Someone’s Living in My House

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How to Prepare Your House for Someone Else to Live In It

Preparing people about to live in your house for all its idiosyncrasies

What information do you need to provide to someone living in your house while you are away? This spring, a friend and my brother-in-law took turns staying a few days each in our house to dog-sit our two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels while we went on vacation. As we prepared information about the house, I became aware of all its idiosyncrasies. I am reminded of this again as we now prepare to hand our house over to family while we winter in Arizona.

There is the obvious basic information, such as the controls for heating and cooling, what day garbage is collected, where the breaker box is, and where to find additional supplies, such as light bulbs.

But there are also things that are unique to each house, things one has grown to live with, but can be foreign or disconcerting to someone else.

    • Leaving the bathroom door open too soon after showering sets off the upstairs smoke alarm.
    • The toaster often sets off the main level smoke alarm.
    • The fridge makes loud and strange noises, most noticeable at night.
    • The electric garage door sometimes sticks in the winter. We have a few tricks to deal with this.
    • The television in the living room is plugged into an outlet controlled by a light switch beside the front door. If you inadvertently turn that switch off, you’ll have a hard time figuring out why the television isn’t working.
    • The light on the left hand side of the stove is always on, whether an element is on or not.
    • The television in the family room gets different stations, more limited, than the one in the living room.
    • The top plug of every electrical outlet in the master bedroom is controlled by the light switch. Power is present only when the switch is on.
  • We’ve lived in the house 17 years and have no idea what the switch beside the kitchen sink is for. Maybe it was meant to connect to a garburator, but we don’t have one. Turning on or off the switch does nothing.

This spring, my husband photographed kitchen cupboards and copied the digital images into a document where he annotated what could be found where. This was probably not necessary. Our family and friends are smart enough to eventually find things.

What are the idiosyncrasies in your house?

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