Santa Barbara, CA
Our house is a place to which we always return after our travel adventures. And while we're away, it's important to protect the valuable and irreplaceable possessions that we hold dear. Whether it's a family member, a friend or a professional, a house-sitter is the ideal guardian for your home. Here are a few ways to prepare your house and your house-sitter while you're away.
The first responsibility that a house-sitter has is to make the property seem lived in. Most residential burglaries happen during the day when people are away, and the most common time of the year for illegal entry are the summer months when we are on vacation. To make the property look like someone is there all of the time, create a schedule for the house-sitter that changes throughout the week. Make sure that lights are turned on and off so that an onlooker would not be able to easily tell if the house is empty.
You can take some of the burden off of the sitter by having IP-enabled security cameras. The internet connectivity lets you monitor the property from your smartphone if the sitter is away, and they can be used to help catch and convict a criminal in the event that something does happen.
There is a balance that you will need to create when you have a sitter in your house. Lights turned on in the evening will help keep the burglars away, but having them on in the day is a costly waste of energy. Heaters in cold-weather areas need to be on to prevent freezing, but the temperature may be too low for a person living there to be comfortable. Have a discussion with your house-sitter about your “green” environment expectations so that you are not accidentally wasting a lot of energy.
In areas with extreme weather, one responsibility is to weatherproof the house. Make a list with the sitter of the responsibilities. This is especially important if the sitter will only be there during part of the time that you are away. Most importantly, make sure that your sitter knows how to turn off the main water supply in case of an emergency.
Your house-sitter also acts as your representative when you are away. Things can happen, so give them an extensive contact list for any type of emergency. Make sure that it includes the obvious numbers like both emergency and non-emergency police and fire. Also give them a list of relatives or friends that should be contacted if something out of the ordinary happens. On the list, place your property address since this can be easily forgotten in times of crisis.
Since most of your important stuff is in the care of your house-sitter, there may be times that you need to get to important documents. For instance, if you become ill while traveling and need to access healthcare information, let the sitter know where these files are and give them a sense of your organizational strategy.
Using a house-sitter means you have just let someone into your life and given them access to your passwords, documents and routine. The moment you get home, it's important to change all of that to secure your privacy. Unless you want to continue that relationship, which is common if your house-sitter is a family member, then change passwords and move documents.