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Closing a Florida Home for Summer

Posted by Kimberly Varney on May 1, 2015
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It’s that time of year again. My contemporaries are heading north. They’re opening summer houses in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Southampton. I’ll return to LA. There are only a few here in Miami who haven’t already left. Those of us who manage waterfront houses have a bit more to do than mainland properties or luxury condos.

The extreme humidity and potential for mold is high. And there’s the threat of hurricanes. As a preventative measure, anything irreplaceable is removed and stored. We’re using Museo Vault for my Principal’s art and wine and have sent the boat to Merrill Stevens for season maintenance and dry dock. The cars have been shipped home in enclosed shipping containers via First Class Auto Transport in Ft. Lauderdale. Everything else is thoroughly cleaned, repaired if needed and left in a state of ready.

The house will actually be used a few times over the summer, as the grown children bring their families for beach weeks or as a starting point for the guy’s fishing trips. Many houses however, will be shuttered and locked down until October. It’s always a rather sad time. All the life has left. It’s easier to leave Miami when winter’s over, as it’s already 100 degrees, than it is to leave Nantucket at the end of summer, but still an end of an experience.

Every house will have different needs and experienced estate managers will have their own checklists and SOPs for end-of-season. If this is your first rodeo, head to the Palm Beach County website. They have tips and checklists on everything from mold prevention to cleaning the air ducts. Here’s their closing checklist. You can find more at their website.

Closing Your Florida Home Checklist

The following list is designed to assist you in preparing to close your home for the season. Some procedures may apply to your situation, others may not. Use this list as a guide to check off those tasks of greatest concern to you. The rationale for the procedures listed below are explained in the following pages.

Three (3) Weeks Prior to Leaving:

Make an appointment to have air conditioning system serviced (this should be done once a year).

Have air conditioning service professional calibrate humidistat.

Call telephone company to temporarily suspend service during your absence.

Review homeowners insurance policy and update, if necessary.

Determine what method(s) you will use to control relative humidity inside your home and/or control fungal growth.

Seek a trusted friend or relative to check on your home or act in your behalf.

Arrange for landscaping maintenance.

Arrange to close shutters and/or prepare home in the event of a hurricane threat.

Two (2) Weeks Prior to Leaving:

Purchase timers for lamps, radio or other appliances.

Arrange to forward mail.

Arrange for cancellation of newspapers, magazines.

Run air conditioning on humidistat settings to test reliability. It should run at least two hours out of every 24 hours.

Purchase desiccants, if needed.

Begin cleaning with fungicidal products to remove existing fungal spores.

One (1) Week Prior to Leaving:

Clean refrigerator and freezer. Eat food on hand.

Check operation of dehumidifier, if you choose to use one.

Place in central location.

Secure continuous drain.

Vacuum upholstered furnishings to get rid of mold spores.

Remove interior plants and exterior plants in pots and containers.

Eat food in the food cabinets or plan to give away or discard. Do not keep herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil, etc. You may, however, keep spices such as cinnamon, curry, nutmeg, etc. and all canned products.

On the Day of Departure:

Empty refrigerator and freezer; disconnect and leave door slightly ajar.

Run 1 dozen ice cubes and 2 or 3 tablespoons baking soda in the garbage disposal to clean blades.

Empty dishwasher.

Set timers on lights.

Drain and disconnect water heater.

Strip bedding.

Cover drains with stopper and duct tape.

Cover and seal toilets.

If using chemical mildew inhibitors, cover air passages with 2 ml thick plastic.

Set burglar alarm.

Check air conditioning for accurate settings.

Set off insect “bombs” or “foggers”, if desired.

Lock doors and secure exterior.

*I also always let the security company know when we’ve gone and schedule the housekeeper to send weekly reports. if you won’t have staff on hand, it’s worth hiring someone to come in weekly. One leak or a broken A/C can be a be a disaster.

Kimberly Varney
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Kimberly Varney

Kimberly draws on her 20+ years of Celebrity Real Estate Management experience with Hollywood A-Listers, World-class Athletes, and Fortune 500 CEOs to deliver exceptional service and exceed client expectations. Clients seek her expertise in buying properties, moving, hiring and training staff, and creating home management systems.

Currently serving the sports and entertainment industry working on the east coast, Kimberly’s focus is expert management of ‘on-location’ and transitional experiences for these high profile individuals. Working with Production Coordinators, Estate Managers, Agents, and Personal Assistants, she strives to make the relocation process, whether long term or short term, as painless as possible.

For those who chose to add a property to their portfolio, Kimberly serve as an owner’s representative in the design and renovation process and then can map out a successful management plan and put in place experienced staff to facilitate the new systems. Recent projects include a significant portfolio of historic and newly constricted estate properties ranging from 6,000 to 33,000 square feet, often with multiple support structures and extensive grounds.
Kimberly Varney
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