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Pressure Washing 101

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Weekend warriors around the country have noticed one thing in common since March 2020: Regardless of business restrictions, one group that has stayed consistently busy (and perhaps even surged in demand) is home improvement. While Americans have more time at home to assess and enhance their surroundings, hardware stores have become the place to go as homeowners flock with mile long honey-do lists.

In case your list has run low or you’re looking for a way to make your home’s curb appeal shine even brighter, pressure washing is an excellent way to deep clean your home. Pressure washers utilize high-pressure water measured in pounds per square inch (psi) to remove tough stains from a variety of surfaces. They are available for sale and rent in both gas and electric, portable and stationary models. Once you find the pressure washer that’s right for you, familiarize yourself with the settings and safety operating instructions, as this is a significant piece of machinery.

When you’re ready to get started, here are a few ideas of projects you can accomplish at home with a pressure washer:

  • Blast years’ worth of dirt from your driveway in record time using a pressure washer. Whether you own or rent the equipment, be sure to read the safety manual and follow the proper operating procedures and precautions. Sweep the driveway and sidewalk before you start to remove surface-level debris that may become airborne. Hold down the spray handle and sweep back and forth in broad, overlapping strokes from one side of the concrete to the other. Your neighbors (and potential buyers) are sure to be impressed!

Pro Tip: Use the same method for your patio to stop tracking dirt inside the house!

  • Give your home a face lift with a good wash. While elbow grease is helpful, pressure washing can eliminate dirt, mildew, and grime from your home’s exterior in much less time. Whether your home is finished with brick, wood, aluminum, stucco or steel, pressure washing on a yearly basis is a great idea to keep it looking new! Before you begin, read the manual carefully to ensure you follow the settings for your home’s exterior, and then use a top-down method to wash away the gunk. While you’re at it, be sure to pressure wash your windows.

Pro Tip: If you are pressure washing in preparation for paint, be sure to give the home at least two days to thoroughly dry before you begin.

  • Refinish your fence. We all know good fences make good neighbors, but after taking a daily beating from the sun, wind, and rain, even the sturdiest of fences can look a little run down. Use detergent, medium pressure, and a sweeping fan pattern to restore your fence with a pressure washer. After two days, you can seal or paint your fence for the ultimate DIY makeover.

Pro Tip: Pressure wash your fence once a year to keep it looking new (annual painting not required!).

As we continue to spend more time at home, it’s great to cherish and take care of the spaces we love. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection for more home maintenance tips from the company that’s been telling it like it is since 2003. Stay safe and happy washing!

UNDER THE ROOF WITH RANDY BARFIELD PODCAST: Read the Dang Report!

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Ever wondered what information is contained within the home inspection report? Well, open it up and find out!
In this episode of Under the Roof with Randy Barfield, we walk through the ins and outs of the inspection report and its intrinsic value for homeowners. Ever wondered where your water heater is located? Read the report! Do you know how old your heating and cooling system is? Read the report! What was the Delta T at the time of your home inspection? Read the report and find out.
The home inspection report is your inspection team’s way of giving you the 411 on your home. Follow along with Randy, Mary and Ashley to learn just how helpful this document can be, especially in competitive buying situations. Thanks for listening! And as always, when you need a home inspection team you can trust, we’ve been telling it like it is since 2003. Give us a call at 512.350.0123 to schedule your inspection and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more home maintenance tips!

Read the Dang Report!

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If you’re looking to buy a home in and around Austin, Texas this fall, we have two words for you: Good Luck! The Austin real estate market is always as hot as our notorious summers, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added a competitive edge to the situation. Record low inventory combined with sky high demand creates a true sellers’ market.

While it’s not uncommon for multiple offers to result in a bidding war, we are seeing homes sell for $20-50,000 over their listing price this season. Even though we’ve been in the home inspection business for nearly 20 years, we are seeing things we’ve never seen before. Because many buyers fear they will not be able to get their desired property, they go in over asking price and with two-to-three-day option periods. To give you an idea, this time last year we saw an average of 14-21-day option periods.

As buyers make “as-is” purchases to secure their dream home, they sometimes ignore or even discard the home inspection report. Don’t make this mistake! The report is an investment in the life of your home and covers important facts you may have questions about in the future. Where’s your water heater? Look in the inspection report! How old is the HVAC? Look in the inspection report! You get the picture.

Take a tip from Randy’s toolkit and read the dang report! At the very least, you’ll learn about the status of your foundation, roof, and heating and cooling system which can help prepare for expenditures down the road.

