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house-sitters: how to make them happy?

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  • house-sitters: how to make them happy?

    I have my first house-sitter coming to take care of my critters for an extended period of time. Any tips on how to make them happy to make sure they leave happy and return another day?

    I have set things up in the barn so they are as easy as possible and take as little time as possible. I have told the horses to refrain from attempting suicide while I'm gone. I've sat the dogs down and had discussions about being on their best behavior. I have asked the cat not to vomit as much as she usually does.

    On other threads, people have mentioned stocking the fridge... with what? Should I ask the house-sitter what they would prefer? I don't want to assume they like the 2% milk I drink by the gallon full...

    Also, should I include a tip when I get back? The house-sitter set the price; I just asked her what she thought would be fair, because she came recommended from a trusted source.

  • #2
    Yes definately find out what she likes to eat...don't stock the frig with what you assume she might like. I farm sat for people who were,well, sort of health nuts...I was starving! I had to go out in a blizzard to get in some real food, and while I was there, they closed the roads! I had to drive around the barrier in my car and buck huge snowdrifts to get back... I couldn't leave 50 + horses with no care!
    So food is a biggy and perhaps a couple of nice bottles of wine...enough blankets if its cold (ask me how I know this too) and a good list of Phone #'s in case of disaster (vet, plumber, snow plow guy and so on)
    And a nice tip and a gift from wherever you were would be nice!


    • #3
      Yes, ask the house sitter what food she prefers & then stock accordingly.

      Make sure to provide a guest account on the computer for safe online access.

      Write up a list of how to work tv/dvr/vhs/cable/roku/whatever you have.

      Write up everything, from how much to feed who, to who to contact for what.

      I don't tip with money; I assume her rate has been set fairly However, I always bring home some kind of a gift. My sitter has been with us a few years, so I know what sorts of food treats are appreciated. Also, on our pre-trip walkthrough, I cook dinner for her.
      ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~


      • #4
        Tip well! If the sitter does a nice job and you tip well when you get home, I am sure that would make them most likely to return. Other than that, I would just suggest really having things organized and spelled out well for them.


        • #5
          Yes, for sure ask the sitter what they like to drink/eat and have it on hand.

          Along with what has been listed above, make sure you have a number available for emergency back up help. A friend who if there is a true emergency will be able to be another set of hands.

          Make sure you spell out carefully the things that really matter to you. If Fido can not have table scraps, make sure you tell the sitter this and the reason. If having the aisle kept clean is important then list it as something to be done, so not assume the sitter knows it is important.


          • #6
            Oh, one more thing: if you have nosy neighbors, pre-warn them that your house sitter will be there & who she is! And let your sitter know the busybodies have been advised.

            You don't need your sitter hassled!
            ~ Horse Box Lovers Clique ~


            • #7
              Food is nice, and good coffee is great. Instructions for all the tv/vcr/etc. stuff. WIRELESS or the equivalent, so they can hook up their own computer and work from your place, as needed. Don't forget the access code for your wireless - that weird number you hope you remembered to write down when you set it up - if your wireless is secure. Tip off your house sitter if your satellite internet goes down a lot or is slow; they can make plans to go to the library or coffee shop instead.

              Phone numbers for everyone on earth, all the heating/cooling/well/septic/electrician/plumber/satellite/snowplow/tractor repair people. A neighbor, especially if runaway dogs go to anyplace predictable. Leave your truck and trailer hooked up, if you would want them to use it in an emergency, so they don't have to mess around with an unfamiliar rig in the dark.

              How do you want them to fix a broken fence if a tree limb crashes down on it? call a fencing repair person/place? baling twine? something else? :-) Leave some tools handy, or at least point out the workbench when you show them around.

              If you leave the house really clean, I (your housesitter) would be likely to want to leave it exactly as clean as I found it. If you don't mind the dust bunnies under the couch, they'll still be there when you return! On the other hand, you could skip the tip and save me an hour or two by scheduling your cleaning lady for the day you return. Nobody has ever done that, but I can wish...

              If you have preferences about the house sitter having guests while you're gone, make them clear up front -- for example, "feel free to invite a friend over for dinner if you want - I realize it gets sort of lonely out here all by yourself." I'm never sure how to ask that question when I take a new job, so I usually wait for the person to mention it. If your house sitter is young and there's the potential for more social activity than you'd prefer, make that clear in the beginning as well. :-)


              • #8
                If there are any tricks to get things to work, let them know. There's nothing like finding out the hard way that the front door locks when you turn the key away from the door jamb instead of towards it, or that the alarm will beep occasionally for no reason. Some things are easy to forget when your used to them.


                • #9
                  Oh, and tell various extended family that you'll be away and that someone is staying at the house. I had a lovely long chat with a rather tipsy Auntie So-and-So one time who thought I was the niece...


                  • #10
                    All very good tips! Ihave been doing quite a bit of housesitting in the last year and I think everything is covered. Make sure there is stuff to handle power outages and every phone number you can think of.
                    And yes, one time the folks were health nuts....there was only squirrel food! LOL
                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                    • #11
                      If you can't be reached right away, make sure to let the sitter know what other methods to use. When my BO is away, she's sometime unreachable by phone. I know that I can shoot her an e-mail when things go pear shaped and that makes me feel a lot better.

