Michigan summers are unrivaled in their beauty, with many flocking to the lakeshore or the proverbial “up north” to enjoy the blue skies and clear waters. Many are lucky enough to have cottages or summer homes to visit regularly, leaving the stressful rigors of work and routine for the chance to clear their mind in the warm Midwestern sun.
Of course, owning a second property can be a source of stress in and of itself. Most people with a summer home or cottage visit on weekends or even a week here or there, but very few people can enjoy their cottage for the entire summer. Even then, most of these vacation properties sit empty in the offseason, leaving them vulnerable to burglary and the elements in the meantime.
Luckily, there are a number of ways savvy vacationers and property owners can prepare their home-away-from-home for the intermittent times between visits—and help assure their holiday time is as stress-free as they deserve.
Tip 1: Hire a maintenance person.
Paying for someone to check in on your property is an easy way to head off some of the more costly threats to your house—a leaky pipe, a faulty furnace, or signs of suspicious behavior. The benefits of having maintenance personnel is that the same person checking on the property can often fix the issue themselves.
Just as importantly, the constant physical presence of someone in a property is a key deterrent against burglary. Burglars often check to see if anyone is home before breaking in, and the presence of someone on the property—or even the perceived presence, such as a parked car or lights on—has shown to be an effective deterrent.
Tip 2: Befriend the neighbors
Hiring a maintenance person isn’t always financially feasible. Befriending your neighbors in immediate proximity to your property can be mutually beneficial. On weeks or weekends that you are unable to visit your property, they can keep an eye on the cabin and vice versa. If you know them well, you may even consider exchanging keys with a trusted neighbor so they can give your property a quick look-over and give you a heads-up to any signs of trouble or environmental damage.
Tip 3: Lock down your doors (the smart way)
Locking doors when you’re not present might seem like common sense, but over 30% of burglars gain entry through unlocked doors. Even if you are locking your door, standard door knob locks are easy to work around or break through. It’s worth upgrading your door locks to a high-quality deadbolt to deter prospective burglars. What’s more, many high-end lock companies such as Yale actually produce smart home-compatible door locks that can be locked or unlocked from the convenience of your phone. Even if you forget to lock the door when you leave your second home, you can lock it from you wherever you are to better protect your property.
Tip 4: Lock down life safety–with fire & CO alarms
Protecting your property is important for when you’re not occupying your vacation home, but it’s just as important to install functioning life safety devices in your second residence for when people are there. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors can alert you locally to the presence of life-threatening elements, and a professionally-monitored fire alarm system can dispatch emergency services within moments of detecting the issue. Life safety devices and professional monitoring can help minimize fire damage even when you’re not residing in your second home by alerting the fire department to a fire quickly that might otherwise spread throughout the whole property, causing untold damage. (More on professional monitoring in a minute!)
Tip 5: Maintain your property and keep it well-lit
Putting a little elbow grease into keeping your property presentable goes a long way. Maintaining your bushes, cleaning your windows, and keeping a clear line of sight around your cottage makes it less desirable to burglars, who prefer to break in under the cover of foliage or other obstructions. Additionally, the installation of motion lights can act as a major deterrence for any burglar attempting to break in under the cover of darkness.
Tip 6: Install water-leak detectors
Ill-intentioned intruders aren’t the only threat to your vacation property. Water damage is a common issue even in a standard home, and the risk for major damage increases for vacation properties that are not always occupied. Additionally, Michigan’s unpredictable weather can freeze and thaw pipes at such frequencies that vacation homes are often subject to burst pipes, especially in the brutally cold northern reaches of the state. Security companies provide flood detectors for placement around sinks, sump pumps, or anywhere water is likely to leak from. The earlier you can detect a leak at your property, the better chance you have at fixing the issue before it causes major damage.
It’s easier than ever to check in on your second home when you’re not there. For instance, with the EPS Total Connect platform, you can check on your patio with exterior wi-fi cameras, check in to see who’s at your front door with a Skybell video doorbell, or lock and unlock your side door for your neighbor—all from the same, easy-to-use application.
Another handy feature of the EPS smart home solution is the ability to set schedules for your connected devices. If you’d like to give the illusion that someone is home on Mondays between 6pm and 9pm, you can instruct your system to activate your living room and patio lights for that time period every single Monday.
Tip 8: Invest in professional monitoring
The best thing you can do to protect your vacation home is to have a professionally installed and monitored security system. The truth is, you, your maintenance man, and your neighbors can’t be everywhere at once. Instead of trying to be everywhere at once, invest in a solution that provides 24/7 protection of your property. Professionally monitored flood detectors, motion detectors, door and window contacts, smoke alarms, and more can provide you with peace of mind however far away you are.
The inverse is also true: when you’re staying at your cottage hours away from home, you can trust that your home is secure by investing in a professionally monitored security system. You can check in on teenaged children, pet-sitters, or just your empty house while you’re lounging on the beach to make sure everything’s going smoothly while you’re taking five. With the rise in popularity of Airbnbs, you could even provide security for people paying to stay in one of your homes when you are not there and provide them with codes for temporary access.
When it comes to smart home security solutions and professional monitoring, the decision is simple. Choose a company with 65 years in experience protecting Michigan homes (and vacation properties) from threats of fire, burglary, water damage, and more. Discuss your priorities and needs with our security consultants and trust in a system designed by our experienced engineers. Choose EPS Security and discover the convenience and peace of mind you deserve.