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Not living in your B and B

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Dcalfee

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My husband and I are considering buying a B and B in our town. We live in a beautiful home on a lake 5 minutes from the prospective property, that we can't bear to give up. My question is , Does anyone not live in their B and B? This is an 1890's victorian with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. I would probably arrive early and do breakfast and stay and clean the rooms. I would leave around noon and go back in the evening to make coffees and teas and converse with the guests.
 

Breakfast Diva

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Boy, the life you've described you think you'd lead is not based in reality. So, how would you check-out guests at 11:00, clean the rooms and leave by noon? If you're doing it by yourself, it takes approx 1 hour per room to turn over...leaving at noon is out of the question. When are you going to do all that laundry? Cleaning the common areas?
Who is going to check in your guests in the afternoon? Who is going to do all the shopping? With 4 bedrooms and 3 baths, it means a shared bath. If you're in the U.S. that's a big negative. Common baths need to be freshened up during the day...I wouldn't want to take a shower/bath after a stranger had.
Going back in the evening to make coffee & teas and chat? Sounds like a dream.
Is this place already a b&b? Different laws in different locations sometime forbid the innkeeper from living off premise. Most insurance companies will also not cover the b&b without a full time person in charge on the property.
If you're new to this forum, please take some time to look at a lot of our discussions. I think you might have a case of "wouldn't it be fun to be an innkeeper" syndrome. It's a lot of hard work, takes a lot of time and leaves very little time for a personal life.
 

Joey Camb

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I can be run from off the premises as 5 mins away isn't bad but these are things to consider
1-cctv means you can look in now and again and make sure they arn't having a house party in your absense
2- As Diva mentioned its a minimum 45 mins to turn a room round depending on size and what state its left in - some guests you have to rearange the curtains so they know you have been - others its like a bomb has hit
3- also just cos check out is 11 does not mean they will actully leave then - just another 5 mins we are loading the car can stretch to an hour.
4- people really don't like unmanned properties - woman nearly had my arm off clutching onto me and making sure we lived there as last year for the same event was in an unmanned property and they were terrified! its also things like power cuts and so on that need dealing with.
5- People really don't like shared bathrooms - I am reorganising my top floor so that I get rid of the 2 rooms with private bathrooms! people arn't keen on that either!
6- what are the stats? is there much tourism? weddings? business travellers? whats the competition? will it support those extra rooms?
7- how much work does the property need to bring it up to standard? ie liscences, sprinklers,kitchen regs, plus what do you need? ie food handling and so on? also accessability and disability issues
8- property has no history as a bb - ie what marketing idea/plan do you have in place?
9- have you looked into courses? read any books?
sorry if we seem negative but we get so many people on here "oh it would be so idyllic to run a bb and you just do breakfast and have the rest of the day off!" makes us a bit crazy!
 

JBloggs

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Welcome to the forum!
If you can't leave your current residence you can't operate the inn. You will hate the inn. Owning and operating an inn is a 24 hour job, you can't clock in and clock out.
First of all you need to check your local regs, most B&B's MUST have an owner living on site, also most insurance for B&B's require it. That is what makes it a B&B vs a rental. Licensing will be totally different. Is it already a B&B? You would be surprised at how many B&B's never open when it comes time for approval and the neighbors do not allow it. Given you would NOT be living there, would be a huge reason to not allow it.
Sorry to be a naysayer, but it is what it is.
 

EmptyNest

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Welcome. Please read alot of the other postings here and I think you will be enlightened. I agree with the others. People don't want to stay in a place by themselves. They are uncomfortable being left alone in a house at night with no owner/ innkeeper on site. This also may not be legal in many cases or for insurance purposes. If people choose a B & B they do so usually because of interaction of the innkeepers. This is not a 9-5 job. Take off the rose colored glasses. Read all you can and take an aspiring innkeeper course first. Then decide if you can do it. And check zoning as well.
 

Dcalfee

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Thanks for all the advise. Yes is is running now as a B&B. The owners are ill and the price is low. I have run businesses and I have had lots of rental apartments. I am just in the very early stages of learning. Maybe is isnt for me , but I want to find that out. I am checking with the county about not living there. It has 2 bedrooms on the right side of the home with ensuites. I could possibly rent the other side out as an apt. 2 bedrooms, greatroom and bath. What if I called it a 'Guest House' ? My husband and I would be on premise a lot because I would be running a canoe and bicycle rental on the same property. I'm thinking whats the difference of renting a couple cottages where you are not there at night. This would not be a B&B or Inn, but vacation rentals in an Historic 1890's home. We are near a 'famous' bike trail where people are begging for places to stay. No competition in town. This is in the middle of a cute, quaint, artsy, fast growing 'village'. We have hundreds of bike riders every weekend from Oct till May every year. We also have 3 growing festivals each year. The nearest hotels are 7-10 miles away and are booked full on weekends. We are an hour to Disney, near a large lake, the bike trail, Florida Manatees are a 30 minute drive. The area has lots to offer. What do you think? Am I crazy?? I just thinking it could be a profitable business.
 

