by Robert Fox
Are you planning for a last minute summer vacation or thinking about escaping the cold weather to a southern climate this winter? Or, are you being temporary relocated out of the country for your job? While planning a vacation or getaway can be lots of fun, sometime the thought of leaving your home unattended can be overwhelming.
Installing a smart home security system is one option (and something you'll want to take time to decide on), and certainly if you're pinched for time you can spend some time securing your house before you leave, or you can go ahead and hire a home watch company to take care of everything for you.
- Good home watch companies create the illusion that your home is being lived in while you are away. They will bring in your mail and newspapers and remove advertising hangers that are left on your door. The company should vary the times that they are arriving at your home to avoid setting a pattern that could be identified by a burglar. A home watch company will make sure lights are turned on at night and that shades are not always either opened or closed. During their inspections they will check doors and windows to make sure there are no signs of break-ins. Home watch companies will also check to make sure that any third party contactors, like snow plow companies or landscapers, are performing their services as agreed upon in your contract.
- Problems with heating and cooling can lead to expensive utility bills upon your return. There are many stories of homeowners accidentally leaving a window cracked before leaving to winter in the south, only to return to find a furnace that spent months working overtime. While many people are tempted to just turn the furnace down extremely low when they are away, it can lead to burst water pipes that leads us to #3.
Water damage can be a major problem that you do not want to walk into after leaving your house vacant for an extended period of time. Water damaged left unchecked can lead to a buildup of mildew and toxic mold. When left untreated water damage can lead to thousands of dollars of damage. Many insurance companies will deny coverage of a claim if they find out that the home was left vacant. A contract with a home watch company can save you with your insurance company and by helping you to address the damage immediately.
It doesn't take long for rodents and insects to occupy a home that you have left vacant. No homeowner wants to return from an extended vacation to find mice or bugs in your home. During their scheduled inspections a home watch company will check for signs of pests and address any issues before you return. Rodents are notorious for chewing wires that can lead to electrical fires and malfunctioning HVAC systems.
What do you do if you can't take your favorite furry friend with you and don't want to place them in a kennel? Hire a home watch company that offers pet watching services. While this is an add-on service there are many home watch companies that will care for your pets as well as your home. Your pets are allowed to remain in the comfort of their own home while receiving quality care. The multiple stops that your home watch company makes to check your pet will add that much added protection of making your home appear lived in while you are on vacation.
Many homeowners feel there home is more secure by having an alarm system installed. While this can be helpful, if you are out of town you are unable to respond the check any alarms that are triggered, and that's where a home watch company comes in. Most home watch companies, for an extra charge, will respond to your security company 24 hours a day. This allows you to enjoy your vacation or time out of the country without being bothered by false alarms. Your home watch company will find out the details and if need be contact you with any serious problems.
Imagine returning from a vacation to a clean house that has a stocked kitchen. Many home watch companies offer concierge and cleaning services. You can be away from home for months and arrive to a neat and tidy home that is ready for you to relax and enjoy. Some home watch companies also provide grocery services where they will stock your kitchen with any supplies that you request prior to your return. This way you can avoid that dreaded trip to the grocery store when you are tired from travelling.
Many homeowners decide to have a neighbor check their house while they are on vacation, but this can lead to many problems. One homeowner who was working out of the country suffered thousands of dollars of water damage when a pipe burst during the middle of the winter. The snow was so heavy for several days so the neighbor did not stop in to check the house. The entire finished basement needed to be gutted and refinished due to the extensive water damage.
When hiring a Home Watch Company remember that they are not all equal. Here are the basics to check for when hiring a home watch company to keep an eye on your home while you are away:
Bonded and Insured - make sure the company is properly bonded and insured
Accredited - Look for companies that have taken extra steps in their industry. The National Home Watch Association provides accreditations to companies that meet a high level criteria of professionalism.
References - Ask for and contact references and check reviews. Word of mouth is the best resource for finding a legit home watch company.
Look for a home watch company that provides online reports so you can easily check on your house if you want. Many companies post a report and photos for you to check after each visit. This is an easy way to know they are doing the work they agreed to perform.
Give yourself peace of mind while you are away from home and hire a reliable accredited Home Watch company.
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.