Happy Spring! With warmer weather finally on the way, it’s time to start thinking about opening your lake house. Putting together your opening plan can be both exciting and overwhelming. It can be especially daunting if the property has been left unattended for an extended period. Read on for our expert advice to help you create a routine to streamline your opening process.
At Adirondack Premier Properties, we advise our clients to ask a caretaker or neighbor to check in on the property occasionally over winter. This can bring peace of mind and also help get ahead of any winter related damage as soon as possible. Whether someone’s checking on things, or you’re opening it up for the first time since the home was last used, here are some ideas and recommendations to make the process easier. By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth transition to reopening your lake house in the spring.
Opening Your Lake House – 6 Key Steps
1. Create a Checklist
Before you start reopening your lake house, create a checklist of all the tasks that need to be completed. This list should include everything from turning on utilities to cleaning the gutters. Having a checklist will help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t forget any critical tasks.
2. Check Public and Private Utilities
The first task you need to do when reopening your lake house is turning on the utilities. This includes electricity, water, and gas. Take your time turning on the water because when pipes have been empty, the rush of water could cause leaks. If there are no leaks from the initial opening of the water line, fully open it and walk through the property to check all lines for leaks.
After checking for leaks, open your faucets to make sure the water is running correctly. When you turn the faucets on, there may be air bubbles in your line causing a gurgling sound. If you have a well or septic system, you may want to hire a professional to have it inspected and/or pumped to ensure it is in good working order.
3. Inspect the Property
After turning on the utilities, inspect the lake house property for any damage caused by winter weather. Winters in the Adirondacks can be harsh on your home. Extreme temperatures, ice formation and falls, and broken branches are all variables that can cause damage throughout your property. In your exterior inspection, look for broken windows, damaged roofs, water damage or any potential for future damage. Having a caretaker or year-round neighbor check your home periodically can help decrease the chance of exterior damage by catching and preventing potential hazards right away.
Once you identify outside damage, it is time to inspect the interior. On your interior inspection, check for signs of damage from the exterior (i.e. leaky roof, pests or mold). If needed, set traps for the pests or contact a professional pest control worker. If you have a boathouse, don’t forget to check that as well. The dock may be damaged as well as the roof/structure.
After your full inspection, make a game plan to complete repairs. For any significant damage to your property, interior or exterior, consider hiring a professional for more extensive repairs to maintain the longevity of your property.
4. Clean the Property
Once you inspect the property, it’s time to clean it which can be the most time consuming part of opening of the house. Start with the interior, and plan to work on the exterior over multiple days. Start here because the interior is where you will be sleeping and spending most of your time, especially the first few days. Also, the weather still might be chilly, so make it as comfy as you can.
Depending on how long the lake house has been sitting, plan to give it a good deep clean. Remove any sheets that may be over furniture, and dust, vacuum and mop all rooms. As you are cleaning, start a load of laundry with your sheets to freshen them up before the night. Also, check lighting and determine if you need to add any new lightbulbs to rooms.
Once the interior is shining, begin working on the exterior. Start by removing any debris. Generally, there will be branches throughout the yard. Next, grab a rake to clean up any leaves or pine needles. After everything is raked from the yard, turn your attention to the actual home. Wash windows, power wash walkways and exterior (if vinyl or aluminum) and clean the gutters.
After the home is cleaned, head down to your boathouse or dock which will also need sprucing up. You may want to bring a power washer to clean the exterior or your dock. If the dock is older with worn wood, inspect the dock first to see if any boards need replaced as pressure washing may cause additional damage.
Using a pressure washer is a quick way to clean, but keep it at a lower pressure on pressure treated lumber vs. composite or aluminum docks. Pressure washing removes dirt and small algae. A wood dock may also need a cleaning solution (vinegar or baking soda) and a stiff brush to fully remove the grime and mildew.
Since you can’t have a boathouse without a boat, kayaks or canoe, these also need attention. Pull them out and give them a good clean. Spider webs and dust can build up over the winter, so cleaning them now and having them ready to go when the warmer weather arrives makes the lake house more enjoyable. Make sure that you also clean your life jackets. No one wants a cobweb on their head first time out!
5. Stock up on Supplies
Before reopening your lake house, stock up on essential supplies like toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies. Plan to use a lot of paper towels and cleaning supplies at first while you clean. Also, depending on the location of the property, you may want to go to the grocery store before heading to your lake house. Some lake homes are a 20+ minute drive to the nearest grocery store. It is smart to load up on groceries, especially if you have a freezer and a storage area for non-perishables. Also, make sure to check your first aid kit and replenish any supplies that are low.
6. Property Maintenance
Once everything is cleaned and opened back up, it’s time to do finishing maintenance and ongoing chores to maintain the property. Before you settle in to enjoy your camp, you may want to perform some crucial maintenance tasks on the lake house. Servicing the HVAC system, changing air filters and cleaning the fireplaces should be done regularly.
Many of the lake homes in the Adirondacks do not have air conditioning units because they are designed with screened porches or windows. Check your screens for holes so you can open your home without worry of mosquitoes and gnats and stay cool throughout the summer. While many ADK lake homes don’t have A/C, if yours does, make sure you have your system serviced and cleaned (especially if you shut it down for the winter).
Also, while fires might not be the first thing on your mind in the summer, there is nothing better to beat back the night chill than a little fire in your fireplace. Some camps may have fireplaces built into porches to provide comfortable night time enjoyment away from the mosquitoes. Be sure to check all fireplaces and make sure your chimney is clear of build up and debris. Always consider hiring a professional to inspect and maintain the property’s major systems, such as the fireplaces, heating and cooling systems.
Once the hard work to open your camp is complete, it’s time to maintain the cleanliness. Storms and nature happen, so continue to clean up any branches that fall and mow the yard regularly. By maintaining the property, you receive the best reward throughout the day – gorgeous lake views, cool breezes from the water, and the peacefulness of the Adirondacks!
Reopening your lake house in spring requires planning and preparation. By creating a checklist, checking utilities, inspecting the property, cleaning, stocking up on supplies, and performing maintenance, you can ensure a smooth transition and enjoy your lake house to the fullest. If you decide to rent your house once it’s ready to go, call one of our agents to ask for help with the rental process!