Madeleine

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Thanks for all the advise. Yes is is running now as a B&B. The owners are ill and the price is low. I have run businesses and I have had lots of rental apartments. I am just in the very early stages of learning. Maybe is isnt for me , but I want to find that out. I am checking with the county about not living there. It has 2 bedrooms on the right side of the home with ensuites. I could possibly rent the other side out as an apt. 2 bedrooms, greatroom and bath. What if I called it a 'Guest House' ? My husband and I would be on premise a lot because I would be running a canoe and bicycle rental on the same property. I'm thinking whats the difference of renting a couple cottages where you are not there at night. This would not be a B&B or Inn, but vacation rentals in an Historic 1890's home. We are near a 'famous' bike trail where people are begging for places to stay. No competition in town. This is in the middle of a cute, quaint, artsy, fast growing 'village'. We have hundreds of bike riders every weekend from Oct till May every year. We also have 3 growing festivals each year. The nearest hotels are 7-10 miles away and are booked full on weekends. We are an hour to Disney, near a large lake, the bike trail, Florida Manatees are a 30 minute drive. The area has lots to offer. What do you think? Am I crazy?? I just thinking it could be a profitable business..
Why not rent it out by the week instead of overnight? You'd probably have better luck doing it that way. Having to clean an 'apartment' and 2 suites is a lot of work everyday. You can't just 'sweep the room with a glance' and be done.
 

Samster

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Living off site would largely depend on the city zoning for the city's definition of a B&B. I worked at a large inn where the owners lived off-site and we have one in our city where the owners live within about 5 minutes of their place. Here's the caveat - they both have hired help during the day and through the check-in time frame. Both are unattended at night. If you anticipate a lot of the guests' needs, you might be able to get by with living off site. You still need to be available to the guests if needed.
There are a lot of "guest houses" in some areas of Texas that are unhosted. People know about it up front and it works.
A traditional B&B does require you to be available 24/7, just in case but some owners have made it work to live off site.
 

seashanty

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welcome.
it sounds lovely and idyllic ... but ...
i believe you would need to hire an onsite innkeeper.
there is a lot of work, as others have mentioned. it is shocking how much has to be done if you have not done it. guests do not check in when you expect, they do not leave when you expect, more people arrive than you anticipated or they bring other people into the building.
my very first night with 4 paying guests, a woman had to go to the emergency room with food poisoning from eating something at a clam shack en route. in one word ~ the experience was terrifying!
things happen.
can you take an aspiring innkeeper course where you go stay someplace and pitch in so you can quickly see what is involved? it took me 45 minutes to flip (clean) a room between guests. and each guest room does have to be thoroughly cleaned in addition to the common areas. it's like having company come over. all pristine before they arrive; they leave a few hours later and it's a mess.
sometimes things get torn, stained, broken, go missing ... light bulbs burn out, fuses blow (old building, old wiring), appliances malfunction.
aside from the legalities and the logistics of no one onsite overnight, i personally have had a bad experience in an inn that had no overnight staff and i will not stay in one again. no matter how lovely.
 

Kay Nein

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We have an 8 room B&B and live off premises (4 miles away). During the week it's not bad because the bulk of our business is on the weekends (for now).
On the weekends there are 2 of us. Breakfast at 830am & immediately start cleaning up the kitchen from prep, then from clearing tables and then total cleaning once everyone vacates the dining room. As soon as the first couple checks out, the other innkeeper starts cleaning the rooms. I concentrate on the kitchen, dining & common areas and checking our guests out while the other is only doing rooms. As soon as I'm able, I start helping with rooms. We typically don't get out of there until 130-2pm and sometimes the rooms aren't even all done yet.
Check in is supposed to be at 3pm (and we tell people this several times) but they show up early, so it's not often possible to leave once the rooms are done. And then there's the 10pm walk-ins (like last night) that make you have to go back up there when you're already in your PJs.
It's non-stop and it can't be done without the two of us. There's never a day off and you're always on call. I've never had a guest complain about being left alone in the house - we see it as a bonus if there are no other guests that someone gets the quiet house to themselves.
 

scrambled_eggs

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Personally I think it is important to live on site. I have had a few instances where I have had a water line break in one of the rooms in the middle of the night that needed attention right away. I have also had one of the toilet parts in the tank break and caused the toilet to run really loud and on top of that the toilet shut off valve broke and would not stop the water. The water to the whole house had to be shut off until it could be fixed the next day. I've had medical emergencies and one 78 year old lady fell down on the floor in her room and could not get herself back up. An ambulance had to be called. Another woman not paying attention to what she was doing tripped and fell down the stairs head first and cracked about 4 ribs. Thank god someone was here. These are the reasons it is good to have someone in the same building or on the same property. I never imagined these things would happen when I first started but it is life and it does happen.
 

