How Do You Take Care of Your Vacant Home When Travelling? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:54 PM   #1
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How Do You Take Care of Your Vacant Home When Travelling?

We hope to spend more time travelling in the near term, perhaps spending months at a time on the road before returning. I am interested in hearing how people address taking care of the sticks and bricks when they are gone for an extended period of time.
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Old 11-10-2017, 05:21 AM   #2
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my solution for this dliemma is to have a roommate. my house is a 4 bedroom huge thing left over from having 3 kids and a wife. now i'm a widower and all the kids are grown and gone. it is, however, paid for and all it costs me is taxes and insurance so i see no rational reason to get rid of it. so, this arrangement works great for me. i leave, he stays and there's always activity at the house plus i get a few bucks every month for rent (we both get a good deal on that). when i'm on the road it may be for several months (or more). i pay household bills online so that nagging nuisance is easily taken care of while roaming. i realize that my solution won't work well for a lot of folks, but, perhaps you could consider a "house sitter" (someone you know and trust). i know that i feel a whole lot better knowing there's someone there that can let me know if anything goes bad.

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Old 11-10-2017, 06:38 AM   #3
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Number one thing I do, is turn off the water main.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:19 AM   #4
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We turn off the gas, the water pump, set a light on a timer, and hope for the best. We have been broken into once. Kids. They broke a basement window. Nothing missing. Since then I've added a few game cameras.

My mother had an alarm system with ADT. It was connected through the phone line. When she passed, one of the first things I did was shut off the phone. I was unaware of the alarm until the bill came 3 months later. I thought she had discontinued it when she got a full time caregiver. I've got to wonder how they monitored the alarm with the phone disconnected, esp perhaps?
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:30 AM   #5
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dealing with leaving

we have lived in the same house for 41 years. we live out in the country on a dead end road every time we leave we wonder what we will have left when we get back. we have been gone as long as 6 weeks at a time!

we read in the paper breakins close to us but to date never a breakin and never anything missing when we get back. We do shut off the water at the meter we have a 400f run to our house and you just never know when a water line will break.

I guess just leave and say a prayer someone will watch over you!!


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Old 11-10-2017, 08:41 AM   #6
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You have someone like me house sit I've house sat for people for anything from three weeks to an entire winter. The entire winter was for a retired couple who campground host at death valley every winter.

Seriously, it can be a scary thing, which is why I've had so many opportunities to house sit over the last couple years. Finding a reliable person to be a presence, and watch over things while you're gone is tough.

Family and friends and friends of family. Reach out and see if there's someone they know who's in a situation where having a house to stay in would be helpful.

Not everyone knows someone, but I think through the social network (not that one), a lot of people know a reliable, honest person who could use a house, even if just because it's nicer than their house so they don't mind living in it for a while.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:51 AM   #7
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... I've got to wonder how they monitored the alarm with the phone disconnected, esp perhaps?
Yeah that is one bill I would not have paid myself. Any decent alarm system / monitoring company polls the system every so often and any phone disconnects are flagged and often treated as an active alarm. When I was a supervisor at the PD we would get a lot of "false" alarm calls and I had to train the officers to ask what zone was tripped or if it was a "trouble code" such as a cut phone line or dead back-up battery. If a disconnect was reported, they were to look for cut phone or cable lines. Sometimes we would find that the bad guys had cut the phone line and then go up the street to see if we responded. If we did not, they go back and break in knowing that it is likely that no alarm will be received. If we found cut phone lines, then if possible we might leave an officer on foot hiding in the area for awhile to see if someone came back (which was almost never possible because of manpower and workload). All that of course is predicated on the alarm company doing their part.

A cellular backup is a good option to combat intentional or unintentional telephone hard-line problems, but it adds quite a bit to the upfront and ongoing costs. Still, if the house was vacant for long periods I might consider it.
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Old 11-10-2017, 08:53 AM   #8
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There are remote cameras that you can view on your cell phone. A couple of years ago at Quartzite fellow Bigfoot owner Tom from California was showing me his. It showed a time lapse view of his cat going across his back yard.
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:07 AM   #9
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Number one thing I do, is turn off the water main.
Ditto to this. I struggle with security concerns. We park our car in the driveway to make it look lived in, but then of course it doesn't move while we are gone for a month.

Next time we might go the house sitter route.
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Old 11-10-2017, 09:14 AM   #10
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We recently completed a 24 day road trip to Arizona and back (to Miami.) We arranged to have guests to to keep an eye on things and to take care of our cat. Our friend from Venezuela had family in town and they stayed for the first week or so, then some dear friends from Chicago came down and covered the rest.

Not easy to find guests during hurricane season, especially two weeks after Irma. Some of the hurricane shutters were still up, but we made sure the pool was in operating condition.
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Old 11-10-2017, 10:48 AM   #11
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As it has been mentioned 2 or 3 times, I might caution people about turning off the water main. This may be an option for some but not for others. If you have hot water heat which needs to be on when you are gone, do NOT turn off the water! All hot water systems have a fill valve which keeps the system pressurized and filled if/when water is called for in the heating system. If your system should lose or use water for any reason, without makeup water, the boiler or water heater could cook. And, while there are some safeguards from a catastrophic event, you could lose the ability for the system to circulate enough water to keep your home heated.

