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Old 02-24-2012, 06:50 AM   #1
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What do you do with your base home?

We're going to start p/t work camping/volunteering next spring and, hopefully, throughout the summer and into seasonal fall (depending on where the job is located). We don't plan to sell our home in the White Mountains of NH because we want to be here for the winter season for skiing, snowshoeing, etc. And because this is where our hot tub and fireplace is located And because NH has no state income tax or sales tax. For those of you who don't f/t, what do you do with your home while you are away? Close it up? Rent it? House sit it? Other?
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:00 AM   #2
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You may find a lack of responses to this subject due to the sensitivity and privacy issues of those being away from their homes for extended periods of time.

Wish you well on your workamping travels.
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:32 AM   #3
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Our winter home is closed up and left unoccupied while we travel for 6-7 months. The last thing we would need is the hassles of a short term rental while we were gone. We have a lawn/pool service that checks the outside of the house when they are working there and send us an email whether all looks ok from the outside. They also will remove any advertising flyers/free newspapers, etc. that have been left. Through the years, though, our complaining to the source every time we get one has diminished those to almost nothing. We do not notify the local police or try to keep our trip secret. Nosy neighbors are sure to blab to someone about us being gone and the secret is not secret anymore.

Water is turned off at each outlet (don't forget the icemakers and washing machine). We leave the main on so that the lawn sprinklers and fire suppression sprinklers will work. We do have lights on timers but those get messed up as summer storms cause short term electrical outages. We half fill plastic bags with water and place them over drains and in toilets to keep the water from evaporating, and unplug all the parasitic electric appliances/devices we can find. We set the AC at 85, open closet doors so they do not become musty. We leave and do not worry about the house until we return. If anything happens while we are gone that is what insurance is for.

One very important thing is to check to make certain that your home insurance will stay in full effect while you are gone. Policies have a vacancy clause and some will reduce coverage for things like theft, vandalism and water damage if the house is "vacant" for 30 days. Many (most?) will continue coverage as long as house is ready to move back into while you are essentially away on a long trip, but you have to find out for certain - took 3 weeks of assertive phone calls to get written confirmation from our insurance.

Enjoy your journeys.
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:36 AM   #4
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Would never sell our home either for basically the same reasons. I shut everything down except the furnace. Neighbors keep an eye on it.
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:48 AM   #5
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We leave our home during the winter while we play Snowbird. We leave the heat on at 50 degrees, and cover all the drains with water-filled freezer bags and saran wrap the toilet bowl and water reservoir.

Regarding insurance, there is a difference between a house being "vacant" rather than merely "unoccupied." "Vacant" means that there is nothing in the house; i.e., no furniture. "Unoccupied" means that people aren't there. There are thousands and thousands of Snowbirds who spend the winters in the southern states...do you think all of those peoples' houses are uninsured while they're gone???
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Old 02-24-2012, 02:46 PM   #6
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We don't leave that long, but when we do...I put out four timers for lights, one timer for a radio, main water off, heat on 63/air on 85, stop paper, stop mail, unhook all cables (TVs, computers, etc), lock the garage door opener, turn water heater to "vacation," tell the neighbors we'll be gone, and probably others I can't recall.
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:03 PM   #7
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When one of our relatives snowbirds to South Texas for the winter, I will check on the house about every 5 days. Have done this for about 12 years.