JBloggs

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We have an 8 room B&B and live off premises (4 miles away). During the week it's not bad because the bulk of our business is on the weekends (for now).
On the weekends there are 2 of us. Breakfast at 830am & immediately start cleaning up the kitchen from prep, then from clearing tables and then total cleaning once everyone vacates the dining room. As soon as the first couple checks out, the other innkeeper starts cleaning the rooms. I concentrate on the kitchen, dining & common areas and checking our guests out while the other is only doing rooms. As soon as I'm able, I start helping with rooms. We typically don't get out of there until 130-2pm and sometimes the rooms aren't even all done yet.
Check in is supposed to be at 3pm (and we tell people this several times) but they show up early, so it's not often possible to leave once the rooms are done. And then there's the 10pm walk-ins (like last night) that make you have to go back up there when you're already in your PJs.
It's non-stop and it can't be done without the two of us. There's never a day off and you're always on call. I've never had a guest complain about being left alone in the house - we see it as a bonus if there are no other guests that someone gets the quiet house to themselves..
I was going to add that if you wanted it to be a weekend only business, then it might work. But where we are, we have just as many weekday guests as weekend. You said you wanted it to be successful, what are the numbers now? (Not specifically, just asking what it is you hope to improve, and if so you will need to be there working).
Let's also add the term "ideal" to the mix. Many of us may operate in a way that may not be ideal, ie living in the basement or attic or not having enough personal space, or being a solo innkeeper, or unable to do any handywork ourselves and having to pay for everything, plus many more that may not be ideal to own and operate an inn successfully. How we manage and what we would change if we could from the get go are two different things. I would appreciate more space and time away from the inn, but owning an inn it is not ideal to live off premises. So it is doable, but not recommended.
 

Joey Camb

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We have an 8 room B&B and live off premises (4 miles away). During the week it's not bad because the bulk of our business is on the weekends (for now).
On the weekends there are 2 of us. Breakfast at 830am & immediately start cleaning up the kitchen from prep, then from clearing tables and then total cleaning once everyone vacates the dining room. As soon as the first couple checks out, the other innkeeper starts cleaning the rooms. I concentrate on the kitchen, dining & common areas and checking our guests out while the other is only doing rooms. As soon as I'm able, I start helping with rooms. We typically don't get out of there until 130-2pm and sometimes the rooms aren't even all done yet.
Check in is supposed to be at 3pm (and we tell people this several times) but they show up early, so it's not often possible to leave once the rooms are done. And then there's the 10pm walk-ins (like last night) that make you have to go back up there when you're already in your PJs.
It's non-stop and it can't be done without the two of us. There's never a day off and you're always on call. I've never had a guest complain about being left alone in the house - we see it as a bonus if there are no other guests that someone gets the quiet house to themselves..
I was going to add that if you wanted it to be a weekend only business, then it might work. But where we are, we have just as many weekday guests as weekend. You said you wanted it to be successful, what are the numbers now? (Not specifically, just asking what it is you hope to improve, and if so you will need to be there working).
Let's also add the term "ideal" to the mix. Many of us may operate in a way that may not be ideal, ie living in the basement or attic or not having enough personal space, or being a solo innkeeper, or unable to do any handywork ourselves and having to pay for everything, plus many more that may not be ideal to own and operate an inn successfully. How we manage and what we would change if we could from the get go are two different things. I would appreciate more space and time away from the inn, but owning an inn it is not ideal to live off premises. So it is doable, but not recommended.
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Also what state of repair is the building fabric in? ie we took on our property because it has a car park which where i am is like gold dust and its location which is 8 meters away from a busy conference center, in the center of a triangle of 3 theatres, 10 mins in the car from a 10 acre show ground, reasonably boyant business market, and within 30 mins drive of 50 of what I would call traditional attractions (ie castles, ancient houses and so on)
BUT and its a big but the fabric of the building needs a lot of work and we knew that - fabric stuff can be changed location and car parking cannot! however it does mean a lot of building work in the short term and a lot of money invested. - make sure you have a good survey done and are aware of every single thing thing which may need expenditure - we discussed this with another person who was looking to buy
1- bounce on every bed
2- look behind every picture
3- have the electrics checked - ie very expensive job to repair
4- is it on a septic tank or on the mains as that is another ball park
5- lift every rug - ie what state are the carpets in?
6 make them make a very detailed list of what is going and what is staying as this can lead to some nasty surprises.
 

gillumhouse

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Another thing about living of-premises is you have 2 sets of utilities, 2 sets of taxes, possibly 2 mortgages...... One of the thinkgs I liked about doing B & B was one set of everything. I could have a business and NOT pay for a storefront and not have to commute more than 20 feet. I also have 2 rooms because I refuse to have only my bedroom for private space - but DH took over the "living room" as his studio, the sun porch became his workshop.......
 

