  • Make sure all outdoor furniture is secure: Ensure grills and other accessories have been safely stored away, and that all sheds, storage areas, and outbuildings are locked securely.
  • Secure high value items: Take any valuables home or consider installing a security system you can arm while you are away for the winter.
  • Contact your neighbours: Ask any neighbours who will be staying all year or who visit more frequently to check on your home periodically. Leave your contact information with the local police in case of emergency.
  • Update your mailing address: If you do receive mail at your vacation home, make sure you have a mail forwarding service in place. A pile of mail on your doorstep gives thieves a reason to target your home, as it makes it obvious you are away.

It’s also a great idea to make a separate home inventory list for your summer home. As you spend less time there it would be even more difficult to remember everything you own in the home in the worst case scenario you did experience a loss. You can also store a collection of photos digitally if making a physical list seems too tedious for you, or make a short video of the interior of the home. You can store photos or video in your email inbox or iCloud making them easily accessible, and update them on an annual basis.

These tips can be used as a checklist to help make closing your summer home a more efficient process, and also serve as a reminder for you to update your home insurance as needed. Then when you are ready to reopen your home in the spring, just go back through the checklist and do the reverse. Happy vacationing!

It’s so nice to have a little home away from home. When leaving it for the winter, make sure you’ve taken all the steps necessary to protect it, including talking to your insurance agent. You should be reviewing your vacation property insurance at least once a year, to make sure you have the coverage you need. Some insurance providers offer more limited coverage for homes that are not your primary residence so it is a good idea to ask questions and be informed so you know the specifics of your insurance policy.

Square One offers comprehensive all risks coverage for all home insurance policies, including vacation properties. You would also want to confirm with your insurance provider that all of the property you are storing in the home is covered under your policy. Some policies include coverage for things like sporting equipment, artwork or watercraft, others don’t. It’s always better to ask and be informed, so that you can purchase additional coverage if necessary. For more information on vacation properties, or to get a quote on your home insurance, contact Square One at 1.855.331.6933.

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