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Winter maintenance for holiday homes - winter holiday cottage

As the nights draw in and the colder weather approaches, it’s important to consider the impact the change of season has on your holiday home. That’s why we’ve put together a selection of winter maintenance tips to get your holiday let winter ready. During the winter months when your property can be empty and exposed to extreme weather, implementing safety measures and precautions in preparation for what the elements have in store, will ensure that you avoid unnecessary damage to your holiday let.

With over 20 years of experience in letting and managing self-catering holiday accommodation in South Devon, Coast & Country Cottages are able to offer you advice on getting your holiday home ready for winter.

Lower Easton Farmhouse - winter maintenance


Use the quick links below to read about a particular subject, or continue reading for a complete breakdown of our top winter maintenance tips…


Keep your holiday let warm and cosy

Keeping your holiday let warm during and in-between your winter bookings will not only reduce the risk of burst pipes and damp occurring, but it will also allow your guests to have a cosy stay without feeling the chill of winter.

• Heating and ventilation

Untreated condensation and damp can lead to mould and damage. Keep your holiday home warm in winter by having the heating on a low and economical temperature, or by using an energy efficient smart heating control system, to prevent damage and reduce the risk of pipes freezing, which can cause pipes to burst! For more energy efficiency tips, read our sustainable holiday let advice blog.

• Insulation

A properly insulated property retains heat and is far more cost effective and energy efficient. In addition to having insulation in the walls and attic, consider adding insulation sleeving to exposed pipes and water tanks. This reduces their exposure to the elements and prevents potential damage.

• Draft excluders

A quick and effective way of preventing the cold from coming in is to use draft excluders on doors that lead to the external areas and are susceptible to letting in a breeze.

• Seal gaps and openings

Applying caulk or weather strips to cracks and gaps in windows and doors can keep the cold out and the heat in, maximising indoor comfort and preventing window rot.


Prepare your holiday home for winter storms

Cold and stormy weather is more likely to cause damage to holiday homes over the winter months, so it’s important to think about properly protecting your home.

• Flood prevention

Winter sometimes sees flooding in many areas across South Devon, which can cause significant damage to a property. Start your preparation by considering your home’s location and potential vulnerability to floods. Properties in the bottom of a valley, near the water or in a flood zone will naturally be more susceptible and having a flood plan in place can save you a lot of energy and costs. If you are in a potential flood zone, sign up to flood warning systems to receive early notification by phone, email or text.

• Get ready for snow and ice

Cold snaps and freezing weather can cause paths and walkways to be hazardous. Consider keeping salt or grit stored away ready for snow and frost.

• Winter roof maintenance

Check for broken roof tiles or missing slates which could lead to a water leak. Loose tiles could fall off in high winds and damage your property, or even cause injury to a guest. It’s also worth periodically checking roof flashings and cowls, as well as joints around chimneys and vents.

• Secure windows and doors

Make sure windows, skylights and doors are properly secure and weather tight to prevent any water leaks.

• Secure outdoor furniture and structures

Securely store outdoor furniture and loose garden items in a garage or shed, if you have one. Leave nothing outdoors that can be blown about by strong winds or be stolen. Don’t forget to check that outbuildings, sheds and garages are well-maintained, secure and weather tight, and that gates and fencing can withstand the winter conditions.

• Prune trees, branches and foliage

If your home is surrounded by trees, make sure there are no hanging branches that may present a hazard surrounding the property. Hedges and shrubs also need a prune to remove dead or damaged foliage and ensure that they are clear of buildings and cables.

• Weather alerts

Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to bad weather. Having a weather alert system on your smartphone will allow you to know in advance of any potential incoming storms and adverse weather conditions, allowing you to take necessary precautions.


Preventing water damage in your holiday home

Water damage is a major concern throughout the year, and particularly during winter. A small amount of water can cause considerable damage in a property, but there are a few simple measures you can put in place to prevent that from happening.

• Prevent burst pipes

As the temperature drops in winter, there is an increased risk of frozen pipes which can cause them to rupture and burst. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to prevent potential issues and inconveniences from occurring. Leaving the heating on low in your property and wrapping exposed pipes with sleeving is a great way to avoid problems happening.

• Clear gutters and drains

Check gutters, eaves and soffits for damage and leaks. Clear drains, gutters and downpipes of leaves and any debris so rainwater can flow into the drains without causing flooding or damp. If drains and guttering become blocked, it can create a whole host of problems including ice dams, where water from melted snow refreezes in the gutters and seeps in under the roof, soaking interior walls.

• Switch off the water

If your holiday let is unoccupied for long periods of time, reduce the risk of water damage by switching off the stop cocks, emptying pipes, draining the heating and ensuring any residual water is removed.


