Hosting an Airbnb

Our lake home on Pokegama Lake in Pine City is back in our hands for the first time in nine years. On May 31, we ended our long term renters’ lease and put it up for rent on Airbnb starting June 21.

Just three tension-filled weeks to ready the entire four bedroom-house and property for paying guests.

First, I gathered bids, and hired a painter to paint the interior top to bottom including ceilings. That ate up our first nine days.

Meanwhile, I shopped! And shopped… on Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, Ikea, Target, Homegoods and Walmart for furniture and everything else necessary to accommodate 12 people on vacation.

My son and husband fixed broken screens, nail holes, windows, chipped tile and woodwork,. We bought new toilet seats and shower curtains and scrubbed sinks, tubs, toilets.

Andrew resurfaced the entire splintery, dried out wood deck, hung 40 new window shades and painstakingly built eleven bed frames.

He found us a big sectional on Craig’s List and picked it up and hauled it up there in his truck.

I outfitted the kitchen with dishes for 18, silverware, pots, pans, glasses, towels, hot pads, and hand soap, detergent, scrubbers.

I found new cupboard handles and dresser knobs and Curt installed them.

Andrew and I purchased four twin, four full, two queen and one king mattress and he lugged them up there in his truck.

I bought bedroom dressers, night stands and end tables and lamps and wastebaskets and a round coffee table and throw pillows and a throw, and chairs for the bedrooms and a new big screen TV.

Curt put together Ikea furniture and built Adirondack chairs and shopped for a new grill.

Andrew hauled our five sections of dock into the water and set them up with help from Curt. When it rained endlessly and they submerged, he hauled all five sections to a shallower section of lake and hooked them up all over again.

I purchased a washer and dryer. Andrew hauled them up and installed them.

Andrew found a used pontoon, transported it to the house and put it in the water, then returned the trailer to the seller.

I brought up wildlife and nature art from our basement and found more at Ikea and Good Will. We all hung it.

I order 12 sets of bathroom towels and bath mats and found shelves for over the toilets to stack them. I stocked up on paper goods and put soap and shampoo in all three bathrooms.

Andrew found a big mirror at Homegoods and mounted it.

I set up Netflix, Wifi, garbage pickup, and just prayed we hadn’t forgotten anything major.

The last couple days I made endless trips to the Pine City Walmart to buy everything from fans to rust-inhibiting salt, garbage bins and kitchen trash receptacles, a Cornhole Game, propane tanks, salt and pepper shakers, Keurig coffee maker and coffee, fly swatters, hangers, more sheets etc. etc..

Andrew found new kitchen pendant lights and put them up, along with building a railing for the back stairs the afternoon of June 20th.

All the while, if anything could go wrong, it did. Our recessed shower light fell out and broke. The painter failed to paint our Adirondack chairs as promised; he was busy elsewhere. The gas company wouldn’t turn on the dryer until they came out and checked the installation.

Tension and exhaustion made it hard to sleep the last few nights. We were all running on adrenalin. I lost four pounds, there was hardly time to eat. The day before guests arrived, piles of cardboard and plastic littered the entire house. My heart felt encased in cement. It didn’t look like we’d make our deadline.

There was no option, we had to make it. A bad review right out of the chute would doom us.

At the last minute, our painter delivered our freshly painted Adirondack chairs and mowed late afternoon of June 20th. Andrew and Curt trekked all the carboard and plastic out to the garage. I put out throw pillows and screwed light bulbs in lamps.

Our cleaner made eleven beds and washed windows until 4 a.m. the night before our first guests arrived.

The first family of guests arrived June 21, probably just a few minutes after Andrew finished stocking the place with firewood and buying gas for the pontoon etc. etc.

The sheer relief of having accomplished this huge feat stayed with us for days. The chance to prepare a meal and eat it slowly, to sleep eight hours a night, to think about something besides what to clean or fix or buy next, and immediately after that, next. What pleasure not to run to stores, and endlessly run up bills on our Capital One card, to the point where I had to switch to a second one.

Our first review was five stars!

Andrew Fischer made it possible. This whole thing was his idea. He handles our Airbnb and VRBO sites, communicates with renters and deals with crises like fallen trees and hiring of new cleaners. We’re now on our fourth and she’s good.

I won’t forget how stressful it was preparing for our first guests.

This is still no picnic. One of us usually heads up every other week during the weekdays to deal with problems, small repairs, replenish paper products or firewood or gas for the grill. Usually Curt and I go. Bad rain can submerge the dock and wreak havoc with the pontoon. In that case, we stay and monitor the situation. So far, no weather related problem has caused us to reimburse anyone.

Yes it’s work. Yet it thrills me and my husband, and I know we’ll look back on it as a huge adventure. It’s exciting to run an Airbnb and offer people a memorable summer vacation. We’ve had guests from Omaha, Duluth, Iowa and Nebraska. Most of them are neat and appreciative. A few left the place a mess, which is tough for our cleaner, Brittney. Our only recourse is to leave these people a bad guest review, which we’ve done.

For the most part, our own reviews have been good, though not all five star by any means. We’re learning.

Money is being made. We use the place on weekdays some of the time; we love using the house ourselves for the first time in nine years. Next year, when things are more under control, we’ll bring up some friends.

Check it out on VRBO.com #1620489, or on Airbnb: Pine City Lake Home with 200 feet of Lakeshore. Better yet, book a weekend and let us know what you think.

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