Caring for your home away from home

When should you hire others to care for your property?

Owning a second home in Whistler grants you the security of knowing you will always have a place to stay when you come to visit. But having the second home isn’t as responsibility-free as staying in a hotel.

No one does your laundry, picks up the slice of pizza you left out, or cleans the shower — unless you pay them to do it. That’s what Tom Pressello has done for a number of years.

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A Whistler homeowner who resides in Vancouver and vacations with his family in Whistler several weekends a year, Pressello employs four individuals to look after his property while he is away: a security company, a housekeeper, a contractor and a landscaper. In the winter the landscapers employ a snow clearing company.

“Often you need somebody to be able to get into the house to be able to check the house if something happens, like the smoke detector goes off, or the fire department is called, or there’s flood detection, or the burglar alarm goes off. Whatever we need, we still need somebody to go there that you can trust to have access to your house,” he said.

And while it may seem that he has a lot of people looking after his house, Pressello said it is worth it for the headache reduction alone.

Last winter, Presello’s house flooded. A pipe cracked and filled a portion of the house with water. Fortunately, he was already on his way to Whistler when the flooding occurred.

“I opened up the basement door and saw water,” said Pressello. “There was two or three inches of water.”

The damage was extensive, with repairs to the carpet, flooring, drywall and woodwork. He and his family had to store their belongings elsewhere while the repairs were being done.

“It was a tremendous amount of inconvenience,” said Pressello.

After the flood, Pressello installed an auto-water shut off system, which is connected to the security company.

“Should the flood detector detect that there is water flooding in the house, (Providence Security) has the ability to remotely shut it off,” he said.
Flooding isn’t the only thing to worry about when you’re out of town. There are also broken dishwashers, malfunctioning stoves, toilets that don’t work properly, or burned out lightbulbs.

“I always seem to have something broken perpetually in the house,” said Pressello.

For that, Pressello employs a contractor who goes in and fixes minor repairs. He uses a contractor who has done work with him previously.

And then there is the general issue of cleanliness. As Pressello stated, “It comes down to whether you want to go skiing on Sunday or stick around and do the dishes, laundry, and clean the house.”

For Pressello, with a full family, his need to arrive in Vancouver at a decent hour outweighs the cost of hiring a housekeeper.

The housekeeper was the most challenging person to find.

“It’s really, really tough to find good people to do cleaning that you trust who are fair about their hours,” said Pressello.

Pressello ultimately found his housekeeper by posting an ad and then looking for candidates who worked in hotels.

“Chances are, they’ve had a criminal check done,” he said.

Pressello also liked that hotel employees had supervisors who could speak to their work ethics.

Although Pressello considered hiring a property service company, he wanted the caretakers of his home to be people he could build long-lasting relationships with. He also wanted to limit the number of people who were entering his home — something he found was not possible with a property service company.

“This is a family house,” he said. “We want people to respect our privacy.”

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