Archive for July, 2017

Lawn Blues – surviving the tenants

A few notes on the lawn

The lawn got abused by a party held July 15th and we are trying to repair it. You might see some newly seeded areas that should be marked “out of play”. I don’t have out of play signs but perhaps you can imagine some from watching the Invitational at Augusts.

Lawn Damage July 2017

Lawn Damage July 2017

I would really appreciate your cooperation in saving the lawn as doing a repair mid summer is very difficult.

I would request and suggest that the anyone using the lawn and especially lawn game players play barefoot. There are numerous health benefits to that and it would also help the lawn quite a bit I think.

If your feet get dirty our outdoor shower next to the kitchen door is available.

I am trying to find a Thai foot massage service that could be on call. I hope to have more news on that soon.

The Management

Replacing the lawn May 2016

In the spring of 2016 after a very hard winter we finally realized that there was going to be no way that our lawn was going to be ready for the season.

We chose to install a Johnathan Green “Black Beauty” sod lawn from Sodco of Rhode Island
John Keene Excavating charged us $2,480.63 for the sod delivered.
There was 3,500 sq ft. on 7 pallets. Each pallet covers 500 sq. ft.

The total cost of the lawn was almost $8,000

Black Beauty Sod $2,480.63
Labor to Prepare Lawn $3,503.25
Labor to Install Lawn $1,885.00
Total $7,868.88

We are obviously loath to repeat this episode so will be taking a hard look at the lawn’s condition and whether it can handle any events.

We recently had a tenant who was very happy with the house. The only sour note appears to be the party on the lawn which, in retrospect, I should probably not have allowed as it was organized at the very last minute. The lawn can only take one or two of these events over the course of the season and it really showed hard use after this event. The lawn just can’t handle the traffic, especially when there is dancing. The Daniel Fischer house now charges $10,000 for an “on lawn” event and requires a wooden protective floor which is very spendy.

We will be putting in some thought to the topic of events on the lawn as we want each guest that arrives at the house to have wonderful lawn to view.


Communications during a busy summer season

Here at the Captain Morse House we do everything we can to make sure our guests will be happy and that the house is prepared for their arrival. In order to meet everyone’s expectations I thought that I should give a little perspective on what it is like from inside the house.

Since 2008 we have been renting out our family home to around 15 families a year. As of 2017 that is around 150 different rentals. Everything from a small family to a huge wedding to a corporate retreat. In that time we have learned a thing or two about how to run the house and manage the rental. The biggest thing to realize is that with a Home Vacation Rental you are basically renting a house. It is not a hotel and it has no customer services built in. In other words a person that rents a vacation rental needs to be somewhat self sufficient.

It is always interesting to see how different guests interact with us and the house. The majority of guests come and go with barely a peep. We figure they want to have some privacy as well and won’t bother them with “how is it going” questions. For awhile they have the experience of really living in the home as if it is their own. Then there are the smaller percentage of guests that want everything figured out ahead of time. Some guests call us up and write us as many as 30 times with various questions about the house. Most of these are already written up in the manual or on the website. As the owner of the house I don’t necessarily mind this but it often leaks into the rental period as well and then it becomes a bit of a trudge. Don’t get me wrong, we would love to assist wherever we can BUT the facts are that this is not a hotel and does not have a full time staff. Finally there are the small percentage that want to waited on. I would love to have a customer service representative on island but the fact of the matter is that anyone in service on the island is absolutely flat out during the summer months. Our very nice and calm and happy cleaner runs from house to house and gets frazzled. Our caretaker is busy up island with actual home owners and not vacationers trying to get their bearings. Both of these people do not need the hassle of caring for a vacation home when there are plenty of people who don’t rent their houses out and are a lot more chill to deal with. The simple fact is unless I can make their life easier they might just decide that the Captain Morse House and our valued summer visitors are simply more trouble than they are worth. Needless to say that would be a disaster because there is simply a very limited supply of great cleaners and caretakers on the island.

The silver lining to all of this varied experience has allowed us to put what we have learned into our Welcome Page, our FAQs and our House Manual. Our guests can search these documents and find the answer to whatever question they have. If it is not in these documents then we have established an email address that is monitored by several people. We have decided that email is the only way we will communicate during a rental so that we can respond as soon as possible. It is a new system implemented in the middle of 2017 and I hope that it will work out well for all. Of course in case of Emergencies we are always just a phone call away.

In the meantime if you know of anyone who wants to be an on call customer service representative for the Captain Morse House in Edgartown Ma we are accepting applications. It could be the perfect job for someone who only wants to work a few hours a week, meet some awesome people (our guests) and manage the island’s very best vacation rental home.



Lawn Games and the Yard

Occasionally I get asked about the use of the yard for games. We think that the yard is a great feature of the house and want to encourage it’s use. Unfortunately the use of the yard can rise above what one might consider normal wear and tear. A bunch of 5 year olds running around will never harm the lawn. 10 teenagers playing Wiffle Ball over several days will wear a huge hole into the lawn at home plate.  Lawn wear, in this case, was exacerbated by playing during a rainy period.

Here is some background on our particular issues.
Our lawn was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain due to the shade provided by the surrounding trees. Increasing use of the home by vacationing groups add to the wear and can exceed the ability of the lawn to come back. This also makes repairs difficult as well. We obviously want to provide a nice lawn for each group that uses the house so your cooperation in minimizing hard use of the lawn is appreciated. Running and stopping style games are probably more than the yard can handle. Playing anything when the lawn is wet is also probably not a good idea.

In May of 2016 we had to re-sod the entire lawn as we could not bring the lawn back to condition for the season. The total cost was around $15,000. In July we had a group play Wiffle Ball on the lawn. They were pretty enthusiastic, played during inclement weather and wore right through the lawn at home plate. This caused  bald spot that took months to reseed and repair.

In October of 2016 I took out two large Dog Wood trees to open up the yard to more sunlight.

Spring of 2017 I bought a brand new Bocce and Croquet set for the house. These types of games are fine.

No kiddy pools, water slides or water toys of any kind should be used on the lawn.

Please enjoy our yard but try to leave it in good condition for the other future tenants as well.

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