We are Tom & Lin, the original, official 'housem8s! We both decided to leave our conventional lives behind in 2002; soon after that we became full time house sitters and pet sitters quite unintentionally! Having 'downshifted', Tom became a freelance writer and web designer. Lin left behind working in retail for a 'career break', which lasted a lot longer than anticipated!
Because we had become self employed house sitters, we realised that it didn't matter where we lived, as long as we had access to the internet. We started looking after our friends' houses and pets whilst they were absent on holiday. Fairly soon our friends' friends were enquiring after our house sitter and pet sitting services! We recognised an opportunity to live an interesting lifestyle, and by 2005 we were on the road as often as we were at home!
As professional house sitters we carried a great responsibility, we would often house sit in quite large, rural, high-value properties for discerning, sometimes demanding clients.
It was a lifestyle that brought with it certain restrictions. For example, we couldn’t go away at night, we were contracted not to leave any property in our care unattended for more than three hours at a time, and there was nearly always an element of dog-sitting and cat-sitting in with the deal.
Our pet and house sitters services were always provided with good grace. We enjoyed life in some very pleasant places and the utility bills were always met by the client.
Above all, we would only house sit for those who understood that the spirit of our agreement was based on a mutual trust and respect. The relationship between house sitter and home owner should always be equitable, never exploitative from either party. We provided a rock solid reliability guarantee and we treated our clients' homes with the utmost care; we looked after any pets as if they were our own, if not even better.
In turn we expected to receive a remuneration which covered our subsistence, and professional pet sitter expenses, such as running a bona-fide limited house sitting company, house sitters liability insurance, and the onerous cost of travel and running a vehicle. Not bad for about £50 a day all-in. One of our clients once said that we were just "ordinary people living an extraordinary life". I liked that idea.
We travelled as house sitters all around the UK and sometimes Europe, even Australia
We were always aware that some potential clients felt that because there were only two of us, in the event of an emergency, the client would be left without a house sitter. But it never happened in eight years.
To give you an idea of our dedication, we were bereaved and lost three of our four parents in one year, and although the funerals twice coincided with house sit assignments, one of us still stayed at our post.
Booking a professional house sitter should be like booking a holiday - once you have reserved a housesitter’s services, the arrangement should then be set in stone; we never let people down because our reputation is incredibly important.
The above experience and commitment lead us to perform about 80 house sitting and pet sitters assignments over eight years. During that time we worked for a variety of around 30 clients, from three or four of whom we can now call firm friends, and two people we’d prefer not to communicate with again. In fact, our complaint ratio was 3 of 80:
One for over watering a Bonsai and putting weight on the dog (the owner changed their food since the previous assignment but neglected to tell us to alter the portions, as a result one dog put on 1lb in weight, as we follow portion instructions to the letter.)
One accusation of leaving a window open after we had left the assignment and failing to report a broken garden chair (the wind blew all the garden furniture about half a mile down the road, and the housekeeper forgot to give the comprehensive debrief notes to the client.)
One of not leaving the house as clean as it might have been. This was the only ever complaint about cleanliness in 80 assignments, but then again, we later discovered that the lady in question took her own towels to hotels as anything other than a brand new towel could never be used on more than one person. A touch of obsessive-compulsive behaviour there, perhaps?
Anything that might happen regarding the interaction between house sitters and home owners has been used directly in attempting to ensure that virtually every eventuality is covered when home owners and house sitters alike use this website to arrange house and pet sitting assignments.
If you would like to share something you have encountered during a house sitting or pet sitter assignment, whether you are a home owner or a sitter, please contact us via the form on this site or via support(at)housem8.com and we might feature your helpful experience or advice on our resources section.
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