When I retire and travel during the warmer months, I'm hoping I can get my brother to check in on my home and cut the grass.
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Old 02-24-2012, 04:53 PM   #8
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All good ideas. No one has tried renting it out?
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Old 02-24-2012, 05:49 PM   #9
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Hi BlueGekko,
Our daughter lives with us so the house is always occupied. This is the only advantage I can think of to have a relative live in one's house. Because you are gone in the summer, maybe there is a relative that would enjoy your house for the summer.
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
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We have a summer home in CO and a winter home in NV. Our permanant address is in NV for many reasons but mainly income taxes. We removed the lawn and replaced it with desert landscape (mower for sale). Trees are on auto watering and neighbor checks on it every couple weeks. There are mail forwarding services but we just change our address temporarily and pay our bills thru the internet. Leave the hot water heater off and turn the water off to the inside of the house. Unplug all unnessary drains on the power and cancel the newspaper-you can read most on line. Set up landline to transfer to cell, jump in motorhome, hook up toad and GO. Have been doing this since 2001 and has worked very well. Good luck.
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PS: I do leave the AC on in NV (90) and the heat on in CO (45).
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:04 AM   #11
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For the people doing the "snowbird" thing, leaving the sticks and bricks with the t-stat set at 45-50 degrees - have you considered what might happen if the place looses power for any length of time? One frozen/burst pipe anywhere can result in a huge disaster - and there's a good chance it will not be covered by your insurance. Many policies cover the freeze damage, but not the resulting flood afterward. They'll fix the pipe(s) that froze, but not the carpet, drywall, whatever. You might want to check on that.

The better plan is to turn the water off if you're leaving the house unattended. Then if you loose power and it freezes up on you it's not quite so big a deal.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:43 AM   #12
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When we leave to become snowbirds the house thermostat is set at 50. We turn off the water and water heater then drain everything by attaching a garden hose to the water heater and drain outside into the sewer vent then open the lowest point, an outside spigot in our case then open faucets from the highest point down. Then we shut them all back off and pour a little RV antifreeze in the traps. I figure there is still is the possibility that the pipes will freeze but this should minimize the damage.

The neighbors keep an eye on the house and we have one of the low temp alarms that lights a red light in the window. It is pointed right at the neighbor that is in HVAC.

You can also give your local police department a call to let them know you won't be home and they may take an extra cruise by once in a while.

Renting it out is not an option. We have been that route before and almost always got screwed. Renting to friends or relatives is the worst idea. They for some reason feel it is OK not to pay you if they have any little hangnail or something. If you are still set on renting get them to sign a release to get a credit check. Get the first month, last month and a security deposit. Have a motorcycle gang on retainer to evict them. Going the legal route takes months and you lose $ in the long run. Anyone getting the idea we didn't like being landlords?
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:54 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahicks View Post
For the people doing the "snowbird" thing, leaving the sticks and bricks with the t-stat set at 45-50 degrees - have you considered what might happen if the place looses power for any length of time? One frozen/burst pipe anywhere can result in a huge disaster - and there's a good chance it will not be covered by your insurance. Many policies cover the freeze damage, but not the resulting flood afterward. They'll fix the pipe(s) that froze, but not the carpet, drywall, whatever. You might want to check on that.

The better plan is to turn the water off if you're leaving the house unattended. Then if you loose power and it freezes up on you it's not quite so big a deal.
I agree turning the water off is a better idea if you can. When we lived up north and snowbirded we had a claim for a busted water pipe. The insurance company did not balk at paying the subsequent flood damage. What they did make noise about was that they wanted to declare the policy not in force for busted pipes as the house was vacant. We had to get a lawyer and threaten suit and all the nastiness that goes with that kind of thing. Delayed payment for the claim almost a year.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahicks View Post
For the people doing the "snowbird" thing, leaving the sticks and bricks with the t-stat set at 45-50 degrees - have you considered what might happen if the place looses power for any length of time? One frozen/burst pipe anywhere can result in a huge disaster - and there's a good chance it will not be covered by your insurance. Many policies cover the freeze damage, but not the resulting flood afterward. They'll fix the pipe(s) that froze, but not the carpet, drywall, whatever. You might want to check on that.

The better plan is to turn the water off if you're leaving the house unattended. Then if you loose power and it freezes up on you it's not quite so big a deal.
We do not leave the water on at the CO house. We drain the water lines at the low point outside faucet and the water heater. We also pour RV antifreeze in the drains. Fortunately we do have the plastic type plumbing which is a little more tolerable of the cold. Only thing I worry about is the water wells captive air tank and copper plumbing to the house. It is heat taped and insulated but I still worry about it. Pump is off in winter.

Been doing this since 2005 and, so far, have not had a problem. House is at 8000' elevation.

Believe me when I say the NV house will not freeze in summer I don't know if it matters but the CO house is insured as a second home.
Richard
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