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A Summer Home’s Readiness // Preparedness and Pre-Arrivals

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Maintaining the highest integrity and investment of the many homes we are managing is our greatest success-

If you’re a little like me and many of my private service colleagues, this may be your favorite part of the job; the annual relocation to your principal’s summer home. And of course, that’s somewhere special, perhaps recognized as one of the most beautiful places on earth. We are fortunate to have careers that consist of extensive domestic and international travel, to some of the best places on earth. While that may be true, that summer relocation also comes with some significant challenges. Let me share my thoughts and give you an example of some challenges I have experienced along with a few Apps and  checklists on how I prepare for success.

Mother Nature: “Father Winter and Hurricane Season”

Many of my greatest challenges are natural and disaster preparedness all year due to the geographic location of the summer home and other properties I have been responsible for.  For example, that summer home may be in a mountainous region with heavy winter conditions that pose a 6-plus month threat of potential disaster. I know you know what I’m talking about. And while you’re away for the summer and working in the beautiful mountains, you may be monitoring your primary home on the Eastern seaboard during hurricane season. That said, natural and disaster preparedness are often a year-round challenge for me and many Estate and House Managers.

Weather Apps:

 

Flight Apps:

  • Planes Live: https://apps.apple.com/vg/app/planes-live-flight-radar/id1097815000
  • Flight Aware: https://flightaware.com

 

Effective Preventative Maintenance and Management: 

My Management Style: 

  • A Human Connection with Honesty, Integrity, and Truth. Respect and Trust
  • Clarity on Set Expectations and Goals. Positive. Motivate. Coach. Educate. Elevate
  • Weekly, Monthly, Bi-Monthly, Quarterly, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Checklists and Pre-Arrivals
  • “Hands On”, Clear Direction and Mutually Agreeable Resolutions to Potential Risk Factors.
  • Observe & evaluate. Feedback. More Feedback. Success. “Reward”

 

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you would agree, “maintaining the integrity, and investment of your principals’ properties are but a few of your greatest achievements.” 

Geography & Logistics: 

How we coordinate and collaborate with our domestic and international staff and service providers are everything. Coordination of our contracted services, services providers and other full-time, year-round staff are important. The keys to my professional success have been year-round, built-in policies and procedures (with flexibility). This is how one keeps up with the year-round integrity of a home’s investment, family, and incoming guest readiness

While we are away, in preparation for that integrity, investment, family and guest readiness, my estate managing colleagues and I have been fortunate to have the most professional and reliable fully staffed and or contracted service providers on our team. Those, whom we can always count on to inspect the primary homes and destination properties methodically, and regularly with an attention to detail and effective prevention maintenance. Those difficult areas like “crawl spaces, drain fields and roofs.” 

Together we have decades of extensive experience in recognizing risk factors and even detect problems early when remedies are inexpensive. Like storm damage, leaky roofs, clogged gutter downspouts, excessive humidity or mold inside, rodent infestation, unlocked doors, and windows. Especially during the colder months, and hurricane season where a property may be non-accessible for quite some time.  

Staying in constant contact with your team and those service providers are the keys to our greatest success as estate and house managers. That said, let me share with you an example of my Summer Homes Pre-Arrival Check lists. Followed by my Pre-Departure Checklist. Feel free to give me some feedback, and share some of your policies and procedures.

PRE-Pre-Arrival:

    • Vendors and Contractors: Contact vendors to service the home: windows cleaned inside/out, appliances, generator, landscaper/property manager, housekeeper, wildlife pest control, hot tub, steam & sauna, fireplace company. Heating and AC to service boilers and ac units, pressure washing company for garage, driveway, and decks. Audio-Video. WIFI/IT & Security. Vet.
    • Provision Lists: Household, family, Extended family, friends and guest ready provision and check lists are complete
  • Fleet: contact auto transport and start the relocation process for your summer fleet. 
  • Concierge Service “Set up a nice concierge service for your principals while your away”

 

Summer Home’s Pre-Arrival Begins

  • Greet household and seasonal staff. Collaborate on the events for the season, incoming and outgoing guests, projects, etc.
  • Interior-exterior walk through, gate and security camera check. Landscape lighting. Punch list
  • Wildlife and pest control observation begins
  • Arrange to meet with landscapers, and gardeners
  • Meetings have been set for all other vendors and service providers (live and virtual.)

