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  • Writer's pictureJulie Fergus

Advice for Newbies - DIY Pre-Season Prep

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Being in control of your vacation rental is the most important element for a successful venture. I have been a DIY vacation rental owner for sixteen years with multiple properties so I can offer advice and insight for those that are going to DIY.

Screen Replacement

There are many successful VR owners that do not DIY, they have property managers. This is a great option for those that live far from their properties, don't have time to manage, or are only in it for the investment. There is an option for those that have the time, and ability, to manage every aspect of the vacation rental. I feel strongly that those that do get great reviews and build repeat business.

However, DIYers have to be somewhat handy. There are times when something has to be fixed in a short timeframe or on a turnover day, like the screen above. It is not a hard task, just needs to done. It is quicker to do something like this yourself than to leave it at a hardware store for repair. So let's get into it the aspects of DIY.

Let me share my experience as a DIYer. Until 2020 I had three house rentals plus an RV rental which I managed hands-on style along with my husband. [We took advantage of the real estate market and sold two in 2020] Now I have one cottage and an RV rental. I know first-hand the juggling act it takes to keep properties running well, having happy guests, and getting great reviews.

My rental is a mainly summer resort area where I have weekly rentals with Saturday turnovers all of July and August. Other times of the year the rentals are weekends, long weekends, and a week here and there without back to back turnovers.

I have found it extremely difficult to find a cleaner. I have tried, I won't go into all that I have tried, but I can confidently say that all of my efforts including advertising resulted in a big fat zero. So I continue to do the cottage cleaning myself. I'm not thrilled about it, but I've done it for so many years I can crank through it like a well-oiled machine.

The most important aspect of a successful vacation rental is that it has to be clean. Clean, clean. Not just regular clean. Your guests are going to move furniture so area behind and under the furniture better be clean. Who is doing the cleaning? If it's not you, you will have to check on the cleaners work. (more on this in a future post). This is why I do it myself. If a reliable and detail-oriented person or team can not be found, you must do it yourself.

Here are examples of DIY for seasonal prep.

Getting ready for the season requires a lot of cleaning. And once again, finding someone to hire for this task in my area is impossible. So out comes the hose and Clorox Bleach Foamer.

Scrub Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture gets scrubbed when brought out for the season. It also requires regular cleaning during the season. I use a kitchen scrub brush and a hose during the season. Bleach Foamer might be needed on the plastic chairs as mildew can build up.

I use this on faucets, toilets, countertops, and other surfaces. This is great to get coffee rings off of painted furniture surfaces. This is great for refrigerator gaskets too. The foaming action is what makes it easy to apply, it is helps cling to vertical surfaces.

Here's another use for the bleach foamer. Fans! You have to clean the fans! Cleaners will likely never clean the fans. I take them all apart at the beginning of the season and clean thoroughly. And usually have to do this during the busy summer season. I will tackle one fan each turnover once the season gets in full-swing since it requires extra time.

Yearly tasks that I do myself. I sound like a broken record, but it is hard to find someone to do very small projects in the timeframe needed like this yearly deck maintenance. This pressure treated wood deck gets beat up every year because it is has roof run off that just beats the deck. So I wait until a warm day and scrape. Then I re-stain the entire deck for a fresh clean surface.

Scrape and Restain

It's not a big job, it's just tedious. Clean furniture and umbrella and it's good as new. Weekly cleaning will keep this looking good all season.

In your area you may be able find and hire people to help with these task which is great. However, you must micromanage them. Or you may have to do some touch up after their work. It is imperative that your property be presented to your guest in the cleanest shape possible.

Not photographed must-do tasks:

  • pull beds away from the wall and dust baseboard and vacuum under it

  • vacuum and dust behind and under furniture

  • vacuum behind wall mounted TVs

  • dust and wipe wire closet shelves

  • clean all window sills

  • wipe down screens and patch any tears or holes

Be confident that you can do these tasks yourself. It may be challenging if you have a full-time job but it is possible if your job is flexible. The effort will be worth it.

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