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Bloggers on assignment

How to Properly House Sit for Someone

by Terri Rimmer

It has been my experience house sitting that when you get asked to do so for someone, whether it be a friend or stranger, you treat their home as well as or better than your own. Believe it or not, many people do not apply this principle when they embark on a house-sitting venture. Before house-sitting for someone, meet with them first to go over everything in the house.

Ask these questions beforehand:

  1. Where is the fuse box in case the power goes out?
  2. Will there be any visitors expected and what are their names and numbers in case of an emergency?
  3. Where do they want their delivered mail placed?
  4. When is trash day along with if they recycle?
  5. Where you park (in the driveway or not)?
  6. What lights do they want left on?
  7. What blinds do they want up or down?
  8. Is there an alarm code and what is it, along with the password and alarm company phone number?
  9. If they have a pet sitter, what’s their name, number, and when they come? Also make sure they have your contact information.
  10. What is a neighbor’s name and number in case of emergency?
  11. What are their expectations of you?
  12. If they have an ice maker bucket, does it need to be emptied daily?
  13. Are there any problems with the house such as leaks; etc. that you should be aware of?
  14. Who has spare key in case of an emergency?

Here are some things that I do when house sitting that make the recipient most appreciative when they return from their trip, extra tasks you do for free that you might not have thought of to make their return home smooth and peaceful:

  1. If they’re a good friend, do their laundry, EXCEPT their delicates.
  2. Load, run, and unload dishwasher.
  3. Water plants (ask first if needed and when ahead of time).
  4. Return garbage cans once emptied on trash day back to their original spot.
  5. Do light housekeeping such as sweeping, vacuuming, emptying trashcans, change and wash any dirty towels, washcloths, and kitchen towels, wipe down the kitchen counters and stove, get rid of items in refrigerator such as moldy cheese and foods that are obviously past their prime, run garbage disposal if needed, empty any ashtrays, clean out lint trap of dryer, empty their recycling bin, clean their bathroom if needed.
  6. Pick up any debris that blows into yard.
  7. If the power goes out, reset the clocks if you know how.
  8. Check phone messages if they have asked and keep a log.
  9. If they’re out of or running low on a food item and you have extra money you can spare, buy it for them without expecting a refund.
  10. Leave a note regarding any leaks or damages you notice that were not there before you started house-sitting for them but ONLY call them out of town if it’s an emergency and the emergency person cannot handle it.
  11. Replace any burned out light bulbs if you know where they keep them.

Here are some things not to do when house-sitting. Some go without saying, of course, but you would be surprised how many people are inconsiderate and don’t adhere to them anyway:

  1. Don’t use up their printer cartridge.
  2. Don’t run electronic equipment you don’t know anything about.
  3. Don’t burn out their lights and not replace the bulbs if you know where they keep them.
  4. Don’t run up the phone bill.
  5. Don’t have other people over.
  6. Don’t disturb the neighbors.
  7. Don’t use all their laundry detergent and not replace it.
  8. Treat their belongings like gold.
  9. Don’t eat all their food without replacing it.
  10. Don’t be careless with the key or access code.
  11. Don’t leave clothes in washer or dryer if you do their laundry.
  12. Don’t leave garage or gates open.
  13. Don’t download things on their computer.
  14. Don’t “borrow” anything.
  15. Don’t run the heat or a/c on high.
  16. Don’t waste the water or electricity.
  17. Don’t leave the TV or stereo on.
  18. Don’t leave doors unlocked.
  19. Don’t tell a bunch of people who know where they live they’re going to be out of town.
  20. Don’t bother them out of town unless it’s an emergency you can’t handle.