August is a magical month. Lawyers take time off like it’s a status symbol, the Pacific Northwest becomes a desert — and you start thinking about what you want to do next year. 

If your plans revolve around a second home, they probably include some hurried trips to Target and, ultimately, settling for a less-than-perfect shuttering of the second home for the winter. That’s why I came up with this list of Must-Do’s — and you can work the list of Should-Do’s safe in the knowledge that the essentials are taken care of. 

  • Hunt all Water: Despite what our personal trainers tell us, water can be very bad. To pipes, sheetrock, etc. Be sure to turn all the water off in the house and bleed the lines dry of any that is remaining. Don’t forget dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Make the Place Look Occupied: This involves multiple lamps on multiple timers, making sure mail delivery has stopped, and getting the snow plowed in winter. If you’re lucky enough to have a local person you trust, see if you can get them to help make the place look lived-in.
  • Security: We’ve written before about security systems for second homes. Having a video feed from your vacation home helps calm anxieties about your distant asset, and it totally doesn’t call you like a siren while you’re at work. Many sources recommend informing the police in your second home’s town that you will be away — but I would think twice about that “in a small town.”
  • Ambient Heat & Airflow: Conventional wisdom says to set the heat to 55 degrees before you leave. What people forget is all the dead space in cabinets and closets, ovens and dishwashers, etc. Basically, anything that can close should be opened. This is important because pipes often run adjacent to cabinets by design. Also, don’t forget the smoke alarms.
  • Insurance: To really protect yourself, consider meeting with an insurance broker (not agent) to discuss add-ons to your homeowner’s policy that may alleviate some of your fears.

Second homes are JHA’s specialty. Whether you need a little help or a total takeover, we bring the right tools and experience to every project. Contact us to learn more.