Frequently Asked Questions

How HouseSetter℠ Works

How do I install Sherlock?

It’s as easy as it can be. You simply take Sherlock out of his box, plug him in and he’s on duty. Where you put him is completely up to you, but we’d generally suggest a central location, out of direct sunlight, with his camera pointed toward something you’d like to see while you’re away.

Do I need to pay for a phone line, Wi-Fi or internet connection to make Sherlock work?

No, Sherlock’s service comes with its own built-in cellular network connection that’s already included in his amazingly low monthly price. So for as little as $5/month you get to cut the phone or cable cord and save the $30-50/month cost of leaving them on in an otherwise empty home. And he’ll work anywhere in the U.S. that has Verizon cellular coverage.

Will I need a separate contract with Verizon?

No, we build everything you need into Sherlock, including his connection to Verizon’s award winning cellular network, and it’s all included in your HouseSetter subscription.

Does HouseSetter require a long term contract?

Absolutely not. We’re not big fans of typical bait and switch service plans that promise low prices until you read the fine print and realize you’re committed for three years or more. Once you’ve purchased Sherlock you can select either a quarterly or annual service plan, giving you complete control and flexibility.

Why do I need Sherlock if I already have someone watching my home?

Think of Sherlock as a substitute for a live-in caretaker that never sleeps (or raids your refrigerator) that you’d love to have but couldn’t afford. So you hire someone else who comes every once in a while, or ask a neighbor to look through your windows occasionally, but what happens in between? Sherlock is the 24 by 7, in between peace of mind that not only works for you, but works with your local helpers to sense and respond to small problems before they become big ones. Sherlock can even send his emails and texts to four different places, allowing anyone you’d like to be better informed and better helpers.

Where did HouseSetter come from?

Sherlock was invented by the team that launched the award winning OnStar business in response to the frustrating lack of a simple and affordable way to keep an eye on a seasonal home in Florida. One thing led to another, and the result is HouseSetter. The good news is that we already had experience building much of the technology into millions of General Motors cars and trucks. The better news is that we improved many things along the way, including having Sherlock designed and built in the U.S.A.

I have two houses, do I need two Sherlocks?

We understand that you’re away from different homes during different seasons, so we designed Sherlock to be extremely portable. After you head back up north after a winter in the sunshine, just put Sherlock back in his factory box (it was designed for multiple shipments) and mail him back down to Arizona or Florida or wherever and have a friend plug him in – now he’s watching your other place.  A little sad that you never spend time together, but don’t worry he’ll keep in touch! And if you’ve got a cottage you visit occasionally, he’s happy to stay there full time and share the place with you on weekends.

Can I customize HouseSetter’s settings?

Sure. In addition to always monitoring for power outages, you can individually turn Sherlock’s temperature and humidity alerts on or off, and also change the high and low triggers  to meet your specific monitoring needs. And while we like the name Sherlock, you can also change his name. Some prefer Fluffy or Mozart, others Maple Street or Boston. It actually comes in handy if you’ve got more than one so you know who is sending you reports and alerts. We even have one named Salty, we think he’s on a boat … or maybe at a pretzel factory, hard to tell.

Our Story

We founded HouseSetter in 2012 with the idea of doing something disruptively important in home monitoring – to focus on the unique needs of second home owners and create the simplest, lowest cost way to keep an eye on their places while they were away. What we saw was that there are many choices in home monitoring but they’re almost exclusively focused on primary residences, with no real options focused on second homes. They’re typically designed for a broad range of things, from exterior surveillance to door and motion sensors, to home automation (controlling lights and thermostats) to live monitoring. Many rely on an existing Wi-Fi connection ($30-50/mo), involve expensive hardware and complicated installations, and often require long term service contracts. Those are all fine if you need them, but for many second home owners it’s more in some ways and less in others than they really need.

What if you started by focusing on the critical risks that an unoccupied home sitting vacant for weeks or months at a time has – like undetected broken pipes flooding the property, or air conditioner or furnace failures causing the catastrophic and hazardous growth of black mold, or the structural damage caused by frozen plumbing. And what about power failures? Sump pumps don’t work, electronic timers don’t reset correctly, freezers defrost, and if you were relying on Wi-Fi guess what – you’re out of business. Then there’s that special image you have of your home – your cozy living room, or that view through the kitchen window out onto the porch. You know what it’s supposed to look like when everything is fine, but how’s it doing when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away?

So what else would be important if you were specializing home monitoring for second homes? You’d want to eliminate the cost and hassle of paying $30-50/mo for an internet connection when you’re not there (something that’s also absolutely useless during a power outage) and replace it with something that has integrated cellular connectivity. You’d want the system to be incredibly easy to install and use (completely hassle free) and very flexible (no long term contracts). And finally you’d want it to be extremely affordable – a real easy decision.

Enter Sherlock, a house sitter (that we call HouseSetter since Sherlock’s a dog) that’s been specifically designed to be the perfect companion for your second home. He faithfully monitors temperature, humidity and can sense and report on power outages. He’s always on duty, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has a backup battery that lets him function for days without power. He’ll send you alerts anytime he detects a problem, and even if there isn’t a problem he’ll send a weekly email just to let you know that everything is fine. He’s smart enough to send you a picture of that special place in your home, and you can even check in anytime you’d like – just ask him for an OnDemand report. Installing Sherlock is easy, you just take him out of his box and plug him in and within a minute he’ll send you an email that lets you know he’s on duty. Sherlock’s amazingly inexpensive at $120, and with service as low as $5/month (no Wi-Fi necessary), he’s the most cost-effective house sitter on the planet.

We thought this was possible and important to do because we’ve done something like this before. The team that’s behind HouseSetter actually brings over 50 years of experience in launching and delivering OnStar’s lifesaving services to millions of subscribers. Instead of your car, we’ve substituted your second home. And instead of responding to crashes, we’re helping you respond to small problems before they become really big ones. And while there are differences, what’s the same is our strong commitment to deliver important peace of mind in a surprisingly simple and extremely affordable way.

Thanks for considering Sherlock as your house sitter.