Tips for Maintaining a Second Home from Afar
Purchasing a second home can be a great investment – you can turn it into a rental for passive income, use it for family vacations, and so much more!
But there are a lot of things to consider before you take the plunge, like how much maintenance it will require.
In addition to the obvious challenge of maintaining a second home from afar, you may need to address other issues like frozen pipes, landscaping, snow removal, and much, much more.
Below, we look at some of the more common maintenance issues of secondary homes and then highlight tools and services that can be used to make the process easier.
Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Look for a “Low-Maintenance” Second Home
When it comes to secondary home maintenance, not all properties require the same amount of care.
When shopping for a second home, it can often be smart to look for something that’s lower maintenance and doesn’t come with costly issues – especially if you plan on doing the work yourself!
Here are some common problems areas to look out for:
- HVAC systems – How old is it? Has it been consistently maintained?
- Furnace – Is it running efficiently? How often have the filters been replaced?
- Water heater – Does the water temperature fluctuate? Are there any leaks?
- Plumbing – How old is the plumbing system?
- Water-based appliances – Are they running efficiently? Do any need to be replaced?
- Chimney – Has it been inspected recently?
- CO & smoke detectors – When was the alarm last replaced? Are the batteries new?
- Insulation – Does the home have good quality insulation, including in the attic and basement?
Tip #2: Consider Seasonal Home Maintenance
Something else you should consider is seasonal home maintenance!
Depending on where your second home is located, you could be dealing with cold and snowy winters, hot summers, or stormy falls.
This has a pretty big impact on the kinds of maintenance you’ll need to consider – for example, you may need to have some work done intermittently when you aren’t there, such as winterizing your home, checking your furnace and water heater, closing your pool, cleaning your gutters, and more.
And while some of these tasks might be aesthetic, others can help prevent damage to your home.
We’ve created several guides to help you plan your seasonal maintenance. Here are some great ones to check out:
- How to Prepare Your Winter Vacation Rental for Guests
- A Quick Guide on How to Winterize Your Home
- How to Get Your Home Ready for Spring in 10 Easy Steps
- How to Prepare Your Home and Family for Hurricane Season
- The Ultimate Summer Home Maintenance Checklist
- The Complete Guide to Closing Your Pool for the Summer
- Fall Home Maintenance: How to Prepare Your House for the Winter
Tip #3: Invest In a Smart Security System
Whether you visit your second home once a month or once a year, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep it safe when you aren’t physically there.
One of the most important ones? Investing in a modern smart home security system.
Not only are security systems one of the best deterrents for thieves, but they can also alert the authorities in the event of other emergencies – like when a fire alarm goes off.
But with so many security products on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start!
Should you install a surveillance system, a smart home monitoring system, or will something more simple do?
The answer: it depends on your home, budget, and security needs.
Some homeowners choose professionally monitored security systems while others prefer a more DIY approach, installing smart security systems with real-time video that can be monitored from a laptop or smartphone.
Before you start shopping for a new security system, you should answer a few questions to get a better sense of what you need:
- What are you protecting?
- How do you want to install it?
- How big is your home?
- What is your budget?
- What security features do you need?
Of course, a “safe” home isn’t just one that’s free from vandalism and burglaries.
Home security is just as much about protecting your home from internal dangers – things like fire, carbon monoxide, and water damage – as external ones.
Luckily, this is another area where smart technology can help.
Take Notion, for example. You can install our sensors throughout your home to get immediate alerts about water leaks and spills, temperature changes, opening doors and windows, triggered fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and more.
As a result, you can respond to potential emergencies faster, even when you aren’t actually there.
IoT technology also helps homeowners become more proactive by dealing with problems before they become costly disasters.
Rather than simply reacting to a flooded basement in the aftermath, by installing Notion Sensors on piping near your water heater, you can detect leaks before they occur or before they cause any damage.
So our recommendation? "Smartify" your home by investing in the tools you need to keep your home and possessions safe!
Tip #4: Rely on Your Homeowner’s Association
Buying a second home within a well-managed homeowners association (HOA) could save you a lot of time and energy as far as maintenance goes.
Depending on the community, your HOA may offer “complete” maintenance of the property, both internally and externally, or they might just oversee and manage common areas.
It’s a good idea to look at what’s included and not included and how this will affect your maintenance costs. Will you have to pay for snow removal, for example? What about internal repairs? Which ones are you responsible for?
Keep in mind also that most HOAs require homeowners to pay a monthly maintenance charge, which varies depending on what’s offered by the association.
Tip #5: Hire a Property Management Company or Maintenance Contractor
Another great option is to hire a maintenance contractor or a property management company to look after your second home.
Although not inexpensive – costs can run from $1,500 to $15,000+ per year – it’s another hands-free solution that minimizes the amount of maintenance work you personally have to put into your second home.
Contractors and property managers can handle everything from cleaning and maintenance to storm preparation, yard work, routine repairs, and more.
So how do you go about hiring a property management company?
Well, most companies operate in certain cities and regions, so depending on where your second home is located, you may have dozens of companies to choose from.
A few things to consider:
- What services do they offer?
- Do they have a competitive fee structure? What other costs are associated with their service?
- How many properties are they currently managing?
- Do they send weekly/monthly reports?
- Who handles the maintenance work?
- How long is the management agreement for?
And that’s it! We hope this sheds some much-needed light on how to maintain a second home from afar!