As published in the Sunriver Scene December 2012       By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

 

Crowded airports, delayed flights, congested freeways and road rage drivers! Oh sure, you love the holidays, but there is little to celebrate about holiday travel if your stress doesn’t end once you reach your destination. Here are some tips to make your holidays as festive as they are relaxing.

Holiday Décor

Deck the halls the easy way. Delegate.

Holiday lights are a simple way to bring a festive look to your home. I always like to light up a few trees in the yards as well, either with the c-7 or c-9 traditional glass bulbs or the newer more efficient LED lights. LED lights have a bigger upfront cost, but the savings on the electrical bills is 80% over traditional bulbs. LED lights also last ten to fifteen years compared to a three- to five-year life span for traditional lights. Either way, I always suggest that my clients contract with a local installation company. The cost ranges from $2 to $4 a linear foot, which is cheap compared to the cost of slipping on a frosty roof or ladder. A quality company such as Holiday Help Christmas Lighting (541.679.2459) will not only install your lights, they’ll take care of them by replacing burned bulbs, installing timers, taking everything down after the season ends and storing the bulbs for next year.

Of course, you won’t want to ignore the inside of your home. If you’re not in a total DIY mood, tree and house decorating services are available from a number of people around town. You can have your tree delivered and set up in your home ready to decorate when you arrive. A basic six-foot pine tree with lights can run about $100 for setup and removal, though the cost will vary based on the size of the tree and how many lights are requested. A 12-foot pine can cost almost $1,000 if you want to go really wild with the LED lights and that’s before any decorations have been installed. Of course, those LED lights will last you for the next ten to fifteen years and you’ll make back some of that investment with the savings on your electric bill.

For that instant holiday atmosphere, you can have the tree and entire house decorated inside and out before you even get there. Having a tree decorated runs about $50 per hour plus the cost of ornaments. Expect to pay about $150 for a six-foot decorated tree (tree height and the number of ornaments both impact cost). If you’re looking to extend the holiday theme to the rest of your home, Pamela Armstrong of Bend Furniture will finish out the rest of the interior. She can even provide custom-made ornaments.

Gift Giving

You don’t have to shop ‘til you drop. You can shop online instead and have your purchases delivered to your front door. If your home is empty, work with your management company and have the boxes delivered to their offices and then dropped off at your home. Imagine how much easier it will be to travel when you don’t have to stuff a bunch of gifts in your luggage or car.

You don’t even have to pack paper or ribbon. You can get your packages wrapped in the Old Mill at Bend Santa Land by the professionals from Wrap, Paper, Scissors. You won’t have to lift a finger and your packages will look amazing. Talk about a stress-free holiday!

Bon Appétit the Easy Way

Feasting is a quintessential part of merry making. But as far as cooking goes, sometimes less is more. So why not hit the restaurant scene? The Visit Bend website has a great list of restaurants categorized by price, and they note which ones are open for the holidays. Go to www.visitbend.com/Bend_Oregon_Activities_Recreation/Restaurants_Food.  If you want to stay close to home, the Grill at Crosswater and Meadows at the Lodge are great locations for holiday meals—reservations are recommended. (My advice: make them early so you know you won’t be waiting in line during the busy holiday season.)

You can also order pre-prepped holiday meals from one of the high-end markets or local restaurants and then just heat and serve. For a look at just some of your options, check out:

All of these places will provide a ‘to go’ holiday meal, so you can pretend you fixed it yourself. In fact, Tate and Tate has a location in Bend where you can pick up all kinds of prepared meals to take home and feed the family throughout your stay. I love their casseroles that are homemade and can easily be passed off as my cooking.

Want to do your own cooking? Shopping Assistance is a great way to save time. Send your shopping list to your home manager and have them stock the refrigerator for you. Imagine how nice it will be to wake up in the morning and have the eggs and orange juice waiting for you, to say nothing of the rest of the goodies you’ve ordered. And here’s a concept, your turkey will even have time to thaw.

If you really want to indulge, hire a chef to come into your home and fix your meals this holiday. For a little bit more than going out to a fancy restaurant, you can enjoy meals at home without the hassle of shopping, prepping or even cleaning up. I recently hosted a getaway trip for friends and family. Cheryl McIntosh, The Good Apple (541.280.0086) did all the cooking and it was fabulous. The food was wonderful. The fact that I hadn’t had to go shopping and could spend my time with my loved ones instead of in the kitchen was a true gift. I also recommend Pure Ingredients Personal Chef (541.550.9220).

Happy Holidays!

However you prefer to celebrate the season, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and safe celebration, and a wonderful new year.