Copperhead

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The most valuable information can be found here in this forum... most importantly is the lifestyle! You need to know that innkeeping is WORK, no doubt about that! READ lots!
I have FIRST hand experience staying in a 1880 built home turned B&B that did not have an onsite innkeeper. It was a BAD experience to say the least: they forgot they had rented to us and set the security alarm, we returned and set it off leading to the police coming and having about an hour delay to get to bed. Had no idea about breakfast, was told to make my own coffee and get cream etc out of the fidge - this was in the restaurant kitchen area.... OH my health code issues. No blankets & felt bad searching what areas should be private to find some. NO contact info provided.
Since then we have stayed 2 other places without onsite, both without issues, but I was concerned never the less.
 

Bigbid

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We own and operate 2 B&B's that we do not live in. A 12 room one is just across the street from our home and another 8 rooms is 3 blocks away. I do breakfast at one and my wife at the other. We hire house help to clean rooms from around 10am to 3pm every day and we stay pretty busy. Our check in is from 1 to 5 and our guests are informed that after 5 they will probably be getting a note and key left for them (for online reservations, reservationkey has a good way to do this). We have had no real issues in the 12 years we have been doing this. The main thing I think you will have trouble with is insurance. We got some waivers because we are so close to our Inns but you could have a problem. They might require alarm systems that will trigger alarms at police, fore andyour residence. Good Luck
 

Arks

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We own and operate 2 B&B's that we do not live in. A 12 room one is just across the street from our home and another 8 rooms is 3 blocks away. I do breakfast at one and my wife at the other. We hire house help to clean rooms from around 10am to 3pm every day and we stay pretty busy. Our check in is from 1 to 5 and our guests are informed that after 5 they will probably be getting a note and key left for them (for online reservations, reservationkey has a good way to do this). We have had no real issues in the 12 years we have been doing this. The main thing I think you will have trouble with is insurance. We got some waivers because we are so close to our Inns but you could have a problem. They might require alarm systems that will trigger alarms at police, fore andyour residence. Good Luck.
Bigbid said:
They might require alarm systems that will trigger alarms at police, fore andyour residence.
I recently installed an alarm system for my sister's "variety store" that includes door sensors and motion sensor, phones as many as 9 different numbers of your choice, and continues to call them until they answer, for three attempts (so no recurring monitoring service charges). All the sensors are wireless so no wires to run. Includes both keypad and keychain remote to arm/disarm it.
Additional optional sensors include vibration sensor, heat sensor, and flood sensor (like to monitor your basement in case your sump pump fails).
So far (a couple of months) it has worked flawlessly. Took about an hour to set up. Cost for the complete system was $140 with free shipping on Amazon Prime.
 

agoodman

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The biggest issues I see have been addressed, most insurance companies now require a live in innkeeper. Many zoning regs require this and even if it was not required before for the former innkeepers or for other inns, things may have changed. You would also have to have a lot more security and alarm systems in place IF they did allow I, knowing when people were coming and going, and who was coming and going. This is just personal and I kow others are different but unless I was in a standalone cottage I would not feel comfortable staying in the main house of an inn with no live in innkeeper - again, I know many do this successfully but you may want to ask around among your friends and family how he would feel, or even do a free survey using your email address book and Zoomerang o
 

Dcalfee

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Thanks, guys for all the helpful info! Yes I know its a lot of work and a lifestyle change. I have 3 books I'm reading now that are very helpful and I am shadowing at a B and B this week. I've written my business plan. I'm having estimates on the work that needs to be done at the prospective property and am talking with the state and county about regulations. So.....we shall see. I'm not rushing into anything. The property has been for sale for a couple years so I'm taking my time in checking everything out. Thanks again!
 

Copperhead

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Thanks, guys for all the helpful info! Yes I know its a lot of work and a lifestyle change. I have 3 books I'm reading now that are very helpful and I am shadowing at a B and B this week. I've written my business plan. I'm having estimates on the work that needs to be done at the prospective property and am talking with the state and county about regulations. So.....we shall see. I'm not rushing into anything. The property has been for sale for a couple years so I'm taking my time in checking everything out. Thanks again!.
Good! Sounds like you are doing your due diligence. Wishing you the best of luck what ever your future holds.
 
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