Caretaker Couple for Seaside Estate

23 Sep 2022
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Property Manager Couple

An immediate year-round, full time opening for a 2-person team (spouses/partners) with formal horticultural training and hands on gardening expertise to live on and manage a New England waterfront estate.

Our client’s Property is a remote seaside location in New England. It consists of approximately 30 acres, four of which are highly maintained and the rest is natural scrub oak forest and sand dune. Access to the Property is a three-mile, well maintained dirt road that services a number of other homes, most of which are used only seasonally. The Property’s structures and plantings are subject to harsh seaside conditions and must be maintained according to local regulations restricting run-off to sensitive ponds and shore areas.

The improvements, created in 1999, include a six-bedroom main residence, pool and pool house/exercise room, two-bedroom caretaker’s cottage and equipment shed (“the barn”). The style of all structures is contemporary with extensive decking and expanses of glass. There are two fenced garden areas providing vegetables, flowers, culinary herbs and berries for the Owner.

The Property is used by the Owner for private retreats, primarily in summer, and occasionally by the family’s grown children. The Property must be constantly maintained so that the Owner can visit on very short notice. This will require that all systems, facilities and grounds be kept in a state of reasonable readiness so that only final touches need be applied prior to the Owner’s arrival.

The Owner

The Owner travels regularly, domestically and internationally, and maintains a demanding schedule of service on numerous boards. The Owner, while self-described as a “perfectionist” and a “demanding” employer, enjoys many long-term relationships with household, garden and office employees. The staff for this Property should not expect to have a lot of personal contact with the Owner, either on the phone or during visits; most communication will go through the Owner’s office staff.

The Position

This is a full time, year-round, resident (housing provided) salaried position for a couple. The Property Manager Couple will be the employees of and will report to the Owner. The workload is affected by season and the Owner’s visiting schedule. The Property Manager Couple may work long hours, seven days a week during peak growing seasons or while the Owner is in residence and somewhat less intensively in winter or when the residence is unoccupied. However, the Owner expects that the Property Manager Couple’s work schedule will include regular, full-time hours Monday through Friday all year except at peak periods when the hours will be extended.

The Owner expects that the duties of this position will be shared between the spouse/partners in the Property Manager Couple according to their skills and expertise. Our client requires that all responsibilities of this position be discharged by one or both members of the Couple, except by explicit agreement with the Owner that certain tasks or duties may be delegated to outside vendors on a case-by-case or ongoing basis.

Responsibilities

It is important for applicants to understand that the essence of this joint position is the hands-on maintenance of the gardens and landscape rather than overseeing third party landscape contractors. It is estimated that the Property Manager Couple will spend approximately 65% of their time on garden/landscape issues and the rest on a variety of maintenance and service issues. A detailed list of ongoing chores and special preparations for Owner visits is available. General responsibilities include:

Gardening/Landscaping. The Property Manager Couple will maintain the grounds, planters, private beach, buildings, fences and other structures in pristine condition at all times, appropriate to the season. Due to the difficulty in obtaining services at desired times from even the most responsive local landscaping vendors, the Owner requires that the Property Manager Couple serve as hands-on head gardeners. The Couple will personally be involved in all aspects of maintaining and enhancing the existing landscaping, which was originally specified by an award-winning landscape designer and has evolved over time. The Property Manager Couple will maintain all hardscape and introduced and natural plant areas consonant with sustainable practices and sensitive waterfront locations.

Maintenance. The Property Manager Couple will maintain all structures and outdoor surfaces and the pool and spa and will keep all building systems, vehicles and equipment (interior and exterior) in top working condition. This position does not involve cleaning per se (see below) but does include assisting in certain projects like window washing as often as necessary to provide spotless glass surfaces throughout the residence and pool house whenever the Property is occupied.

Administration. The Property Manager Couple will process all vendor invoices and submit them for payment twice a month. The Couple will purchase supplies and equipment as approved by the Owner. The Owner expects a weekly written report including photos as appropriate, via email to the office, covering activities, plans, questions and/or issues for the Owner’s information or decision. The Owner will respond in a timely manner, generally through the office staff.