There may be other water systems that also need to stay pressurized to work. A fire-sprinkler system comes to mind.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:03 AM   #12
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We hired a house sitter while we were gone for 3 months the last two years. It worked out well. This year my daughter has agreed to spend 4-5 nights per week staying at our house. It really gave us piece of mind that someone was there. We live in St. Louis City and we do have break ins in the neighborhood on an occasional basis. Our free standing garage was broken into a few years ago while we were home but never has anyone broken into the house. We also live directly across the street from a small neighborhood pharmacy and we let them know when we are leaving and when we will return, they are instructed to call the police if they see anyone moving furniture out of our place!
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:13 AM   #13
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All water and propane going into the house is turned off. The freeze proof water faucets outside left on in case of fire. Friend comes by every 2 days to feed cat. Friend will call if anything needs to be discussed.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:14 AM   #14
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I adjust the thermostat to 55 for winter or 85 for summer, shut off the water, turn of breakers for nonessential functions, make sure security cameras are working, notify my good neighbors (give them my contact info), Remove the false bottom of the mailbox so the junk mail has a place to pile up, ask my daughter to empty the mailbox periodically, put lights and radio on a timer, make sure insurance premiums are paid then just before I leave I spray for bugs, lock the door and forget about it.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:15 AM   #15
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We recently got our Casita and were gone for 10 days driving back from Texas.
Turning the water off would only be an option during the rainy season, my wife loves her plants and they are on an auto drip system.
I installed a security system that uses it's own cell phone. After initial cost we pay $15/month for monitoring including alerting the local police if necessary. No contracts, we only pay the $15 when we want it. Check out, SIMPLY SAFE.com.
I also stop mail delivery and newspaper delivery. We do have neighbors who we notify of our absence. An interior light on a timer is used also. All in all, any security system just keeps US feeling better.May or may not stop a break in.
Oh, almost forgot. A good home owners insurance policy and pics of valuables that are in our bank box.

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Old 11-10-2017, 11:22 AM   #16
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Important note at bottom.

Simplisafe.com makes wireless alarm systems that are considerably different from the traditional business model, which is like razor blades or printer ink. They nearly give away razors, but make it back on the blades. Printer makers practically do the same, and make it up on ink refills.

Burglar alarm companies often subsidize installation costs, making it back through monitoring fees and lengthy contracts.

Simplisafe lets you pick cameras, and sensors based on your needs.

Wireless Simplisafe is easy to self install, batteries last years and they will monitor for $14.95/mo. or you can control it from your phone or laptop.

In addition to their website, Simplisafe.com you can find their systems at Amazon or Best Buy.

Edit: Sorry Mark, I didn't see your post when I was writing mine. We agree.

One more thing, Do Not announce your trips on social media sites, including here, until you are safely back home. It is too easy to see who isn't home.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:31 AM   #17
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I'm a city neighborhood dweller. As such I have neighbors. My daughter is ADT salesperson. I tell the neighbors when I'm going to leave so they know to watch the place. I turn off the water at the street. Turn off the hot water heater. Set the thermostats to 45°F, open cabinet doors where there's pipes and leave.
There's often been two major worries when leaving. 1) come back to a pile of ashes. ADT takes care of that with full time smoke detection monitoring along with intrusion detection monitoring. 2) coming home to a flooded house because of broken pipe or fitting. Turning the water off takes care of that.
Then I leave and don't give it a second thought. ADT will call my daughter if there's a problem.
I think the best thing is the neighbors. As is I usually say "get to know your neighbors" they're best insurance you can have. Even while camping your camping neighbors serve the same function.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:42 AM   #18
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Move into an apartment, no ever knows if your home or not, as lights come on and lights still go off at designated times, same goes for the TV. We have someone come by and pick up the mail every cple of days and that is, rest is done by the Apartment Mgr.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:53 AM   #19
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I have a wireless monitored alarm system. It monitors intrusion, smoke and heating. In the event of a heating failure my heating contractor has a key and an alarm access code. He is on the cascading call list after my wife and me. This keeps my insurance company happy.

I l also have a gas fireplace I set 2 degrees lower than the gas furnace as a backup. I have a Nest thermostat I can access from a phone app. It's nice to turn the heat or ac on a few hours before getting home.

Before leaving I have a checklist, turn the water off, empty the refrigerator, take out the garbage, clean the coffee maker, turn h.w. heater off, set heat, timers on lights, etc.

I pay to have my snow cleared and lawn mowed. There is no garden or annual beds, just slow growing ornamentals.

I tried a free app called Alfred which effectively lets you use an old cellphone as a surveillance camera. It's OK but the phone I used doesn't work well at night and the motion detection is problematic. I think a better phone would give better results.

We only have cell phones. We have switched to electronic notification of nearly everything and reduced the amount of mail we receive to almost nothing. The post office does not deliver unaddressed mail at our request. I have a neighbour check and clear the box every couple of weeks.

All our routine bills(gas, water, charities, taxes, electricity, insurance, etc.) are paid automatically. Our income is deposited automatically.

Our few surviving houseplants are succulent extremophiles that thrive on neglect.

I back up important computer files to a cloud service. I also have a NAS that can be accessed remotely.

We have just acquired a Irobot Roomba vacuum. It can be programmed to clean automatically but I am not sure if we really need to use it when we travel.

To keep my smart devices online I am adding a timer to my modem and router to reset them, probably weekly. The last time we were away they went offline a week before we returned.
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Old 11-10-2017, 11:55 AM   #20
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Trusted housesitter

We have friends who are going to Europe for an extended period this spring and are staying in a place they found on trustedhousesitter.com. It's kind of like AirBnb but for people who are interested in house sitting and caretaking. I would think it's pretty secure since the people sign up through a website and are monitored/reviewed.

https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/us/
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