Owning a vacation home is a wonderful luxury. It can offer a place of respite away from the everyday hustle and bustle and provide an additional income stream through renters. Whether it is at the beach, mountains, lake or in the middle of the forest, a vacation home can be the ideal setting to truly relax and spend time with friends and loved ones.

If you own a vacation home, it is important to have a plan in place for maintenance and upkeep since you aren’t on the property all the time. This is especially important if you have a regular schedule of renters in your home. Following are suggestions for maintaining a vacation home so you can enjoy your home and eliminate worry.

Pre-construction or renovations after purchase

If you build your vacation home or purchase an existing home that needs updating, make every effort to use products and materials that will be easy to maintain and hold up to long-term wear and tear. Choose countertops and other surfaces that are durable, resist staining and are easy to clean. Easy-care flooring like a laminate plank, tile or low pile, stain resistant carpet will keep floors from looking worn before their time. Select energy efficient appliances, water heaters, and HVAC systems to save money and energy. For extra savings, use low wattage bulbs and low flow controls on showers and sinks. Consider using composite materials for outside decking and railings. They are more durable and require little to no maintenance.

Regular maintenance

Make sure renters clearly understand how to leave the home so it will be secure and use as little energy as possible while it is vacant. Blinds or window treatments should be closed, outside furniture should be covered and stored or secured, lights and ceiling fans should be turned off, and the water should be turned off at the main source in the house. Hire a reputable cleaning service to thoroughly clean after each renter leaves. Ask the service to check behind the renters to make sure all is left the way you would like for it to be.

The thermostat should be set at a lower temperature in the winter and higher temperature in the summer to keep HVAC systems from turning on as often. It is a good idea to have a local handyman on call should the renters experience any problems while renting. You may want to consider having the handyman check on the home every week or two to make sure all is okay, and alert you if there are problems. Develop a relationship with a reputable plumber and HVAC contractor who can be called upon if needed while you or renters are in the home. Also, have a contract with a lawn maintenance company to keep the yard looking nice year round.

Longer-term maintenance

It is important to have a schedule for professional upkeep on your vacation home. Take a walkthrough at least every six months to assess areas of concern, and make repairs and clean or replace furnishings as needed. Have your HVAC system serviced twice a year to keep it in optimal working order. Replace filters once a month or have permanent filters cleaned once a month. Have your water heater serviced once or twice a year to clear out all debris to ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. Keep water heaters at the optimal temperature of 120 degrees for best energy efficiency.

Hire a plumber to do a thorough check of the plumbing at least once or more a year. Have them check or replace flappers, check seals around sinks and toilets, tighten faucets and make sure drains are clear of any clogs. Have them inspect the garbage disposal and disconnect hoses from outdoor spigots in winter and cover them with insulated covers.

Schedule electrician to check the electrical wiring every one to three years. All electrical installations will deteriorate over time, so it is necessary to periodically check them for wear, damage and loose fitting sockets and light fixtures. Breakers should be inspected and tested, and any suspect areas replaced immediately.

It is important to repaint the exterior of the home before the paint starts chipping or peeling, and causing the curb appeal to drop. In harsher environments, this may be needed on a more regular basis. Pay attention to the roof and have it inspected for leaks or weather damage, and make repairs as required.

Having a thorough maintenance plan for your vacation home will not only help keep your home in top condition, but it can help keep larger repairs at bay. Keeping your vacation home well maintained will also allow you to have peace of mind when you are not there, and allow it to be a source of pure relaxation when you are there.