10 Things To Do Before You Rent Out Your Gite
If you are the owner of a holiday home, or gite as they’re called here in France, this is the time of the year you start preparing for this year’s guests. With the creation of websites like AirBnB, Bookit and Trip Advisor marketing your holiday home, the competition is tough and your property has to deliver on a number of points.
Depending on where your holiday home is located and the severity of your winters, the opening up of your home will require different jobs and procedures. Here in Burgundy the temperature can sometimes get as low as -20, so if your home has been shut up for the winter and the pipes drained, you will first have to deal with this.
1. Water :
If you have turned off your water over the winter months and drained the pipes correctly, you should have no problem getting your water flowing again. Turn on the main stop cock slowly, just in case you have not drained pipes correctly as you might have a leak. It’s a good idea to do this before you have guest arriving, just in case you have a problem ad need to get a plumber. If all is well, go around the house turning off all open taps. Don’t forget any outside taps. I also like to check the hoses to washing machines and dishwasher to make sure there are no leaks.
2. Drains and Septic Tank:
After turning on the water, I like to add baking soda and vinegar to sink, shower and bath drains and then add some hot water. This freshens and cleans the pipes that have been unused for a few months. I always take the drain cover off of the shower drain and give it a good clean out.L You will be surprised how dirty these get! If you live in an area where you rely on a septic tank, keeping the bacteria working properly is essential for breaking down the sewage. You can buy products from local grocery or hardware stores that you use weekly monthly or once ever six months. I like to use a package of yeast and sugar if I run out of these. Also check the last time your septic tank was emptied , not something you want to do in the height of the summer when you have friends or guests staying.
3. Unwelcome Guests:
Some of our furry friends like to come inside over the winter months. These none paying guests can cause damage and leave a mess. If you have laid traps, make sure they are disposed of properly. I have used peppermint oil with some success in order to keep away mice, and at least the house smells nice. Also make sure you have left no food in cupboards. I had a bar of soap one year that they consumed – I like to think it killed them! If you can find out where they are entering the house, fill any holes. Also if you have a friendly neighborhood cat, invite him in, as mice can smell cats and will hopefully move to another house or barn.
During a stay at a local gite one winter, I was using the bathroom, when I looked up and saw the tail of a mouse hanging through the small air vent in the ceiling. He was chewing his way through it ! I left quickly, and closed the door behind me. In less than a minute he had chewed through the plastic, fallen to the ground and was running around until the owner came and killed him. While muttering in French , “C’est la Campagnie” ! Not something you want a guest to experience.
Other unwelcome guests are cluster or attic flies. These can also make a mess but old fashioned sticky fly ribbon/paper left hanging over the winter months will deal with these unwanted guest. Be careful how you dispose of the fly paper as you can become covered in sticky glue. You can also purchase lights and granules, though I prefer the fly ribbons.
Cobwebs if you high ceilings and beams as I do, these are hard to get to. I purchased a heavy duty extendable paint pole and added a mop to the end. This works great for me.
Clean all windows it’s no good having a great view when your guests have to look through dirty windows. I have a window vac so this makes the job easy. You can finish with old newspapers and vinegar for that perfect shine.
5. Paint Touch Up:
Walls and doors always seem to get damaged over the season, so make sure you keep some tester pots of the paints you have used. For reference purpose you can also paint lolly sticks with the color and mark what room you used it in. It’s a good way to remember without storing old tins of dried paint. Sometimes just a wipe with a damp cloth with sugar soap will remove some scuff marks.
6. Bed Linen:
Spring is the time to check all your bed linen and towels for wear and tear. Throw away that look past their prime or you can use them for rags. Pillows and duvets should be cleaned or replaced. I like using pillow and mattress protectors, as these are easily washed. Make sure you have a few complete sets for each bed and mark them according to size. This will help you when you have a changeover days. You can’t go wrong with just plain white fitted sheets,as these will go with anything. Always make an inventory at the start of the season of all linen and towels.
More on cleaning and taking care of linen in a follow up post.
7. Heating and Chimney:
Check that the heating is working as there are still a few cold days and chilly evenings. If you have a wood burner, make sure your wood pile has season wood available to your guests. Please make sure your chimney is swept twice a year. You will be surprised at how many chimney fires there are, and most won’t be covered by insurance if you don’t have proof you have had the chimney cleaned by a professional. It’s such a small price to pay, knowing your house and its occupants are safe. Here in France it is now a law that you have a smoke alarm fitted so check it has fresh batteries and it’s working. I also have a carbon monoxide detector.
8. Kitchen and Oven:
Make sure you throw out chipped an damaged china and glassware. I quite like mismatched china. This can look very charming in the right home. Again you can’t go wrong with just plain white. I like to wash out all cupboards and drawers. You never know what’s been using them as a home over the winter! Check your oven is working,and if it needs cleaning, I those service that come to your home and deep clean the oven, so that they look like new. Clean and defrost the refrigerator if you left on over the winter. I always make sure I have a fresh, opened box of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors. If you use a gas bottles, make sure they are full and you have a spare one.
9. Garden and Outdoor spaces.
While it might still not be warm enough to lay in the sun, make sure all outside garden furniture is clean and any repairs to table, chairs and sun loungers are undertaken. It seems every ye qr my sun umbrella has to be replaced due to a gust of wind taking it over the garden wall.
Swimming pools will now need refilling, and some maintenance work on pumps will probable be needed. Do this as soon as the weather permits. Guests don’t want to see a half filled, green water pool with loads on pond life when they were expecting what they saw in your promotional photos.
Mow lawns and weed flower beds, this can be a big job, and if you pay for a gardener, make sure you give him:her details of what you expect.
10. House Insurance:
Make sure this is up to date and you have full cover for a holiday home let. Some insurance companies do not cover frozen pipes and damage due to them. So take extra care draining you pipes at the end of the season.
You want your guests to enjoy their holiday in your home and give you a good review. So a little hard work at the beginning of the season will help keep your investment in tip top condition, and a regular maintenance schedule throughout the season will keep your property fully booked.