For millions of families, cottages have been a relaxing place to get away for the last few decades. If you’re one of the many people who own a cottage of your very own in the mountains, woods, or plains, you know it takes a little work each spring to get the property ready for summer fun. Follow this guide to opening your cottage this spring for a quick and easy start to the season.

Restore the Utilities

Start by contacting any local utility providers you requested a shutoff from in the fall. If you simply flipped the breaker box switch and twisted your main water valve cutoff switch, make sure to reset both to restore your water and power. Gas lines also need reconnection or refilling if you rely on a tank. If any of the utility connections look damaged or leak, contact the utility provider for help. Check for dead light bulbs and missing window screens before kicking back and relaxing.

Check for Damage

Stroll around the cottage’s exterior when you first arrive to check for damage to the walls, windows, roof, and eaves. Falling limbs, hail, and heavy winter snow loads can damage a cottage extensively in the off season. You may need a ladder to spot missing or loose shingles shifted by the wind. Repairing any damage to the exterior is a priority since leaks quickly spread to the interior. Keep the number of a reliable roofer or handyman on hand to make sure you can get quick service when you discover a problem.

Once you’ve assessed the outside of the cottage, check for interior damage too. It’s less likely to occur over the winter when no one’s using the structure, but it’s always possible for leaks and mold to develop during the off season. Mold is often detected by the nose because it produces a musty, unpleasant odour. The moisture required by mildew and mold usually comes from some kind of leak. Whether you have a dripping pipe or a leaking roof, make sure to repair the damage and treat the mold before occupying the cottage for the first time.

Update Your Insurance

Opening season offers the perfect opportunity for updating your cottage insurance policy. Have you recently added new features like a hot tub, covered porch, or upgraded flooring? Make sure your insurance policy reflects the structure’s true value. Letting your cottage insurance policy lapse also puts you at risk for serious loss if there’s a fire, storm, or other emergency. Make sure you’re paid up and properly documented so you know exactly what to do if something happens during a busy summer.

Change Batteries and Filters

Fire and CO2 alarms only work when they receive regular battery replacements. Spring is the right time for putting in new batteries and testing the alarms for volume and response. If you can’t get to the battery or properly test an alarm, replace it rather than trying to work out its issues. Don’t forget about the filters in any central heating or air conditioning systems in the cottage. Clean filters provide better efficiency and performance, keeping you and your guests comfortable all season long.

Look for Signs of Pests

A serious infestation of insects or rodents can lead to permanent property damage and the risk of illness. Pest control is often as simple as closing up some openings around windows and doors and putting down some traps. For more serious infestations, you’ll need a professional’s help. Pest signs include:

  • Droppings left on counters, inside cabinets, or around the refrigerator.
  • Markings from gnawing or boring into wood and other materials.
  • Openings made around wall edges, windows, and doors.
  • Bits of sheds and husks left behind by shedding insects.
  • Webbing and egg sacs gathered in the corners of rooms and cabinets.
  • Bits of sawdust around the edges of the foundation around the cottage.

With a little care and attention, you can easily handle the opening of your cottage this spring. Print out this cottage opening checklist to keep it handy if your cottage is located out of cell phone range. Don’t forget to contact us if you need any additional cottage insurance coverage before the summer begins.

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