Cottage owners, rejoice! The most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching and it’s just a matter of weeks before you can reopen the cottage for the summer season. If you’re a seasoned cottage owner, opening and closing your vacation property every spring and fall is probably something you could do in your sleep. But if you’ve purchased a cottage this past winter and aren’t sure exactly what’s on your do-to list this spring, here’s a handy checklist to get things rolling:

Do a thorough walk-around and walk-through. Between the winter elements and wildlife, your cottage had a lot to fend off during the frosty season. Check window screens, the roof, chimney, soffits and siding for any signs of animal invaders. If you do see indication that something has made its way inside, proceed with caution – a cornered animal is dangerous. Check your deck, eavestroughs, siding, doors and windows to see how they faired the snow and ice. Inside, pay attention for smells of mould and mildew. If present, find the source and determine if it’s a job you can take care of yourself. Check the ceiling for evidence of water leaks and inspect cupboards, closets and dressers for any signs of mice.

Next, turn your attention to your mechanical systems – plumbing, heating/cooling and electrical. Turn on the power and check to make sure all light switches are functioning. Turn on your water system. Here are some step-by-step instruction for the priming the system if you’re in the dark: Turn on your hot water tank and finally, check your septic system. If you’re unsure of when the septic tank was last emptied, call a professional service to come in for an inspection.

If all of this sounds a little daunting, there are a number of services in cottage country that will take care of your spring opening and fall closing chores. If you’re a total newbie, it might be beneficial to hire a service for the first year, and be there while they complete the tasks, taking notes for next year when you can tackle the job yourself.