Guide to opening your cottage

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Winter’s deep freeze is over, the grass is turning green and the leaves are blooming on the trees, it’s that time of year where you look forward to opening your cottage and preparing for another summer of dock days and campfire nights.

Keep the following list of 10 steps handy as you prepare to open your cottage for the season.

  1. Ensure that your utilities are turned on. For those utilities that may need to be turned on by professionals such as water or gas, don’t forget to make these arrangements ahead of time so that the utilities are on before you arrive. If any utilities, such as your septic system, need to be inspected by a professional, book those check-ups!
  2. Review your insurance coverage and ensure that you seasonal property insurance policy is up to date. Are you adding some new toys this summer? A new boat or dirt bike? Alternatively, are you planning on renting out your cottage for the full season, or perhaps just a weekend? It’s crucial to review your policy coverage every year to ensure that you are protected. Don’t hesitate to contact your licensed insurance broker before the cottage season starts.
  3. Pack the essentials. Before you make the first trip up to your cottage for opening weekend, make sure you pack your essentials, such as bottled water, cleaning supplies, additional batteries for your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, air conditioning filters, first aid kit, toolkit, and most importantly your keys! What a nightmare if you are locked out when you arrive!
  4. Take a stroll around your property. Before entering your cottage, take a walk around the property and cottage. Check to make sure that there are no broken windows, signs of break-ins, or damage caused by pests. Does anything outside look different than when you closed your cottage last fall?
  5. Inspect your roof. A winter with heavy snowfall and ice can cause damage to your roof. Carefully inspect your roof. Are any shingles missing? Or worst, did a section of your roof cave in or sustained significant damage? This damage can cause water damage inside your cottage. If you identify any issues, contact a professional to inspect these immediately.
  6. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. If you remembered to pack new batteries (which you should have if you read #3!), the first step as you enter your cottage is to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Even if they are working, it is always prudent to replace the batteries every year, thus ensuring that they last all season long. It is also good to check the manufacturer expiration date and replace the device if necessary.
  7. Air out that musky smell. As you enter your cottage for the first time, you will likely get a whiff of stale air. With your cottage closed up for the season, there has not been much circulation inside. Open all your windows and doors. Consider using a dehumidifier to get rid of any excess moisture. Also, take a walk around the inside, and look for mould or mildew, focusing close to the window frames and ceilings.
  8. Replace air conditioning system filters. Not all cottages are equipped with air conditioners. If your cottage has an air conditioning system, it is prudent to change the filter before starting it up for the season.
  9. Turn on your water. If you have a 3-season cottage, it is highly likely that you turned off the water and flushed out your cottage plumbing system to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting. As you get ready for the summer, it is time to turn on the main valve. Once you turn on the main valve, open a faucet and let the water run for a few minutes. Each cottage is set up differently and you may need to contact a professional to assist with this process (note: book this ahead of time!).
  10. Check for inside damage. Just because there was no damage on the outside, it is still possible that your cottage suffered damage inside. Look for water damage or pests damage. Pests typically leave behind debris! If you notice anything unusual and possibly pest-related, contact a pest-control professional.

As you are preparing for the cottage season, do not hesitate to reach out to your licensed insurance broker. Every cottage season is a good cottage season but a stress-free cottage season is better!

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