Visiting home inspector offers vacationers peace of mind

Matthew Trout, owner of Snowbirder Property Services, documents a home inspection. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Ever been on vacation and had that uneasy feeling you left a door unlocked at home and are being robbed blind?

Sarnia’s Matthew Trout says he’s the guy to ensure you never have that anxiety again.

“I know how much people want to protect their property,” he said.  “I can offer peace of mind.”

Trout, 38, started a professional home watch company six months ago called Snowbirder Property Services.

He’ll inspect a house, inside and out, and check everything from the hot tub to the locks on the basement windows. He charges $150 for three visits in a week, each time checking 30 different items, photographing them and sending those photos to the customer.

It costs $250 per week for daily inspections, with additional charges if something beyond the 30 checkpoints is requested.

For instance, home concierge services can include grocery pickup or house cleaning just prior to the client’s return.

Offering documentation to the homeowner evolved from Trout’s own attention to detail.

“When I started out, I’d take photos to remind myself that certain tasks were complete based on the customer’s wishes, like locking the doors, turning off the lights, or checking for leaks under the sink,” he said.

“I began sharing those photos with homeowners to let them know everything was okay and it was really well received.”

Trout is originally from Alberta and has lived in Sarnia with his wife and daughter off and on for about 11 years.

He had worked for a home security company installing alarm systems for 13 years when the business concept came to him.

“Friends would ask me to watch their houses while they were away and I realized that a lot of people take a gamble and just get neighbours or family to check their place when they remember.

“I saw an opportunity for a company that focuses on nothing but home inspections while people are on vacation.”

Many people don’t realize home insurance policies require regular inspections while they are away. Failing to provide proof a home was checked can mean insurance coverage is denied, Trout said.

“The Insurance Bureau of Canada stipulates if a homeowner is gone for more than four days, it should be inspected every 24 hours,” he said.

Some insurance companies have more specific requirements and each homeowner should check their policy, he added.

“The biggest concern is water damage, so if you aren’t having someone check every 24 hours you need to shut down the water and drain the lines.”

His photos provide undeniable proof of inspection by a reliable individual should a claim be necessary, he said.

Trout is bonded and carries two forms of liability insurance. His business is also accredited by the National Home Watch Association (NHWA).

Snowbirder Property Services is one of only four companies with NHWA accreditation in Ontario.

Trout services Sarnia, Point Edward, Bright’s Grove and Camlachie.

For more information, visit www.snowbirder.ca or call 226-349-4685.

Got a great idea for a business story?  Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.