The Essential Cottage Opening Weekend Checklist

The Essential Cottage Opening Weekend Checklist

Posted by on May 31, 2021 in Insurance Advice

Before you head to the cottage in the spring, there is a lot planning to be done. You want to ensure you take care of everything so you can spend more time relaxing and less time fussing. Although it is a big job opening the cottage every spring, it is well worth the effort for all the joy and memories it brings. Here, we look at your essential cottage opening weekend checklist to make sure you can settle in without any worries.

Before You Go

About a week out from your first trip to the cottage, do the following:

  • Make some calls: Before you do anything, make some calls to have your utilities turned on. You don’t want to arrive only to find you can’t switch on the light in the pitch black of cottage country. The calls should be made at least a few days in advance to make sure you don’t wind up waiting. Remember, you and every other cottage owner in the area is making the same call!
  • Cottage insurance: Check to make sure everything is in order with your insurance for your cottage and any recreational vehicles and boats you use up there.
  • Put together a cleaning kit: If you don’t store cleaning items at the cottage, do some shopping to collect all the things you’ll need.
  • Find your keys: Nothing is worse than making the long drive to the cottage only to find that you forgot the keys. Put them in your glove compartment so you have them with you when you leave. If you tend to have a bad memory, place a post-it note on the glove compartment to remind you that’s where you put them!
  • Forgettable essentials: Make a little checklist of the things people commonly forget so you can check them off as you pack, including:
    • Batteries and chargers
    • Cell phone booster
    • Water
    • Emergency kit
    • Matches
    • Bug spray
    • Toilet paper

When You Arrive

When you arrive, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of opening, including:

  • Property walk around: You know all too well that a cottage can undergo some rough weather through the winter. Your inspection begins with a walk around your property checking for signs of damage to not only the cottage, but any other structures and things such as power lines and trees. If you notice issues with power lines, keep people in the car and call your utility company to come and check the problem so you don’t risk electrocution. Note any other maintenance issues on your phone or a pad of paper to create your exterior maintenance checklist.
  • Exterior inspection: Next, take a look at the cottage itself and look for:
    • Signs of roof deterioration such as damaged or missing tiles, sagging, moss growth, weather damage, etc.
    • Inspect your foundation to look for wear and tear, as this is also a sign that something is off with your roofing system such as your gutters.
    • Check your windows, walls, and doors to look for issues.
    • Many cottages are old and have plenty of wood including the trim, porch, parts of the roof, window frames, etc. Look for signs of rot, peeling paint, or possible pests. Anything you notice, add to your list.
    • Check all your exterior structures such as your stairs, deck, pathways, and dock to look for damage. Things like your stairs and dock can be dangerous to walk on if there is wood rot, so be careful when you first step onto these areas. If they feel unstable, keep family, pets, and guests away until you can have them fixed. Add them to your list.
  • Water: Check your water system and replace any filters. Inspect your pipes to look for possible loose connections and tighten them if needed. This will avoid leaks. Signs of rust could mean corrosion, so test the pipes for leaks if you do spot rust. Turn on your hot water tank and try your hot water taps to make sure they work. You’ll need to check water flow from your tank to the faucet to look for leaks as well. Flush the lines if you used chemicals to make sure you remove anything that could contaminate your drinking water. Add any issues to your list.
  • Animal tenants: Part of the joy of cottage country is watching local wildlife. However, over the winter, your home might have become an Airbnb for local critters. Look for signs of mouse droppings or nests, as well as damage to your roof and under your porch and cottage for signs animals have moved in. Don’t forget your chimney and all your closets and kitchen cupboards. Mice might be small, but they carry disease and are notorious chewers, as are squirrels. If you suspect you have critter troubles, call in a humane animal control company to help evict them.
  • Inspect your appliances: Don’t try your appliances until you check them for damage. For example, if you do have mice or squirrels, they could have chewed and damaged the wiring, which increases risk for fire or shocks. If you have natural gas or propane at the cottage, check for leaks. Don’t forget to also inspect your barbecue.
  • Bathroom: Check your bathroom for signs of leaks in the shower, bath, sink, and toilet. Look at the perimeters of the tub and corners of shower stalls to see if they need a new line of caulking to prevent leaks.
  • Replace batteries: If you have anything with batteries such as remotes, or more importantly, fire and carbon monoxide alarms, then replace the batteries.
  • Clean: Do your once-over thorough cleaning so everything is in good order to settle in.
  • Fireplace/woodstove: Do a thorough check of your fireplace or woodstove before you use it. You might consider hiring a chimney maintenance person to have everything checked to make sure it is safe.
  • Tackle your to-do list: Review the list of issues you found, and decide what you can do yourself and what might require a professional service. Prioritize the list, and make any calls to arrange for repairs and service as soon as possible.
  • Clear the eavestroughs: Last but not least, plan to clear your eavestroughs at some point before you leave.

Next Steps

This checklist will help you cover all the important details to prepare your cottage for your summer visits. If you would like information on Ottawa cottage insurance, RV insurance, AV insurance, or watercraft insurance, speak to our team at Oegema, Nicholson today.

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