As you are not present at your holiday home every day, you should have a good maintenance program in place to keep the property good order. This will not only keep running costs down (as insurance claims caused by a lack of general maintenance would not be covered under a holiday home insurance contract), it will also keep the property in good order therefore being more attractive to prospective holiday makers if you rent your property.
Good general upkeep and consideration of risk will help keep your property safe and secure during the off season when you are less likely to visit the property or rent it out.
Below are some general tips for maintenance for your holiday home which should help you think about risk factors at your own property.
Gutters and drains
If left blocked, water overflowing can damage your property or a neighbour's property with the most common result of damp issues on walls; however drains can cause more serious damage such as flooding of the home.
When a property is often unoccupied good security is an obvious maintenance and security consideration. Check doors and windows are locked when you leave the property and don't leave spare keys easily accessible. It is also good to consider items left in and around the garden which could be used by potential burglars to assist in a break-in such as bricks. It is also now advisable to not keep keys when you are at the property on a key rack/hook near the door. Mortice locks require a key to open from the inside as well as the outside so any person breaking in can, in theory, only escape via the way they entered the property (or at least can't open the door to remove large items).
Mortice deadlocks should be fitted to external doors and patio doors should have equally good security such as key operated security bolts to the top and bottom of the doors. Overseas properties very often have steel shutters to protect the home from potential burglaries as well as storms.
Check the building is water tight, so look for broken or missing tiles on the main property any outbuildings. Also fix any broken or loose tiles as failing tiles can cause damage to other parts of the roof or to other property when falling.
If paint around window frames is flaking off it should be sanded and repainted to ensure water is not able to penetrate to the wood.
Check flat roofs for their condition to ensure they will get though the winter. Check for any holes and repair if required.
For overseas property, check any decorative or functional window shutters are secured tightly. If possible, leave a telephone number with a trusted neighbour to report any issues at the property or have a letting agent fully manage the property for you.
It's advisable to get your chimney swept yearly and could be a condition of your insurance. Open fires are a risk and maintaining the chimney correctly is essential in stopping chimney fires. At the same time check your chimney is correctly covered to stop water from running down causing damp issues at the holiday home.
If you are aware that a surface can become slippery when damp, wet or covered with leaves at your holiday home you should ensure you take any action you can. It's not just your wellbeing at the property, visitors and renters will also be affected so it's something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Well lit driveways and paths reduce risk, keeping salt or gravel available and stocked is good maintenance. Arranging for leaves to be cleared in the autumn and winter is advisable, as not only does this reduce risk, it will stop and surfaces underneath from keeping damp such as wood decking which can rot leaving the surface weak.
Central heating and hot water.
Lagging pipes and checking their condition is good maintenance for your heating system at the holiday home. This will reduce the risk of pipes bursting due to frost damage. Lag cold and hot water tanks for extra protection. Also, like a boiler at home, you should get this serviced regularly to maintain it’s condition especially of your property is rented.
To maintain your home when unoccupied you should either turn off or drain down you water and heating systems in the winter months or leave the heating on at a decent continuous temperature (i.e. 24 hours). This will help stop damp and keep the pipes in your property from freezing and causing major damage.
Different conditions regarding the heating and water systems apply within holiday home insurance polices depending on where the property is located. Check when during the year they apply and the definition of 'unoccupied'.
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