Your cottage may be a seasonal retreat, but it's important you keep up with its maintenance year-round.
Whether you use your cottage as a cozy winter getaway or you prefer to wait until the spring and summer months to visit, there is a certain amount of maintenance you’ll need to do to get it ready for your stay.
Having a checklist of the most important chores to tackle can make opening your cottage for the season less stressful.
Before You Go
Get a head start on these items at least two weeks before you plan to open your cottage:
We've been enjoying the cottage life since we were kids – but to make sure the cottage experience is fun and safe, here are some handy tips to keep you safe and secure. – HGTV Canada's Bryan Baeumler
- Call and have utility services turned on. These include electricity, water, gas, phone service, internet and cable. Make sure someone is there to ensure there are no leaks, and that all the pilot lights are lit.
- Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date. For seasonal homes, you should have insurance to cover the property itself, your personal belongings and third-party claims in case someone gets hurt while they’re visiting your cottage.
- Call a friend or neighbour you know locally to have them inspect the property (and the road) for any damage. If your cottage is in a more remote area, or you don’t know someone in the area who could do this for you, you may want to consider hiring a professional property manager to keep an eye on things while you’re away.
- If there’s a serious issue, such as structural damage caused by wind or falling trees, call your insurer. Ask the person who’s checking on the cottage if they can take photos to document the damage.
- Organize and pack essential cleaning supplies, tools, furniture, food, outdoor items, pots and pans, utensils, clothing and any other personal items you plan to take. If you’re going up before spring is underway, you may also want to pack flashlights, extra batteries, candles, blankets, matches and extra non-perishable foods in case a late winter storm knocks out the power temporarily.
- Check for any road closures along the route you’ll be travelling. If you’re worried about the weather affecting road conditions, consider keeping your winter snow tires on until you’ve gotten to the cottage or had a chance to gauge the local conditions.
- Organize key documents and information you may need while you’re away. These include copies of your insurance policies and operators’ licences for the property, boats, ATVs or other vehicles stored at the cottage; any instruction manuals you might need; and a list of important phone numbers.
- Provide your contact and emergency information. If you have someone watching your primary home while you’re at the cottage, make sure you leave them with your essential contact details.
Once You Arrive
You’ll want to tackle these tasks upon arrival to make sure your cottage is ready for the season:
- Check the roof for missing shingles, the windows for cracks, the window frames and door casings for signs of swelling; and look for signs of damage to the deck
- Clean the gutters if they’re clogged with leaves or other debris
- Inspect your exterior property for signs of storm damage, including downed trees
- If your cottage has a waterfront dock, check it for signs of damage, including broken or rotting boards
- Flush out the water and gas lines, and test all utilities to make sure they’re working properly
- Refill your fire extinguishers and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; replace the batteries in your detectors if necessary
- If your cottage has central heat and air, replace the filters and consider getting the system professionally cleaned and serviced before switching it on
- If your cottage has a fireplace, have it professionally cleaned and inspected; check the fuel levels on gas-burning fireplaces and get a fresh supply of firewood for wood-burning units
- Look for damage from insects or rodents; check ceilings for leaks, walls for cracks and the flooring for any signs of heave caused by cold weather
Once you’ve crossed all these things off, you can move on to the last step: relaxing and enjoying your cottage!
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.