Cottage Opening Checklist For A Successful Opening

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 @ 10:41am

If you are like me, you have been looking forward to getting on your boat, entertaining on your deck, or opening up your cottage for a few months now. Luckily it’s almost cottage season but before you get your boat out, fire up that grill, there are a few jobs you need to tackle first. Here are my top 5 tips for opening up your cottage the right way.

Clean Your Cottage’s Eavestroughs

If you’ve read my article about 10 tasks for your winter home maintenance checklist you would have been diligent about clearing the eavestrough before every winter.  The same goes for your cottage. Debris will start to accumulate and clog those eavestroughs. Get a ladder and SAFELY clean your gutters.

Remember: Use the 4:1 rule when using a ladder.


Inspect for Rodents Living in Your Cottage

Most cottage owners have the unpleasant surprise of having unwanted intruders in their summer home. You’ll want to be on the lookout for obvious signs of unwanted entry — things like holes in your soffits, and torn window screens. Animals can even pull away siding and find their way through your roof venting or even your chimney.

Even something as small as a mouse can cause big issues. These small rodents can eat away at the wood in your home or chew through electrical wires. If you notice any of your electrical wires have been chewed up, call your local licensed electrician! An electrician needs to check your electrical system and make sure it’s safe. Remember, electrical work should not be DIY.

After finding signs of unwanted entry you’ll want to remove these unwanted tenants — to do this, it’s best to bring in a professional pest control expert. Because believe me, you want them evicted before they reproduce and cause an infestation. When it comes to finding signs of mice, you’ll want to spray the area where they were located with a disinfectant.


When you are cleaning up after your unwanted guests, it’s good to keep those dirty particles from floating around, because if you were to breathe in materials from their droppings or saliva can make you sick. And always wear a disposable mask and gloves to reduce the risk of contact.

Check Your Cottage’s Indoor Air Quality

I’m glad to see more and more homeowners paying attention to their indoor air quality and having it tested for mold and radon. You should do the same at your cottage. It’s always important to maintain your indoor air quality in your cottage because it was closed up all winter with very little or no ventilation.

Since you’re now back in the cottage, you’ll need to first start off by opening up the windows. Air it out.

You’ll need your nose for this step. If you notice a strong musty smell, it could mean a moisture problem — and lots of moisture could lead to a mold problem. You need to stop the source of moisture before anything else because if you don’t you’ll be dealing with mold problems again and again. If it’s a small area, you can most likely clean it yourself — just make sure you have proper cleaning equipment and solution (goggles, gloves, and a respirator or mask). But, if the mold area is large, you need to bring in a remediation expert. 

Simple Fixes in Your Cottage


Mike & Mike Jr Windows Caulking

Inspect the caulking around your doors and windows. Broken caulking leaves the perfect entryway for water to seep in, and it’s an easy fix.


Same with the weather stripping around doors – if it’s damaged, it’s simple to fix but when you leave it unrepaired, then you’re giving it access to water penetration.

Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries every 6 months and replace detectors every 10 years. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every floor of your home and make sure to test alarms every month by pushing the test button.

Restoring Electricity To Your Cottage

One flip of your light switch is all you need to do right? Well, it’s actually better for your cottage to take it room by room. Before flipping the switches in every room, you should check if everything is working as it should on a room-per-room basis. Check for flickering lights, a burning smell from appliances, or any sparking fixtures.

Next, you’ll want to switch the water back on. Again do this by going room by room. You’ll want to be looking for any leaks while doing so. And last but not least, test your HVAC system and change the air filter.

Inspect Your Cottage Deck

Before having family and friends over — make sure you are checking your deck thoroughly. That means the railings, steps, and ledger board (the piece of the deck that holds the structure to the building), it all needs to be safe and secure. Also, check for dry rot or damage caused by insects on your decking material.


If you’re unsure of what you should be looking at, a licensed home inspector can help you point out areas of concern.

You might be only at your cottage for half the year and only on weekends, which might not be much, but it’s still your home away from home during the summer. Also, keep in mind, that the longer you’re away from your cottage, the more landscape maintenance you’ll need to do. Never slack on your regular maintenance because cottage season goes by so fast but you still need to treat it like your home — make it right and make it safe. 


If you rent out your cottage, I HIGHLY recommend installing a smart lock. A keyless entry system is great for cottages because you don’t have to physically wait around to hand over the key to someone and you can remotely ensure that they are checking out at the predetermined check out time. You can also have an access code created for the cleaning staff or anyone else who needs access to the property.



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