Remember, at Barfield Home Inspection, we are licensed, trained and insured professionals who take your home inspection seriously. We don’t sugar coat things – we tell it like it is for the safety of you and your home.  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection for more home maintenance tips from the company that’s been telling it like it is since 2003.

UNDER THE ROOF WITH RANDY BARFIELD PODCAST: Home Irrigation 101

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The dog days of summer are upon us in Central Texas! While we welcome the occasional summer shower, days are long and hot and water tends to run a little low. Learn everything you need to know about maintaining your lawn and foundation with your home’s irrigation system. From programming your controller to understanding what your lawn really needs, Randy covers it all in this edition of Under the Roof. Thanks for listening!

Mitigate Summer Fire Risks

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Well friends, the dog days of summer have officially arrived! If news reports of drought conditions aren’t enough to convince you that it’s hot and dry out there, check out California’s “Firenado” that touched down earlier this week. While staying cool and comfortable is top-of-mind, this is a great opportunity to survey your home for fire risks and mitigate wherever possible.

  • Water your lawn. Whether you use an irrigation system (which we detailed during last month’s Under the Roof series) or manual sprinklers, follow local guidelines and try to water twice a week on your designated days. It’s hot out there and your grass needs water as much as you do to ward off this heat. A well-irrigated lawn is less likely to catch ablaze if a stray spark tries to ignite
  • Clean the lint trap and dryer vent. According to the American Red Cross, dryers are responsible for nine out of 10 house fires. Clean your lint trap each time you take clothes out of the dryer and consider having your dryer vent checked and serviced to keep it in good, safe running condition.
  • Survey your kitchen. Let’s face it – intense heat and open flames mean that most fires start in the kitchen (and we all know what happened with the Pearson’s finicky Crock-Pot). Eliminate risks where you can. Ensure towels and paper towel dispensers aren’t too close to your stove, and check to make sure your microwave’s vents aren’t obstructed. Keep a working fire extinguisher under your kitchen sink and make sure everyone in the home knows how to use it if needed.
  • Be the grill master, don’t cause a disaster. Although it’s toasty, it’s still summer and in Texas that means we grill and smoke as much as possible. As you enjoy outdoor time, make sure your grill is at least two feet away from all surfaces. This includes fencing, decks, outdoor equipment, and yes, your home. Check propane tanks for cracks, holes and leaks which can cause explosions.
  • Take the proper precautions. Ensure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order and review your fire safety plan so the whole family is on the same page.

As we continue to spend more time at home, it’s more important than ever to protect the spaces we love. Stay safe, stay cool and remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection for more home maintenance tips from the company that’s been telling it like it is since 2003.

The Unexpected Impact of COVID-19

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When it comes to great places to live, few places hold a candle to Austin, Texas. The vibrant culture, thriving economy, delicious food and beautiful scenery top the ongoing list of reasons we love it here. When you have a place this desirable to live, it’s inevitable that people will move to the number one city in the United States from all over the country and the world. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons our business and client base continue to grow year-over-year, even despite the 2008 recession and the current pandemic.

As we navigate this critical time in history, it seems like a great opportunity to examine the consequences of COVID-19 on the Austin real estate market. While some of these effects are more expected than others, here’s a snapshot of the things we see out in the field:

  • Houses are selling…Fast! Just as we discussed on the last episode of Under the Roof, homes in Austin and the surrounding areas are selling quickly. Mortgage rates are low, buyers are motivated, and early trends indicate people are moving to larger homes with more room to spread out, since social activities are less abundant than usual. While this is great news for sellers, it means buyers should be prepared for competition as inventory remains low.
  • People are moving out. Although sales in Austin city limits continue to soar, individuals are seeking more space, both within their home and on their property. For many buyers, this means a turn from condo-style living to single family homes on larger lots where available. For the unique cities and towns that surround Austin, this is good news.
  • Option periods are slim. The typical option period on a home purchase is seven days. During this time, the buyer has the home inspected and can cancel the contract for any reason. In other words, this is where we come in! However, due to heavy demand we are seeing option periods as narrow as three days, which creates a quick turnaround for the inspection team. At Barfield Home Inspection we are careful not to overbook, so we can give each and every home our careful attention and keep telling it like it is!
  • Purchases must be planned. Just as buyers need to be pre-approved and offer-ready, now is a good time to educate yourself on what commodities are available. Due to high retail demand and the trickle-down effects of reduced manufacturing during the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, buyers may find that many items are as scarce as Clorox wipes. If, for example, your new home purchase means you will need to buy large appliances or furniture, do your homework now to find out what is available and set proper expectations for the wait.

