Top 10 Tips for your Autumn Holiday Home Check Up

Posted by in Chartsedge News on the 2nd of October 2015

As a holiday home owner you are now coming to the quieter part of your letting year and now is an ideal time to take stock and see what repairs and improvements can be made to your property.

Chartsedge as specialists in selling Holiday Homes in the South West often see properties that have been not been looked after over the years which then decreases their value and makes them harder to sell. In the majority of cases the problems to begin with were minor but as they were not dealt with at the time, when it would have cost a minimal amount to fix, now cost £100’s or even £1,000’s to remedy.

We come across many properties we are trying to sell where it is obvious that there has been no yearly maintenance and problems have been patched up. Buyers of holiday homes do not want to carry out any work on the new purchase, they want to enjoy it and earn an income immediately and as it is a discretionary purchase they can be put off from the start if they are faced with a lot of work.

Some of our clients put comment sheets in their properties to encourage holidaymakers to say what a wonderful time they have had (great for marketing) but what is almost equally as important, is a section asking what could be improved at the property. You may have seen these when you are staying in a hotel and there is a very good reason for this. Guests who have written down their complaints and suggestions while on holiday are then less likely to put an adverse comment on Trip Advisor or your holiday letting website as they have already got it out of their system.

These comments are very useful for an owner to understand what can be improved and or fixed. Comments we have seen could be as small as;  the kettle takes too long to boil and is not big enough; toaster needs to make four at a time; not enough wine glasses (very common as they seem to be the most broken item!); there were no board games for the children, to the more serious… the loo leaked; the shower was mouldy and not powerful 460-toilet_1001290_2351432cenough; we were all queuing to use the bathroom(s) and this was a headache in the mornings; there was no internet access/sky/freeview and we missed the match; the house was dirty etc.

It is good to take these comments on board and try and rectify these over the winter 34054584period. What you DON’T want to do is make a list and then try and do these works just before the season when everybody else is doing the same thing. The contractors you need will be busy, more expensive as they are in demand and it will be a rushed job. Another good reason for doing it in the winter is that your bank account is fuller than any other time of the year.

We talked to Jackie Dawes at Helpful Holidays the award winning Holiday Letting Company about the importance of the Autumn check and she commented “We agree wholeheartedly with Miles on this. We always ask for feedback from our holidaymakers via a questionnaire and visitor’s book and we share the responses with our owners. It’s so important to ensure that a holiday home is well maintained. We average 29 weeks per property (excluding owners’ own bookings). Some properties we book for more than 45 weeks a year and a few for 52 weeks so it’s important to arrange maintenance when the house is unoccupied. We regularly inspect our holiday homes and are happy to advise owners on what’s required. Our reputation depends on it.”

Many of our buyers are “time poor” and will find it difficult to visit their properties to arrange for remedial work to be carried out and this may put them off buying the property in the first place.

There are a few select companies offering a management and inspection service thus taking the hassle out of keeping their property in good order.

Montagu Properties South West has just expanded from their London base and have opened an office in the South Hams, Devon. They offer a fresh set of eyes for holiday home owners and will visit the property to create a report of what needs doing immediately and more importantly what planned improvements should take place in the future. Their aim is to increase income and bookings for their clients and they have decades of experience in doing this. Lola Grogan, a director at Montagu, commented ‘we are used to advising clients on what improvements they can do to their holiday home to increase their return. We advised one client, who had a  lovely cottage that slept seven, on a planned maintenance program over a  number of years and their income doubled over a 4 year period and even more importantly  their complaints almost completely stopped

Montagu has recently created a comprehensive list of annual checks to make on a holiday home and we have picked our top 10 here:

Exterior

  1. Chimney stacks: Check these occasionally for signs of cracked cement, split or homeguides-articles-thumbs-dangers_of_blocked_chimneys.jpg.600x275_q85_cropbroken pots, or loose and gaping joints in the brickwork or render. Storms may loosen aerials or other fixings, including the materials used to form the joints with the roof coverings.
  1. Roof coverings: Check these occasionally for slipped, broken and missing tiles or slates, particularly after storms.

Flat roofing has a limited life and is at risk of cracking and blistering.  You should not         walk on a flat roof.  Where possible keep it free from debris.  If it is covered with spar           chippings, make sure the coverage is even, and replace chippings where necessary.

  1. Rainwater pipes and gutters: Clear any debris at least once a year, and check for leaks when it is raining. You should also check for any loose downpipe connector and broken fixings.
  1. Drains Lift drain covers annually to check for blockages and clean these as necessary. blocked_gully2Check any private drainage systems annually, and arrange for a qualified contractor to clear these as necessary.  Keep gullies free from debris.
  1. Garden: Regularly prune trees, shrubs and hedges as necessary. Look out for any tree on houseoverhanging and unsafe branches, loose walls, fences and ornaments, particularly after storms.  Clear leaves and other debris, moss and algae growth.  Make sure all hard surfaces are stable and level, and not slippery or a trip hazard.

Internally

  1. Ceilings: If you have a leak in the roof the first sign is damp on the ceiling beneath the ceiling-leakroof. Be aware if your ceiling begins to look uneven as this may indicate a more serious problem, particularly for older ceilings.

 

 

7.  Decoration: Freshen and repaint all old and peeling paintwork. Remove any old wood chip paper to create a more modern feel. Try and redecorate one room every year to avoid a huge job in one go.

  1. Fireplaces, chimney breasts and flues: You should arrange for a qualified chimney sweep removing nest 2specialist to regularly sweep all used open chimneys every year. Also, make sure that bricked-up flues are ventilated.  Flues to gas appliances should be checked annually by a qualified gas technician.

Services

  1. Arrange for an appropriately qualified technician to check and test all gas, oil services, Electric-Shock-2722736boilers, heating systems and connected devices once a year. If you are letting the property out a gas safety certificate is mandatory.

 

  1. Electrical installations should only be replaced or modified by a suitably qualified electrician and tested as specified by the Electrical Safety Council (recommended minimum of a ten year period if no alterations or additions are made, or on change of occupancy).

Remember holidaymakers are becoming more and more discerning and in particular they want at least what they have at home and usually more. They are also very well informed by the internet and it only takes one disgruntled tenant to put a negative review on your property and this can cost you £1,000’s in income. Employing a company to look after these things also means that when you visit your holiday home you can relax and have that glass of wine at lunchtime and not feel guilty that you should really be redecorating the small bedroom!
If you are thinking of selling your holiday home and would like Chartsedge to give you a no obligation idea of the value or what you could do to improve your property ready for sale contact us on 01392 832446 info@chartsedge.co.uk   ww.chartsedge.co.uk

If you want to contact Montagu Property Services for a free no obligation inspection email lola@montagusouthwest.co.uk   www.montagusouthwest.co.uk 01803 847871

Helpful Holidays www.helpfulholidays.com/home_owners_info.asp   01647 434078