There is a lot of competition for great house sitting assignments. The market seems to be getting more and more crowded every day as people learn about the benefits of being a house sitter. This can make landing an assignment more challenging and also make it difficult to know when to say no to a housesitting job. You may be tempted to compromise on knowing all the details about an assignment before committing to a homeowner. This can lead to serious disappointment or finding yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
We have learned how not asking the right questions can make a house sit an unpleasant experience. We now know there are things every house sitter should insist on having before accepting any housesitting job. If a homeowner is unwilling or unable to produce answers to our questions or confirm important details about our responsibility our answer will always be no to accepting the job. Here are the things we need to be confirmed before we say yes and accept any house sitting assignment.
Current Photos of the Home and Property
I know, it seems obvious you shouldn’t accept an assignment without seeing pictures of the place. Sometimes homeowners will have reasons for not posting pictures on their listing like their house is undergoing a renovation and they will post pictures later or they will forward pictures via email instead and never do. You absolutely must ask for as many photos of the home (inside and out) and property as you can and make it clear to the homeowner you will not accept the job until you have seen current photos of the home and property.
Knowing before you go could be the difference between this…
What is your preference?
Outdated photos can also be a problem. They can make things look a lot better than they are present day. Current photos are the best way to eliminate misunderstandings and misconceptions. What a homeowner may think is acceptable living conditions could be vastly different from what you believe. A full kitchen to them could be a hot plate and a bar fridge and cleanliness standards can vary dramatically from one homeowner to the next as well.
We have had some homeowners give us tours of their homes on Skype. Seeing a home like this has definitely made us feel confident deciding if a housesitting job is right for us. This is now something we ask for in addition to photos for longer term house sits.
Firm Dates for the Assignment
We hadn’t been insistent on definite dates until we found ourselves having to pay more money for accommodation and transportation than we had wanted to spend. We didn’t get a commitment on dates from a couple of homeowners and both times it cost us money we could have avoided spending had we pressed the homeowner to commit to firm dates. Having to change flights and book hotels short notice can be expensive. Before you accept a housesitting job and book your flights make sure you have a commitment from the homeowner on firm dates for the assignment.
A Clear Role of Responsibility
We have committed to house sits not knowing the total amount of pets we would be looking after. Some were unique situations like one homeowner was a foster home for abused pets. I worried about not knowing all the details until the day we arrived for the assignment. Fortunately, it worked out well for us those times but now we insist on a well-defined role of responsibility before accepting any housesitting job. These things include total number of pets, expectations for the care of each pet (feeding, walking, medication administering) and how much the homeowner wants us to be with the pets like can they be left alone for certain periods so we can go explore or do we need to stay close to home at all times.
It is important to have a clear understanding of homeowners expectations because not doing so is a part of house sitting that can be fraught with misunderstanding. You can ask for these things in writing with a house sitting agreement, you can find a template here. You definitely need to understand the amount of work involved to know if you are willing and able to fulfill the homeowner’s expectations. You won’t know if you are on the same page as the homeowner if you don’t ask for a clearly defined role of responsibility.
Housesitting has been very rewarding for us. We have enjoyed so many benefits caring for homeowners lovely homes and cherished pets. Free accommodation is the clear benefit for house sitters, but the relationship is truly beneficial monetarily and emotionally for the homeowner as well. Kennels can be very expensive and traumatic for pets and insurance costs can go through the roof if a home is left empty. Homeowners can avoid the worry and financial burden of these things having a house sitter come and care for their home and pets.
If you are considering accepting a housesitting job you shouldn’t compromise on knowing important details about the assignment, doing so could cost you money and peace of mind. Confirming certain details will help you avoid committing to a housesit that’s not right for you. Make sure you have all of the information you need to be comfortable with a housesitting job and if you can’t get that from a homeowner you should say no, you will find another more suitable assignment.
If you have more questions about house sitting, I wrote a detailed post with answers to 20 of the most popular questions we are asked on the subject. You can check it out here.
For a more detailed guide to house sitting please feel free to sign up for our free e-course.