Miscellaneous. The Property Manager Couple will occasionally provide local transportation for the Owner and guests, arrange, pickup and return rental cars when necessary, collect mail daily from a box at the entrance to the dirt road, obtain daily newspapers when the Property is occupied and handle other errands. The Property Manager Couple will create and maintain fresh arrangements of seasonally appropriate plant material from the property for the residence when it is occupied, as well as table flowers for frequent parties, and will supply and maintain the fireplaces.

Other Relationships and Resources

Construction. The Property Manager Couple will schedule and oversee contractors and subcontractors and will identify additional contractors and specialists as necessary for ongoing and future projects.

Cleaning. A principal Housekeeper often accompanies the Owner on visits to this Property. The Owner also employs a local Housekeeper who maintains the interiors of the residence, assists in intensive preparation before family visits and assists in daily maintenance of the residence and pool house when the Owner is in residence. The Property Manager Couple must work effectively with the Housekeepers and will engage and supervise additional specialty cleaning or maintenance personnel as necessary.

Carpentry/handyman. It is expected that the Property Manager Couple will be capable of light carpentry and other maintenance tasks and will rely on outside contractors only for more extensive or specialized projects. When required, the Property Manager Couple will schedule and oversee the work of specialized contractors.

Other vendors. The Property Manager Couple will serve as the Owner’s representative to the local trade community. They will develop and maintain good working relationships with all service providers, schedule and oversee their work and approve/process their invoices for payment.

Catering. A private chef accompanies the Owner on visits to the Property when appropriate. The Owner entertains extensively during these visits and engages local kitchen and wait staff as required. The Property Manager Couple is not responsible for any food services beyond stocking the house with basic supplies before the Owner’s arrival and errands during visits.

Finance & Legal. The Owner is supported by a family office that handles bookkeeping, finance, legal, tax and other matters. The Property Manager Couple will work effectively with this staff to process invoices and otherwise manage local financial matters for the property.

Required Qualifications

Formal training at undergraduate, graduate or program level in horticulture and/or landscape maintenance.

Extensive hands-on experience maintaining hardscaped and landscaped areas, both cultivated and naturalistic.

Knowledge of sustainable methods for maintaining growing materials, including lawns, shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals for viewing and cutting, vegetables, bramble fruits and herbs.

Possession of or ability to obtain all required licenses (e.g. pesticide application).

Competence in pool and spa maintenance.

Proven problem-solving skills, creativity and the ability to involve others successfully in finding workable solutions.

Strong work ethic and a willingness to undertake any necessary task.

Demonstrated ability to provide exemplary service to an Owner, family and guests in a private estate setting.

Attention to minute detail and exceptionally high personal and professional standards.

Excellent personal and professional organizational, prioritizing and implementation skills.

Strong interpersonal and management skills adequate to maintaining effective working relationships with the Owner, family, staff and a wide variety of vendors and service personnel.

The sensitivity to respect the Owner’s preferences and possessions at all times and privacy while in residence.

Sufficient computer and office skills to maintain basic Property accounts and facilitate communication.

Excellent communications skills, both oral and written.

Enjoyment of vigorous outdoor work in all seasons.

A drive to find pleasure and pride in creating both a beautiful environment and a smoothly-running property so as to eliminate stress for the Owner.

Stamina, positive attitude and a sense of humor.

The ability as a couple to thrive in an isolated setting and to work effectively and cooperatively as a team.

Preferred Qualifications

Experience maintaining plantings in an exposed coastal aspect.

Experience successfully growing plants in Zone 6 and below, including knowledge of wind and salt tolerance and deer resistance.

Ability to perform basic carpentry, electrical, plumbing and machinery repairs.

Compensation

This position offers a competitive full-time salary ($150K-$200K) per annum for the Property Manager Couple; housing in an attractive two-bedroom cottage on the property and utilities (except personal phone); health benefits, paid vacation and reasonable relocation expenses.

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