A step-by-step guide to opening your cottage for the summer
If you have a cottage, it’s about time to open it up and prepare for another summer of beach days and campfire nights. Check these 10 steps off your to-do list as you get ready for cottage season.
- Arrange to have your utilities turned back on or inspected. If any of your utilities, like water or gas, need to be turned on by professionals, remember to make arrangements well ahead of time so your cottage is ready when you plan to settle in for the season. You should also have your septic system inspected by a professional if it’s due for a check-up.
- Make sure your seasonal property insurance policy is up to date. Whether you’re adding some new toys to your property (like a boat or ATV, for example) or planning on renting out your cottage for the first time this year, it’s a good idea to review your seasonal property insurance policy each year (before cottage season!) and contact your group’s broker to make sure you’re properly covered, especially for third-party liability.
- Pack everything you need for a safe and successful opening weekend. From a first aid kit to bottled water, don’t forget to bring these 10 essential items with you when you head to the cottage. You’ll probably want to pack a toolkit and cleaning supplies, too. For your first visit of the season, it’s also a good idea to double-check that you have all of the keys you need so you don’t find yourself locked out when you arrive.
- Get your car ready for the drive up to the cottage. If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a road trip, take some steps to get your car in shape before you hit the road so you arrive safe and sound.
- Walk the perimeter. Before going inside your cottage, walk around the outer perimeter and look for any broken windows, damage caused by pests, downed power lines, signs of break-ins or vandalism, or anything else that looks different than how you left it last fall.
- Inspect your roof. Harsh winter weather conditions can do a number on your roof, so you should carefully inspect your roof and replace any missing shingles. If you notice that part of your roof has caved in or sustained significant damage, have it repaired by a professional and look for any water damage that may have occurred as a result.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. One of the first things you should do when you get inside your cottage is test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and replace the batteries if they’ve stopped working or if they’ve reached the expiration date recommended by the manufacturer.
- Air it out and look for mould and mildew. If your cottage has been closed up for months, the air inside is likely pretty stale — and there could even be mould or mildew you’ll need to take care of before spending an extended period of time inside. Open all of your windows and doors, and if your cottage has an air conditioning system, change the filter before starting it up. You could also consider using a dehumidifier to help get rid of any excess moisture in the air. Once you’ve opened up all the windows, check all window frames and walls for signs of mould and mildew (mildew tends to be whitish in colour, while mould is usually darker). If you notice mildew or mould, you may be able to clean it up yourself, but if it’s affecting a larger area, you should contact a professional.
- Turn on your water. If you turned off the pipes when you closed up your cottage last fall, it’s time to turn them back on. Before you do so, open one faucet and leave it open when you turn on the main valve. Once your main valve is turned back on, let water run from the opened faucet for a few minutes, then close it. If you have a pump that draws water directly from the lake, you’ll need to take some different steps to turn on your water. Contact a professional if you have questions about starting up your pump system.
- Check for damage caused by rodents or other pests. Look for holes in your walls and flooring, as well as any debris or waste left behind by pests. If you notice any damage or waste, you may need to contact a pest-control professional to prevent further damage.
Most cottages have unique quirks and features that require special attention on opening weekend. If you’re new to cottage life or if you’re unsure how to turn on your electricity, your water, or any of the other systems in your cottage, consult a local professional who can help make sure you have a smooth start to the season. If you have any questions about your seasonal property insurance coverage, reach out to your group’s licensed insurance broker.
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