                      Clean sheets and towels out in the bathroom is always something that is nice to do as well. I always felt weird digging around in someone else's closet looking for towels or clean sheets.

                      I agree with stocking up the fridge. It's a nice gesture, and one that is appreciated!

                      And please, for the love of pete, don't be those people who leave their... er... canoeing paddles and life vests on the night stand. Yea. Been there. Nothing like the cat knocking a bottle of... yea... on your head at 2am.


                      • #12
                        I don't tip my farm sitter, I do pay her in cash before I leave in case she needs the money for something while I am gone. I can always reimburse her for anything extra when I get home. I did ask her about what she eats (vegetarian), and stocked the fridge for the first time for her, but she didn't touch a thing... so I stopped doing that. I leave instructions for care, phone numbers in case of emergency, and of course freshly cleaned sheets in the guest bedroom. I also try to make things as easy as possible for her.
                        Welcome to my dressage world http://www.juliefranzen.blogspot.com/


                        • #13
                          Wow you guys are all lovely! I house sit semi-frequently and would never expect anyone to stock the fridge to my liking! I'm always invited to eat whatever I want, of course, but I usually bring a bunch of boxes of mac and cheese and whatnot.

                          Fresh sheets on the bed, please! I do laundry/vacuum before I go, and will second the person who said that your house will likely be left how it was found if it's really gross. I'm not a maid.

                          The more phone numbers the better, and I'm not opposed to an "emergency credit card" left behind in case the heater goes out or something....a lot of servicemen want payment up front. Same with vets.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GoForAGallop View Post
                            The more phone numbers the better, and I'm not opposed to an "emergency credit card" left behind in case the heater goes out or something....a lot of servicemen want payment up front. Same with vets.
                            I always leave a 'permission to treat' letter which gives the pet sitter permission to authorize vet care that I will pay for on my return. Since I have always paid my vet bills (at the time of service) no vet has ever had a problem with this.
                            I can not imagine leaving an open credit card.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                              I always leave a 'permission to treat' letter which gives the pet sitter permission to authorize vet care that I will pay for on my return. Since I have always paid my vet bills (at the time of service) no vet has ever had a problem with this.
                              I can not imagine leaving an open credit card.
                              If you are trusting this person to watch your house and animals, I cannot imagine why you WOULDN'T feel comfortable leaving a credit card? I'm not saying out on the kitchen table, but just a "If you need it, it's in the office drawer upstairs."

                              That's fine that your vet will accept deferred payment....mine will too. But the emergency vet will not (even though they know me and I have spent many thousands there) and any plumber/oil guy/roofer/what have you that you need to call in is likely not going to bill.


                              • #16
                                Leave a spare key to anything locked. (Tell them where the spares are hidden, but obviously, don't write it down.)

                                Be sure to alert them to any animal quirks -- the equine escape artist, the dasher dog, the animals that do not get along.

                                Don't assume anything. Go overboard with written instructions, especially with meds.
                                They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                                • #17
                                  My experience (so far, knock on wood) is that when I've had an emergency bad enough to need to pay the plumber, emergency vet, etc. I've been able to speak with the people by phone somewhere along the line and they have given me, or the provider, the credit card number. It's a legitimate concern if you're going to be out of the country or unreachable for some reason. I was very glad not to have to put the $750 emergency vet clinic bill on my credit card, but I probably would have done it if I'd had to. A workaround might be to arrange with a close family member that if the homeowner can't be reached, the house sitter can call that family member who has the card number and can provide it to the vet clinic, plumber, etc as needed. As the house sitter, I'd rather not have there be any question at all, ever, that a future card fraud could have been traced back to a time when I was in charge of the house.


                                  • #18
                                    Food, and, especially, coffee, as already mentioned. Instructions on how to work appliances (dishwasher, laundry, entertainment stuff...). Name and password for the wireless router if you have one, you can always change the password later.

                                    Directions to nearest grocery store, bank, PO, mall, etc... Some takeout restaurant menus are good too, in case your sitter doesn't cook, or doesn't have time to one day. I keep menus from everything that delivers and is within reasonable driving distance in a drawer in my kitchen, for us, plus for guests and sitters.

                                    You could leave your credit card info with the vet themselves, in case there is an emergency and you can't be reached.


                                    • #19
                                      Clean house I like to have all clean bedding, towels stacked up clean. Food, usually some quick dinner, mac & cheese, homemade soup, lots of hagen daaz, a bottle of wine, plenty of coffee.

                                      I stack all pet food in one area, write of list of everything-including things that don't work. I pay $50.00 a day and no horse chores, barn can handle that.

                                      Edit: I always have them come over if they are first time sitters before sitting.


                                      • #20
                                        I house sit sometimes. What I like-

                                        A list of phone numbers for the vet, farrier, repairman, other services.

                                        Clean sheets and towels left in an easy to find place. Kitchen stocked with basics (milk, bread, eggs)

                                        A plan for who gets what food. (The last person I house sat for laminated a sheet and hung it in the feed room.)