Your House While You’re Away

My husband and I were on the road again this month, this time, to Seattle for a conference. Cross-country travel with not only a toddler, but two grandparents in tow. Brave or crazy? Maybe a little of both:).

Since buying our house about a year ago, I have been reminded what a big job house management is. From regular maintenance like cleaning gutters, changing HVAC filters, and checking fire alarms to big projects like replacing dishwashers, cleaning your fireplace, and waterproofing your basement, there’s just always something to do, fix, or attend to. While I love our home, sometimes I do miss calling the landlord when something breaks!

House care also includes making sure to leave your home in good shape when you head out of town. Instead of rushing to remember these items as I’m heading out the door, I like to keep a quick list we can run down to ensure the house is ready to be on its own for a few days. Depending on how long you will be gone, the season, and your particular house, this list can be different and much longer, but these are the main items I try to take care of:

  • take out all trash, recycling and compost.
  • run the dishwasher and clean all the dishes in the sink.
  • double check that we haven’t left any wet clothes in the washing machine.
  • water plants, and arrange for grass and flowers outside to be watered in the summer.
  • give neighbors, family members, and co-workers any perishables that won’t last until we return.
  • without turning off the system, adjust the thermostat to avoid wasting energy while we’re away.
  • check all windows and doors.
  • unplug delicate electronics like computers in case of a power surge.
  • turn off the main water supply in case of a leak (I usually reserve this for longer vacations).
  • let a neighbor know we’ll be out of town (or if you’re my husband, yell it across the yard so any lurking robbers can take note of exactly when we will be gone;).
  • arrange for someone to care for our lawn and mail if we will be gone for longer than a week.
  • give a friend or neighbor a key to the house in case there is an emergency and they need to get inside while we’re gone.
  • leave a light or two on. If you have a timer for your lights even better, but I like to leave at least one outside and one inside light on, with a strong preference for a light with a compact fluorescent bulb, as it uses so much less energy.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Please share!

No matter what your list includes, have it ready before you go. Create it during a time when you’re not traveling and add to it as you think of new things, so it’s ready to go when you’re preparing to leave. Set it up as a Google Doc, or some other means of sharing and collaborating, so other family members can access, review, and contribute to it.

Soon I will be sharing a list with you that you can use to keep track of regular house maintenance items.

Happy Travels!
xo, Erin