You've purchased the long-awaited vacation home with hopes of retiring to it someday. Life is good! Your plan is to use your home at least every couple of months to not only justify your purchase and have a mini vacation, but to also make sure everything is okay at your out-of-state home.
You've planned on going to visit your home, but something comes up and you have to postpone your trip. No problem. There is next time. Perhaps at first you do get down to your home every other month for the first year. But the packing, the trip, the unpacking.....a week or two in your home in paradise.....and then you have to do it all again in reverse. As time goes on, your trips get farther apart. Your home is vacant longer and longer.
This is one of the most common things that happen. There are folks who buy a vacation home knowing they will only visit it once or twice a year. Whether your home is in California, Florida or Timbuktu, every region has problems that affects homes. Having a regular visit by a home watch professional is insurance against things getting totally out of hand.
Many owners contact a home watch company while they are still in escrow. They already know that they want their home looked after by an experienced person. If you own a vacation home and don't feel this way, I invite you to read on.
I will use Florida as an example as that is what I am familiar with, but each region has its own unique set of reasons to have your home inspected. Whether it be snow load, freezing pipes or rivers that tend to flood their banks, or humid climates where mold and mildew love to grow, having someone inspect your home on a regular basis is the best way to make sure a small problem doesn't become a big, costly one.
Here in Florida, I've had owners call me to let me know that they are leaving and that 'All is well. You can stop by in a week like you usually do.' I love my clients, but I always go to their home after they leave because things aren't always well. I've had owners leave a load of wet wash in the washer, having forgotten to put them in the dryer. I've had owners leave wet bathing suits on the closet floor. I've had owners forget to lock their doors!
Here in Florida, a load of wet clothes in a washer or a wet suit or towel in a closet is a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew growth. I actually visited a friend whose daughter had left a wet bathing suit on the carpeted floor of a closet and when my friend arrived a month later and called me to come and tell me what the heck was wrong with her walls...I had the unpleasant task of telling her it was mold. It was a walk in closet and the floor, walls and ceiling were horribly green and its tentacles were beginning to wrap around the walls in the bedroom. It was horrible. It was unhealthy. It was tremendously expensive to get rid of and repair.
There is a 'famous' (for Florida at least) story about a homeowner that didn't put the hard door over his doggy door when he left. One of our big Muscovy ducks somehow found their way into the home through the doggy door. This homeowner didn't have a home watch company, so it is unknown how long the duck was in the home before he died, but it was long enough to make a very big mess. Not to mention the duck didn't die an easy death. And the smell!
A home watch company would have found the duck, hopefully before it died, and had the mess cleaned up before the homeowner came back for a visit. I'm thinking this person's home still smells bad.
What if a pipe breaks? Or a flex line comes apart? What if that happens and your condo is on the 5th floor? I'll bet you wouldn't enjoy paying for all new walls and ceilings in the unit below you because of water damage from your unit.
Here's a story I heard second hand.....a washing machine water line split. Water started pouring out. This was in a condo on the 8th floor of a high-rise. It was off-season, so it wasn't noticed until a home watch person checking out a unit on the 3rd floor walked in to a flooded unit. You can just imagine how badly damaged the units between the 8th floor and the 3rd floor were. These were luxury units, so the repairs were not cheap.
If that condo owner had had a home watch person, the problem would have been discovered so much earlier. If you have a home watch inspection every week, then you know that even if a pipe breaks, or the air conditioning malfunctions, or your home becomes over run with bugs or other pests, it will be discovered within a week.
Lately here in Florida, we have had an awful problem with unsavory people stealing the copper from air conditioning units and some times the whole unit.
Also, if people realize you are not full-time residents, you are a sitting duck for a break in. Not that a home watch company can prevent that, but at least you will know sooner rather than later. How awful it would be eek out a couple of weeks to come and vacation at your home, only to find it cleaned out when you got there. Or severely damaged by a roof leak or pipe break. Or mold and mildew from an air conditioning unit that was stolen or just went kaput.
Home watch companies do not charge an arm and a leg. Visits usually run from $20 for a condo to $25 for a large home. While I encourage homeowners to have weekly visits, they shouldn't have visits less often than twice a month. Look at it this way...how long do you want a problem to be unattended? Think time = money in repairs. For the small amount of money for regular visits by an experienced and professional home watch professional, you get BIG peace of mind.
And aren't you worth it?