Leave a detailed information pack for the house sitter
An information folder is an essential item to leave a house sitter. It gives them somewhere to go for any information they may require.
We are always relieved to have something to look over as there is usually an awful lot to remember about another person’s way of life. You may think there is, but there is no such thing as too much information.
Below are some ideas of what to put in the pack:
The House sitting contract:
A good housesitter will provide you with a house sitting contract to sign to protect everyone involved. This is part of the service they should provide. it is a good idea to put a copy of this in the pack, this serves as a reminder and also contains important contact information. Make sure it is a copy and not the original as you want to keep that for yourself.
Travel itinerary and personal contact information:
Leave your itinerary of the dates and places you are going. If required you could leave the names and phone numbers of hotels etc you are staying in. If you are only wanted to be contacted in an emergency make sure you let the house sitter know this.
Leaving an email address is a good idea and that way the house sitter can send you informal updates on how the house sit is going, and how jealous they are of the great time you are having in exotic locations.
Other contact information:
It is a good idea to have someone you are close to who also lives in the area to be a contact for your house sitter. This could be a neighbour, relative, friend or work colleague. The house sitter can then liaise with this person if they need to know anything about the house or (touch wood) in an emergency.
It is preferable for the contact to have a sound knowledge of your home, pets and area. Choose someone who is comfortable to make decisions regarding your home if neccessary. Leave enough contact info so that the person you nominate can be contacted at a moments notice. If possible it is a good idea to get the contact and house sitter to meet before you leave. If not, very soon after the sitter arrives.
Make sure you also leave the contact details of the local emergency services such as police, ambulance etc. it is not unusual for visitors to be unfamiliar with emergency services. In Australia it is 000 and this was something we had to find out for ourselves.
It is also good to leave the contact details of local doctors, vets, service providers etc. Basically anywhere you think it would good for the house sitter to have contact details for. They should have provided you space for this in the contract.
Maps, transport and area information:
Maps are a great thing to include in your information pack, especially if the house sitter is not from the area. You could mark off local shops, tourist attractions etc close by for the house sitter. Also try to provide info on the local transport systems such as bus and train services.
Any information you can give the house sitter on the area is greatly appreciated.
House rules and information:
Here you can include anything you want the house sitter to know about the rules of the house and also any information they may need to know while you are away.
Some ideas include:
- Any duties that are required to maintain the house to the standard you would like.
- If your home is an apartment or in a closed community – the rules and regulations of the complex.
- Your policy on allowing your house sitter to have visitors, or to have people staying at the house while you are away.
- List of any contents you do not wish your house sitter to use. E.g. computer, exercise equipment etc.
- Info on the security and alarm system if you have one. Also instructions on how to use the locks on the windows and doors.
- Rooms or areas on your property you do not wish the house sitter to use.
- Info on where to find things such as cleaning products, fresh linen, towels etc.
- Anything else the house sitter may need to know about your home
Utilities and appliances:
It would be a good idea to have your house sitter well informed of the utilities and appliances they will be using in your home. They will need to know how to use and maintain these items. Might be a good idea to leave the contact details of good electricians, plumbers or a handyman friend just in case.
Electricity and Gas: Leave information about the safe use and whereabouts of mains and meters.
Water: Leave information of the whereabouts of water mains if maintenance is required. If your area has water restrictions leave info on the use of water. Things such as how much can be used, when it can be used and methods of use.
Heating and air-conditioning: Leave information on how to use any air conditioning units, heaters, fire places etc.
Kitchen and Laundry appliances: As we all know each appliance is unique. Some have a mind of their own while others are just downright confusing. Your house sitter should be able to work most appliances in your home but it is a good idea to leave a little bit of information on those that may need it.
TV’s, Stereos, and Computers: Leave any instructions that may come in handy for the house sitter. We’ve had home owners label remotes and this has been brilliant. If you have time, please try to leave a detailed reference guide for entertainment systems.
Garden, Lawn and Pool maintenance:
A house sitter doesn’t only look after the inside of your home but the outside also. Provide any information you can to keep your property looking the way you want it.
Lawn and Garden:
Leave information on what is required from the house sitter in able to keep the lawn and garden to the standard in which they arrived including:
- Exactly what you want done e.g. lawns mowed, plants watered, leaves raked etc. Also include how often you want these duties performed.
- Instructions on how to use and maintain the lawnmower etc. How often the garden will need to be mowed and the best times to do this.
- Information on how, when and how often to water the lawn, flower/vegetable garden etc. If there are water restrictions it is important to let the house sitter know this fact (see utilities above).
- Instructions on where to find all gardening tools and supplies that will be required.
- Any other information that the house sitter will need to take care of your lawn and garden.
The Pool or Spa: The pool and spa can be difficult to look after. If the house sitter is well informed there should be no problem.
Instructions should include:
- Exactly what is required to maintain pool standard.