 

Household Supplies and Provision Check:

  • Light Bulb and battery inventories
  • Laundry and cleaning supplies as needed
  • Pantry & all dry food storage
  • Guest cottages
  • Beverage coolers
  • Wine and spirits
  • Bar supplies and water: restock as needed. 

 

Technology, Office, and Electronics check:

  • Replace batteries in remote controls in living and master in winter and summer. Replace others on a need be basis, but should be checked they are working and rust free before summer arrival
  • WiFi, iPads, and office equipment
  • Sonos 
  • Keyless entries
  • Garage door openers
  • Key fobs and remotes
  • Check II televisions are working correctly
  • Check all telephones are working correctly, clear out caller ID

 

Plumbing and Appliances – Kitchen and Pantry

  • Change Filter on water heater, turn up boiler to indicated setting
  • Turn heat up to 70 degrees in the winter and summer months, and all thermostats are set to heat for winter and cool for summer.
  • Run all showers, flush toilets, etc.
  • Check all lights are working inside and out, replace any bulbs as needed (check inventory)
  • Check pantry and fridge go through and discard any expired items
  • Clean out fridges, replace baking soda in main kitchen fridge and garage fridge
  • Turn on all ice makers and recheck to make sure they are making ice correctly (no mold)
  • Run all appliances, ovens, other
  • Complete dry food storage
  • Fresh food provisioning just prior to family arrival

 

Interior-Exterior – Patio & Deck – Garage

  • Check all fireplaces
  • Windows, doors, fixtures, screens
  • Check all misters and exterior fans
  • Clean off Patio Furniture (summer)
  • Make sure saunas and steam rooms are operating
  • Sweep out garage
  • Sweep off decks
  • Wash out trash cans
  • Make sure all trash cans have bags in them

 

Room to Room: Bed and Bath:

  • Make sure all beds are made and ready for use
  • Run all overhead fans and make sure they are operational and free of vibration
  • Turn on all faucets, showers and flush all toilets, make any repairs or extra cleaning that need done
  • check all clocks are set properly
  • Restock laundry and cleaning supplies as needed
  • Replace all air fresheners
  • Check and-fill all bathrooms for toilet tissue and facial tissues
  • Check and fill all hand soap dispensers
  • Make sure there are plenty of towels and that towels are clean and folded correct

 

Pet Supplies:

  • Stock up on dog food, check with principal for food needed
  • Clean all dog beds
  • Provision first aid kit 
  • Set up grooming
  • Set up Vet appointment
  • Check in with dog walker, pet sitter
  • Check in with meet-up hiking group

 

Pre-Departure Checklist – Shutting down the house for winter and summer

  • A property management company will oversee the home when the principals are not in residence, the shutdown of the house is minimal
  • Winterize the hot tub and all exterior faucets, etc.
  • Service all the major kitchen appliances
  • Contact Heating and A/C to service the heating and air conditioning units
  • Contact Plumber with any issues
  • Change filter on water heater
  • Check with landscapers to discuss and have annuals removed and dead plants/flowers, arbor care, etc.
  • Turn off all gas fireplaces and make sure flues are closed
  • Remove all air freshener plugs
  • Unplug accessible lamps and clocks
  • Turn heat on and temp down to 58 degrees
  • Turn boilers down to minimum setting
  • Take down umbrella, put cushions away in either garage or downstairs closet
  • Tum off all gas fireplaces
  • Empty pantry, look for foods that will expire before return
  • Empty Fridge, look for foods that will expire before return
  • Clean and empty coffee maker
  • Check dishwasher and garbage are empty, clean out garbage

 

R’You Being Served

Joanie Veage

Kimberly Varney

Cross-Training Household Staff

Cross-training among staff members is a great way to get everyone on the same page and to build consistency with service delivery. The experience provides an opportunity for employees to grow professionally while expanding their skill sets and strengthening their bond with the team. 

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