September 26, 2022

Description of Job
• Watch over a summer or vacation home when the owner is not there.
• Supervise maintenance, including lawn mowing, snow removal, winterizing.
• Check for storm damage and represent the homeowner in any emergency
• Prepare the home for the arrival of the owner.
The Need
The wonderful thing about owning a vacation home at the beach, by the lake, or
near a ski resort is the warm spot it occupies in your mind even when you are
many miles away.
The difficult thing about owning a vacation home is the load of worries that
will afflict you because you are not there to attend to them. Vacation property is
often very expensive, and homes are often in isolated locations or in areas where
there are few if any year-round residents.
Homes are subject to break-ins, vandalism, storm damage, and power outages (which could cut off heating in the winter).
The job of the caretaker is to be the owner’s representative and watchdog.
This job does not include overseeing the rental of vacation property, which is
a much more complex operation usually undertaken by management companies
that handle advertising, booking, billing, maintenance, cleaning, postrental
inspections, and other functions.
The job includes making regular visits to the home to check for unexpected
incidents, including storm damage and problems with heating systems.
The owner may ask you to supervise scheduled maintenance of the house,
including servicing of the furnace, air conditioner, electrical, and plumbing systems. You may also be asked to act as the owner’s representative in overseeing
painting, remodeling, or expansion of the home, reporting on progress and problems. (Some caretakers send digital photographs over the Internet to their clients.)
You’ll be responsible for lawn mowing and snow removal, either as tasks you
perform yourself or hire others to do.

Finally, a caretaker may be asked to prepare the house before the season
begins, which may include a thorough cleaning.
A competent caretaker accepts responsibility for the house as if it were his or her
own. The caretaker will have possession of keys to the property, which must be
safeguarded from loss or theft.
You must demonstrate dependability; if you will be unable to personally
supervise the homes of your clients for any extended period of time, you will
need to have a trustworthy substitute fill in for you. If you are contracted to oversee a property on Cape Cod, you can’t spend the winter on the beach in Florida
without making arrangements that satisfy the needs of your client.
It is also very important that you have a good relationship with your clients,
a strong understanding of their needs, and an explicit contract that spells out your
responsibilities and the authority granted to you by the owner. If a pipe freezes in
the winter, you should be able to hire a plumber and a cleanup crew without having to wait to speak with your client.
Your client or you should notify neighbors that you will be acting as caretaker for the property so that they do not mistake you for an unauthorized visitor.
Leave your card with the neighbors; they may be able to serve as an extra pair of
eyes, and they may end up hiring you to watch their homes.
Know the Territory
One of the best tools of a caretaker is an up-to-date Rolodex of dependable electricians, plumbers, carpenters, landscapers, snow removal companies, and cleaning services who will respond to your call on behalf of your client.
You should have a working knowledge of home systems and repairs.
How to Get Started
Contact area electricians, plumbers, landscapers, contractors, and rental agents
to let them know of your services. Ask them to let their own clients know about
you; in return, you can promise to engage them for any necessary work.
Place ads on community bulletin boards, in stores, and in newspapers. Ask
friends and acquaintances to spread the word about your availability.
Up-front Expenses
Expenses are principally for advertising and promotion. Any travel and services
provided are billed to your client.

How Much to Charge
Most caretakers charge a fixed rate for devoting a minimum number of hours
each month to scheduled visits to the home, inspections, and supervision of
scheduled services such as landscaping. Additional charges are levied (by the
hour) for supervising emergency repairs, renovations, and construction.
The contract with the client should include payment of a month or two in
advance as a retainer, with regular monthly billing.
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: Discuss with your attorney any prior legal problems you may
have encountered and seek advice about whether they need to be disclosed to

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