- The whereabouts and use of cleaning equipment
- What chemicals are required and how and when to use them.
Important to include safety instructions when dealing with chemicals.
Service Provider Information:
Rubbish/Recycling collection: Let the house sitter know what days these will be collected and where to leave the bins on collection day. Leave info on which bins are for rubbish and which are for recycling and also what items are for recyclable (different areas recycle different items). Note down where rubbish bags can be found.
Postal Services: Let the house sitter know where you would like the mail to be put and what to do with any papers, leaflets and junk mail.
Home delivery services: If you there is anyone that will be delivering items to your home while you are away leave info on the date and time that this is likely to occur. That way the house sitter can try to be home at these times. Let the house sitter know where to put delivered items.
Home maintenance services: If there are going to be any home maintenance providers (e.g. gardeners, cleaners etc) come over while you are away, leave info on when they will be coming over and what job they will be doing. You don’t want irate house sitters chasing innocent maitenaince people away with rolling pins.
Pay TV: If you subscribe to pay TV, then leave info on how to operate the service. We have had home owners label their remotes, always handy for the confused house sitter.
Internet: If you are allowing the house sitter to use the computer and internet leave any info about the computer and internet provider that the house sitter may need to know.
If you are leaving for a long period of time and you are leaving your vehicles behind, you may want your house sitter to take special care of them. It may be a car, motor bike, boat or even a bicycle. Whatever it may be make sure you the house sitter knows exactly how to look after any vehicles in your absence.
Maintenance: Let the house sitter know exactly how you want your vehicles maintained.
This could include:
- Starting the vehicle every now and again so battery doesn’t go flat
- How to clean vehicle exterior and/or interior if required
- Taking your car in for a service or warrant while you are away
- Where to find all cleaning products and equipment
Use of your vehicles by the house sitter:
You may be quite happy for your house sitter to use all or some of the vehicles you may own. Obviously you will have checked that they are properly licensed and well bodied enough to do so. If the vehicle that is being used is insured call and put the house sitter on the insurance also. You will need their full names and date of birth for this.
Leave any info that the house sitter may require in using the vehicle including:
- What vehicles the house sitter may use, if any. (The house sitter shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t want them to use your vehicles. It is a luxury, not a neccessity to provide your house sitter with a vehicle).
- Anything the house sitter may need to know about operating the vehicles (anything from starting it to what petrol it takes).
- Lock, alarm and security info.
- Rules on where and when the vehicles may be used.
- Where keys and garage remotes can be found.
- Local traffic rules and regulations.
Now I know all of this may seem like a lot to put in an information pack but how much or how little information you provide your house sitter is entirely up to you. Remember the information pack is designed to give both you and the house sitter peace of mind on while you are away.
Getting your home ready for the house sitter.
Setting the standard:
When the house sitter first arrives, your home and property should look exactly how you want it to look when you arrive home from your travels. That way, the house sitter knows exactly what standard they are expected to keep the house at. We always try to better it. We love to leave the property even better than we left it.
Letting others know you will be away and that there will be a house sitter:
This is a very important step in the house sitting process. You need to do this to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
People you need to inform include:
- Your insurance company
- Any service providers e.g. gardeners, pool cleaners etc
- Anyone that may have contact with the house sitter while you are away
Safe proof your home:
House sitters will always do their utmost to look after a home and its contents to the best of their abilities. In saying this we are human beings and accidents will occur from time to time. If there is anything that you definitely do not want to be broken then either put it somewhere safe (e.g. cupboard or spare room), or somewhere where the chances of it being broken are very slim (e.g. high shelf).
What else will your house sitter need?
Set of Keys: You will need to provide the house sitter with their own set of keys each and a spare set if possible. This will help when they want to leave the house at different times. Make sure they have all the keys they will need to enjoy, secure and maintain your home.
You could provide a little storage space: The house sitter may need somewhere to put the things they bring with them. If possible, try and make some cupboard and/or drawer space for them.
Stock up: Stock up on the things that will make it easier for the house sitter to look after your home. Things like cleaning products, pet food, kitty litter etc. House sitters should bring their own bathroom products so you don’t need to worry about those.
Food, food, glorious food: Anything non-perishable that you wish to be kept for your return, store away and/or inform the house sitter you don’t want it to be eaten. Anything that is perishable that you would like cleaned up the house sitter will more than likely be happy to oblige. The way we usually work it is we will eat anything perishable that has been left then replace it. Feel free to make any arrangements that you see fit with the house sitter.
Vehicle parking: If the house sitter is bringing their own vehicle, try to provide an area for them to park it, or store it away. This may be a space in your garage or somewhere near your home.
Now you are ready to leave your home safe with the knowledge you have done everything you can to give both yourself and the house sitter peace of mind.
All that is left for you to do is go, relax and enjoy your time away knowing that your house sitter is well informed and well equipped to handle any situation!