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays. com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays. com

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As printed in the August 2012 Sunriver Scene

By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

No one stays home all the time. Do you have a built-in system to cover you for accidents or emergencies? A guest breaks a faucet and doesn’t know how to shut off the water. A quick look at a list on the refrigerator will immediately show who to call for the repair and more importantly where the water shut off is. If you have an updated list posted that is.

Whether a caretaker is checking on the house, a guest or renter is staying there, or you and your family members are in residence, having an updated contact list can make the difference of solving the problem quickly or allowing more damage to occur while you try to identify the correct course of action. Depending on the type of problem, such as running water, waiting time could be costly. Hire a professional to take care of the details or identify all the trades and create a relationship for potential emergencies and regular maintenance.

Here is the Contact List I use for emergencies. You will want to fill in your blanks for things such as insurance, neighbor contacts, water shut-off and electrical panel locations;

 

Police Fire or Medical Emergency— 911
Sunriver Police Non-Emergency—– (541) 593-1014
Sunriver Fire Non-Emergency——- (541) 593-8622
Deschutes Sheriff Non-Emergency– (541) 693-6911
Water and Sewer (Sunriver Resort)- (541) 593-4197 or (541) 593-8034
Electric (Midstate Cooperative) —– (541) 536-2126 or (541) 536-2165
Natural Gas (Cascade)————— (888) 522-1130 or (800) 426-0242
Garbage——————————- (541) 382-6660
Sunriver Owners Association——– (541) 593-2411
Sunriver Lodge ———————- (866) 482-3909
Pest Control (Alpine Pest)———– (541) 389-4942
Plumber (Bryan Young Plumbing)— (541) 317-5852
Tree Removal (Spring River Tree)– (541) 526-7501
Snow Removal (Quality Irrigation)– (541) 593-0344
Road Conditions———————- www. tripcheck. com
Web Weather Cam——————- http://tinyurl. com/7qbz9fx
Your Insurance Agent—————-  
Your Alarm Company—————-  
House Caretaker (Home Fridays)— (541) 317-3088
Neighbor——————————  

Electrical Panel Location————–

Water Shut-Off Location————–

It is not enough to keep your personal list is up to date, you also want to make sure those people who might need to provide you with emergency or other service have the most current information related to you home. When a neighbor spots a broken window at your house and wants to let you know,  a call to Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) can quickly get a message to you as long as your contact information is current. So set your mind at ease and make sure your emergency contacts are up to date with SROA. You actually get a twofer with this update since both SROA as the Sunriver Police Department use the same database of owner information. Update your information by calling SROA (541)593-2411.

Of course there is only so much you can do when you are dealing with a vacation home from afar. How do you cover issues when you are not around?  I had one homeowner who had planned to fly over from the East Coast to take care of a ‘cold alert’ alarm. He was right to worry about the possibility of broken pipes, but I told him to sit tight and let me handle it.   The money he saved by not having to miss work or purchasing last minute plane reservations more than paid for my charges.  It is hard to handle emergencies when you are far from Sunriver but help is available.

Having a local caretaker will simplify the emergency plan for your home. A good caretaking company will have established relationships with all the vendors and be able to prioritize your emergency repairs if needed. It also simplifies the list of who to call when something happens. One simple call to your caretaker should get everything resolved. Take a little time and line up your caretaking team. Hiring a professional to take care of the details, protect your property and manage its maintenance can put the vacation back in your home.

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.  com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays. com

 

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Posted on May 23, 2012 in Disasters, VRBO by ShannonNo Comments »

The latest buzz heard around Bend and Sunriver is about break-ins to unoccupied homes. A group of squatters actually moved into a Sunriver home for the winter, rearranged the furniture, took out some walls and made themselves at home. The unwanted guests moved the ping pong table from downstairs to the upstairs and couches outside. The owners arrived for vacation and found a trashed and damaged home as they watched the squatters run out the back door!

Another home in Bend was damaged when someone broke in and left the hot water running full blast in the sinks. Yikes on that heating bill and water damage repair.

Both homes have near-by neighbors and still nothing was reported or even looked amiss.

Just a few more reasons you really want to have someone reliable watching over your home and a good security system never hurts. A weekly home check would easily have prevented the amount of damage to the Sunriver home. The Bend home is under surveillance and the promblems were caught and quickly contained. Keep an eye out for my next column in the Sunriver Scene – To Arm or Not To Arm. Give me a call if you need help with your Central Oregon home.

