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A Checklist for House Sitting: Australia Edition

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A Checklist for House Sitting: Australia Edition

Going on holiday is ironically, often fraught with stress in the lead up to departure. For many homeowners it is not as simple as shutting the door and leaving the house. People with gardens, pools and pets have to prepare well in advance to ensure everything is looked after in their absence with no unwanted surprises awaiting their return.

Dead plants, green swimming pools and the cost of pet boarding can put a real damper on holiday fun (and budgets). This is why house sitting is such a great idea and is mutually beneficial to both homeowner and house sitter.

The homeowner can rest easy while away, knowing all daily routines are being followed while the house sitter has a free place to stay.

For homeowners new to the house sitting concept, the secret is finding an effective and trusted house sitting service provider who is in the business of matching homeowner with house sitter — much like a dating site.

A family member or trusted friend who is willing to take on the responsibility while the homeowner is away are also viable options. In this early phase, many details will be discussed by email or telephone but it is what you leave in writing that is most valuable in your absence.

The homeowner can rest easy while away, knowing all daily routines are being followed while the house sitter has a free place to stay.

For homeowners using a house sitting service, the best advice is to prepare a hotel/motel style folder of information that covers everything from contact information and itineraries to daily pet and garden routines, maintenance, rubbish collection and mail delivery.

There is no question that in today’s sharing economy the concept of house sitting is growing in popularity. In an online article published in “The Telegraph,” journalist Monty Munford focusses on the successful UK business, TrustedHousesitters which was established in 2010 and now has members in 133 countries. “The company claims it has 500,000 site visits per month with more than 1,500 new house sits every month.”

In Australia, house sitting is also proving an effective way for young people saving on rent to fund their first home.

Ruth Myers, owner of Australian house sitting site, Happy House Sitters says, “We’ve got a significant number of young couples who are on our books who are saving for their first home, and we’ve got some really lovely stories of people who have written in, telling us that they’ve been able to achieve that by house sitting for a little while.”

The following is a house sitter’s checklist that will help guide the information for a house sitter to navigate each and every element of your home and garden in your absence.

Card 6a

Contact Information

Include mobile phone numbers, email addresses and a copy of the printed itinerary. In addition, leave names and contact details for neighbours or friends who can assist should a problem arise.

It is also good to leave contact information for the gardener, vet, local council (for rubbish collection), plumber, electrician and local emergency services like police, ambulance and fire.

If you live in an apartment block or gated village with body corporate, be sure to clearly communicate a list of rules be they noise curfews, overnight guests and the like.

Daily Routines

A good way to communicate what goes on at your home while you are away is by inserting a calendar or writing a daily routine. For instance: 7 a.m. — Feed the dog two scoops of dry food, refill water bowl and take for a walk for 20 minutes. Lead kept in cupboard under stairs.

If this is a daily routine, repeat at the beginning of each day and then add things like rubbish collection on the appropriate date including any recycling pick up days. You can never provide too much information. Just ensure it is consistent throughout.

House/Body Corporate Rules

If you live in an apartment block or gated village with body corporate, be sure to clearly communicate a list of rules be they noise curfews, overnight guests and the like.

If you have personal house rules, be sure to advise in person and in writing any ground rules relating to your home. For instance, no smoking. Maybe certain rooms and equipment are out of bounds.

It is always a good idea to lock any rooms you don’t want used and store valuables away to avoid any questions or confrontation on return.

Deliveries & Tradespeople

If you are expecting people to drop by during your absence, be sure to advise your house sitter and note it in the folder. If possible, provide specific details of dates and contact names and numbers.

For instance: The water cooler maintenance man will visit this week to check the filter. Call the day before to confirm and arrange a time that suits your schedule. Payment has been made in advance.

HouseSitting3

Mail Collection

Having a bursting mailbox is not a good idea as it indicates to potential criminals that you are away. It may seem obvious but never assume that a sitter will take initiative. Write it down — collect mail daily.

If you have a post office box nearby, perhaps instruct the house sitter to collect mail every couple of days and put it in a box on your desk for when you return.

Bullet point everything and be succinct in describing the exact amount of food to be dispensed, how often you want water changed and the dispensing of any medicine, tick prevention and grooming techniques or arrangements.

Pets

This has been mentioned in the daily routines, but you cannot be too detailed when instructing a sitter to look after your treasured family members.

Bullet point everything and be succinct in describing the exact amount of food to be dispensed, how often you want water changed and the dispensing of any medicine, tick prevention and grooming techniques or arrangements.

Same goes for rules. If pet dog is not allowed on the couch, be clear and include in your written folder. This is one of the best advantages of having a house sitter — knowing that your pet is comfortable at home but being looked after proactively until you return.

Make sure you explain any habits or foibles.

For instance, letting the dog out to run first thing in the morning or keeping him on a lead at all times during a walk.

Technology

Technology is enough to frustrate people to tears if they are not savvy. Think turning on the ignition button for the gas stove or working the remote control.

Instead of letting your house sitter work it out by default, explain any technological details for the television, alarm system, radio, DVD player, Netflix and Wi-Fi passwords and what you would like the sitter to do in the case of an electrical storm.

Card 6b

Local Services & Amenities

If your house sitter is not from the local area, try and find an opportunity before departure to meet and familiarise him with your neighbourhood, or at the very least, provide a good map of the area with carefully written details and pointers to the nearest supermarket, newsagent, post office, medical centre, pharmacy and restaurants that you recommend.

Leave takeaway menus, service contacts, etc. that you wish to promote.

All of this detail will enhance your house sitter’s experience.

Tell your house sitter when and where to position the bin and what day recycling comes around.

Garbage Collection

Tell your house sitter when and where to position the bin and what day recycling comes around.

Again, instruct him to return empty bins immediately.

Like the overflowing letterbox, having a bin left out on the street is a dead giveaway that no one’s home.

HouseSitting (5)

Pool & Garden Maintenance

Be succinct and detailed in describing any pool and garden maintenance. Leave details of the routine and contact numbers.

Also describe exactly where you buy pool chlorine and the like so it is as seamless as possible for your house sitter.

List any home quirks so there are no surprises. Think light switches, door locks, fans and air-conditioners.

Quirks

List any home quirks so there are no surprises. Think light switches, door locks, fans and air-conditioners.

Of course, there is always the possibility that something bad happens while you’re away — the washer floods the laundry room, a natural disaster sweeps the area, your home is broken into. Many homeowners carry home and contents insurance, and it’s particularly nice for peace of mind while you’re out of town.

Third Party

Tell a close family, friend or neighbour that you are leaving and will be using a house sitter. If you have the time and availability, introduce your house sitter or at the very least, leave details and ensure your confidants have a copy of your itinerary or plans.

 

Sources

http://www.aussiehousesitters.com.au/home-owners-checklist
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11859411/TrustedHousesitters-A-UK-sharing-economy-success-story.html
http://www.domain.com.au/news/young-australians-are-house-sitting-to-save-for-their-first-homes-20150428-1mqqct/
http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/house-sitter-tips-your-house-sitter-wants-you-to-know-174743
http://barkpost.com/the-ultimate-pet-sitter-checklist/