Keep your holiday let safe and secure during winter

Gitcombe Retreat outdoor lighting - winter maintenance safety

• Lighting

Having external lights on your cottage will improve safety for both yourself and your guests. During winter, guests may be arriving at the property in the dark, so adding outside lights to your holiday home will help to minimise any accidents and deter any potential burglars.

• Security alarm

An active security system acts as a warning for break-ins and can also be a deterrent to potential burglars.

• Community check

Having neighbours that know that your property is a holiday let and managed by an agency like Coast & Country Cottages can be a tremendous benefit, helping to keep your holiday let safe. A neighbour who knows that your property is a holiday home can help to inform emergency services, or our local letting team, of any potential concerns.


Additional winter maintenance checks for your holiday let

You can never completely rule out the chance of damage, but you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of it happening. Here is a checklist of additional winter maintenance checks that you can carry out on your holiday let accommodation.

winter maintenance tips - Abbotskerswell holiday cottage

• Chimney sweep

In preparation for the colder months and when the fireplace is likely to be used in earnest, make sure you’ve had your chimney checked and cleaned. This will help to eliminate any soot build-up and clear obstructions that can spark chimney fires.

• Fuel check and boiler service

No one wants to be stuck without heating in the middle of winter. If your heating system uses oil, make sure there is enough fuel for the winter period. It is also worthwhile having your boiler serviced prior to the colder months, to avoid any potential issues.

• Property check

Carry out regular maintenance checks to quickly identify potential issues that could result in winter damage to your holiday home.


Make your holiday home welcoming for winter guests

The Garden House - winter maintenance tip

• A warm welcome

Ensure that your heating is left on, or on a timer for your guests’ arrival. There is nothing better after a long journey than arriving to a warm house. Make sure that heating instructions are clear and accessible in the property.

• Provide emergency contact details

If guests are staying in your holiday property during stormy weather, ensure they know who to call should there be any damage. Take comfort in knowing that when letting with Coast & Country Cottages, our expert local team are on hand 24/7, not only to deal with guest’s queries but in the event of an emergency too.

• Leave a starter pack

If your property has a log fire, consider leaving a starter pack of logs and firelighters. Things like tea bags and coffee could also go a long way, especially if guests are arriving after dark. For more ideas of what to include in a welcome pack, read our blog on ‘creating the perfect holiday home guest information pack‘.

• Does your technology work?

Guests staying over the winter months are more likely to use facilities such as Wifi, TVs and DVD players. If you have these amenities, make sure they are working, and leave clear guides on how to use everything. It’s also worth considering extra items such as DVDs and board games, to entertain guests when the weather isn’t its best.


What can Coast & Country Cottages do to help keep my holiday let safe during winter?

When choosing to let your holiday home with Coast & Country Cottages, we will offer you a variety of service options depending on how hands on you want to be with running your holiday home. If you plan to do the day-to-day running of your property yourself, the locally-based team can be on hand to offer advice on your winter property maintenance. If you opt for our full agency managed service option, the Coast & Country Cottages team will take responsibility for some elements of getting your property ready for winter, removing any worries you may have. To find out more about the service options we offer, visit our blog ‘choosing a holiday home letting agency‘.

• Winter checks

Throughout winter, the Coast & Country Cottages team run winter checks on all agency managed properties every two weeks. Our team also regularly visit the properties prior to guest bookings, to make sure everything is in working order and that the heating is on.

• Insurance policy compliance

Prior to winter, owners need to be aware of what checks their holiday let insurance requires for their property. Our team can oversee the measures required and do the checks asked for by the insurance company.

• Damage prevention and repair

We offer a 24-7 guest emergency helpline and notify the property owner as soon as possible of important issues. Our local Managed Services team will be able to assist with repairs and minor works, and we know a great network of trusted local contractors, so can organise work on your behalf. We also take responsibility for paying invoices on behalf of our owners and break down the costs on our monthly owner statements, so everything is easy to keep track of.

• Project management

If you’re thinking of having improvements or work done to your property over the winter period, our local team can advise you of the best companies and contractors to use, and even help to organise work on your behalf.


This winter, spend less time worrying about how to winterise your holiday let and spend more time enjoying the season with family and friends. With years of experience and over 450 properties across Devon, our local Coast & Country Cottages team work tirelessly to support holiday home owners, making sure that holiday letting is as stress-free as possible.

Whether you are considering investing in a holiday let in Devon and want to know the right level of holiday home management service to suit your requirements, or if you need more information on how to start a successful holiday let business, call our locally based team and they’ll be able to help. Alternatively, download our free Owners Guide for an insight into our services and how we can help you.