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Posted on February 23, 2012 in Disasters, VRBO, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

Yesterday was a cold winter day in Bend.  A clients guests called and asked me to get their hot tub repaired.  As she explained the problem to me – I almost dropped the phone.
Here is the conversation.

 

Guest – “When I used the hot tub last week it was fine.  But when I went to turn it on last night half
the water was gone.  I think it has a leak.”

 

Me – “What do you mean when you say you turn it on?”

 

Guest – “It has been working just fine and we did notice the water getting a little lower.  But now it is draining really fast and is half empty.”

 

Me – “Is the heater still going?  Did you add water?”

 

Guest – “Oh, no it was off and we didn’t turn it on when we saw the water was out.”

 

Me – “What does off mean? Are you just lowering the temperature when not using it?”

 

Guest – “Oh no we just pull the outside breaker when we are not using it.”

 

Me – “So the motor is off and you heat it up when you want
to use it?   You do know that
temperatures outside freeze overnight.
You have probably frozen all the parts of the hot tub and they have cracked
and are now leaking.  You never turn off
hot tubs, you just leave them alone.”

 

Guest – “Oh, we didn’t know, we never had a hot tub before.”

 

So when people ask me why they should have someone take care
of their home when they are away…. SO many reasons come to mind.  Here is a house that is occupied while the
owners are gone.  However, the guests
haven’t a clue of how to survive in this climate.

 

If you need help – give us a call, nothing surprises me
anymore.

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Posted on July 18, 2011 in VRBO by ShannonNo Comments »

Mistakes happen; it is how you handle those situations that really define you.  We recently had an owner double book his home.  That is two families trying to stay at the same house, at the same time.  This unfortunate situation resulted in one family with no place to stay for the night.  While Home Fridays, does not rent out homes or even book guests, we always do everything we can to help our owners and their guests.  The entire town was booked – several bike races in town, the height of summer, a busy night.  The closest available room was Klamath Falls!   After several hours of searching, we were able to find a great place for them to stay for the night.   The guests were satisfied, appreciative and ended up having a great time.  Thankfully, this situation does not happen often.  But nice to know if it occurs, we can figure it out!  Just another quick example of how Home Fridays can make a difference.

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Posted on May 8, 2011 in VRBO by ShannonNo Comments »

It is always nice for owners to have outside eyes watching while the home is rented – whether we are ‘nudging’ the guests to follow the departure guidelines or taking pictures of damage to help in security deposit refunds.  There are many ways that Home Fridays can help.

What is VRBO? We have a few owners who rent out their homes through www.VRBO.com  or www.homeaway.com .  These sites and others allow owners to rent the houses out themselves.  This is a great option to bring in a little extra cash and still have the house available when you want to use it.  It also gives owners control over who will be staying in the home.

How Can Home Fridays Help? Home Fridays acts as their local eyes and ears.  We manage the house while empty taking care of the annual and monthly maintenance items.  Prep it for visitors and check for damage and have the house cleaned and restocked upon guest departure.  If anything should come up during the visit we are here to handle the emergencies.

What Happens Prior To Check In? Prior to guests check-in we will make sure the house is prepped, stocked and the inventory sheet is current. 

  • Prep includes getting the temperature correct, turning up the water heater, turning on the ice maker and making sure everything is guest ready.
  • Stocked includes making sure the toilet paper, gas grill, soaps, shampoos and all fully stocked.
  • The Inventory Sheet is custom to each house and defines the specifics for each house (how many keys, pool passes, towels, etc.).  This helps to quickly define any missing items or damage when guests check out.

 

What Happens After Check Out?  After check-out we get the house cleaned and do a review of the inventory to assess damage to home or identify any missing items. 

What about issues during the guests stay?  Home Fridays staff the phone 24/7 in the event of an emergency we are there to assist the guests.  In the past we have helped guests who are lost, have misplaced their keys or experienced A/C failure, just to name a few.

How does the house get cleaned?  Our trusted cleaning crews are scheduled to clean the house, take care of laundry and restock (toilet paper, shampoo, etc.).

How does the house get restocked with supplies?  Typically we have access to an ‘owners closet’ filled with extra toilet paper, towels, soaps and such.  If anything runs out, we will run to the store and the owners will be charged for the restocked items.

Do my guests contact Home Fridays for check-in?  We setup lock boxes for the guests to use upon arrival. 

Do guests contact Home Fridays for check-out? Upon departure we encourage the guests to call and let us know they are leaving.  This lets the guests communicate any issues that might have arisen during the stay (such as a burned out light bulb or a broken bowl). 

If you are looking for some help with your vacation rental in Central Oregon please contact Home Fridays.

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