Just recently a friend of ours bought a lake house in the woods of Wisconsin. She kept her house in the Chicagoland area, but was excited to use this second property to relax, entertain, and make new memories on the weekends and throughout the summer.
As much as she wanted to move-in and start enjoying this space immediately, she had some work to do before it was “move-in ready”. To top it off, she works Monday through Friday near her primary residence in Chicago, which kept her from traveling up to Wisconsin and getting these jobs done immediately. She was limited to making this new property her “home away from home” on the weekends, when she would physically travel up to the new property and get to work.
However, who says you have to do the entire to-do list yourself… especially when fun weekends on the water are waiting on your progress? Like anyone eager to start living that “Lake Life”, she hired a painting crew from the Wisconsin area to work on the house while she was still in Chicago. Before she could move in, the entire home needed wallpaper removed and a fresh new coat of paint along with some other odd jobs.
As she orchestrated the long distance to-do list with the crew, we eagerly took notes of her journey…what she learned, what she would do differently, and what worked to make this potentially stressful process a smooth one.
Not all of us have the luxury of owning a second home, however, some of us will be moving long distance and could seriously benefit from these lessons. Whether you’re working on a second property from afar or just prepping your new home without physically being there, here is a list of quick tips to help you and your team work effectively, efficiently, and most importantly, accurately:
1. Do Your Homework
You can never be too prepared or too informed when it comes to planning from afar! Make sure you do your research on your contractor, your project list, your budget… all of it and MORE! The more you know, the more you can plan for, which will hopefully result in the headaches you can avoid throughout this process.
2. Hire a Trustworthy Contractor
This person will not only be working on your property unattended, but he will most likely be in charge of opening and closing the property each day. Hiring a trustworthy contractor will not only to protect your property, but will ensure the job gets done right.
3. Let your new neighbor(s) know what to expect
Telling a few neighbors what will be happening on the property while you are not there will help them keep a watchful eye on your hired team. Not that they are in charge of babysitting your house, but it’s always helpful to have an extra set of eyes on the scene.
You may also want to leave this individual your contact information just in case they need to get a hold of you.
4. Get a contract and be as specific as possible
Getting a contract on file is a good idea no matter what work you hire out. But having one that details the costs, details of the work that needs to be done, and payment will make sure that everyone is on the same page and clear of the expectations prior to beginning.
5. Create a Timeline
Along with the contract, it’s also very important to identify specific deadlines on what jobs will be done by each deadline. If you’re working on a tight timeline because of furniture being delivered, move-in day or just because you want the work to be DONE, be sure to communicate these needs to the team. Communication is key in making sure the timeline is realistic and attainable.
As the team works on your property, they are bound to have questions or decisions that need to be made by you. To facilitate the discussion and ensure both you and the contractors are talking about the same location/item in the house, you should tape a piece of paper with the room’s “name” on each door.
When the painter calls you to confirm that he is painting the ‘guest room’ sky blue, it’s important that you are both talking about the same ‘guest room’, especially if there are a few bedrooms in your new place. No one wants to arrive at the property only to find ALL of the paint colors are in the wrong rooms. #backtosquareone
When it’s finally time to move in to your new property, it’s a good idea to change your locks. Even with a trustworthy contractor and a great team of workers, you never know who had that key before you purchased the property and to us, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
No matter what, when you’re working from afar (especially on construction projects) mistakes are bound to happen and problems may arise. It’s important to be prepared for these “unexpected hurdles” and keep your eye on the prize.
At the end of this process, you will have a new home sweet home that you l-o-v-e. You can do this!