Although the situation continues to unfold, we are grateful that Austin’s housing market continues to thrive in 2020. The Barfield Home Inspection team takes social distancing and safety precautions seriously to protect home buyers, sellers and agents at each home we visit. Stay in the know and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more details about Austin real estate and home maintenance.

Keep the bugs at bay!

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As if there wasn’t enough to be concerned about in 2020, it’s officially time to warn you: the bugs will be here soon, if they haven’t arrived yet! Thankfully, we aren’t talking murder hornets (although we advise you to be on the lookout!). While Texas is home to some real creepy crawlers, think the brown recluse, tarantula, and Texas redheaded centipede, ants and mosquitoes are more common. Even docile pests can be a nuisance to your health and your home.

Summer is peak for pests. Between warm (hot!) weather, doors opening and closing more often due to activities, and barbecues, your home may be more susceptible to pests during this time. Insects like ants, spiders and cockroaches may visit in search of food and water. In addition to spraying for pests or hiring a pest control service, follow these tips to secure your home’s perimeter and ward off crawling, flying and munching invaders:

• Clear the debris. Trash, leaves, lawn clippings and clutter around your yard can create a literal breeding ground for insects and a safe haven for other pests like snakes (eek!). Clean your gutters and keep these spaces clean to show these villains they are unwelcome.

• Seal them out. Seal any cracks and large openings around your foundation, water and gas pipes, windows, doors and cable lines. A quick shot of clear sealant will help to keep the pests out and your cool air in.

• Close your doors –  tightly. In addition to keeping exterior doors shut as much as possible, make sure your weather sealing is in good, tight condition. If you find yourself constantly running in and out to manage the grill or hop in the pool, invest in an inexpensive mesh screen door to keep the villains out.

• Go with the flow. What’s your home’s biggest enemy? Water! By eliminating water sources, you’ll help deter bugs and preserve your foundation. Consider using stone or cedar mulch close to your house. Check outdoor faucets for leaks and use gutter downspouts to help water flow away from your home.

• Give it a trim. Insects get hungry, too! Trim limbs and shrubs that grow close to your home, as these provide food sources, refuge and runways to your home for tiny critters.

These easy-to-follow weekend warrior tips can save you time and literal pain down the road. Keep the pests at bay and your home safe this summer. For more home maintenance tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Stay healthy, cool, and safe out there!

Tips to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

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If you need a sign that summer is upon is, take one step outside! It’s June and heat has returned to Central Texas.

While keeping yourself, your family, and your pets (AKA furry family) cool should be top of mind, take a few minutes to consider how you’ll keep your home cool this summer. The weather almanac claims Austin and the surrounding areas top 100° F an average of 16 days per year; those of us who live here know it’s more, and often feels like much more than that! By following these easy steps, you can make your home a more comfortable oasis and save a few bucks while you’re at it:

    • Cover your windows. Although it’s tempting to let the summer sunshine in, it’s impossible to welcome the rays without the heat. Whether you opt for blinds, curtains, or solar screens, window coverings that reflect the light will also reduce the heat intake. Window coverings can enhance the beauty of your home and create a more tolerable living environment in the summer. Bonus: Because your rooms will be cooler, you may notice that blinds and curtains mean your AC runs less often.
  • Keep your windows tightly sealed. “In or out!” How many times did you hear that plea from cost-conscious relatives during the summer as a child? Well, they weren’t joking around. Keeping your windows and doors closed can make a significant impact on your home’s internal temperature and cooling costs. Check your windows and doors to see if any weather stripping needs to be repaired or replaced to ensure cool air can’t escape. Bonus: If you need to have windows repaired or replaced, check our preferred vendors list for local professionals who can help.
  • Employ ceiling fans. Embrace a force of nature in your home: wind. Paddle ceiling fans and portable fans cost much less to run than your air conditioner. Remember to set fans to run clockwise (when looking up) during summer months. Bonus: Because fans require that you feel the breeze, it only makes sense to run them when you’re in the room to feel the difference. Remember to turn off fans when you leave a room.
  • Conserve hot water. Large appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine create tons of heat and humidity that can take time to dissipate from your home. Along with hot showers and running other electronics, like your TV and PC, this all results in heat. Reduce these activities, especially during the heat of the day, and remember to run exhaust fans in your bathroom and utility room as necessary. Bonus: This tip affects not only your electric bill, but also monthly utilities.
  • Change those air filters! You knew we were getting here, didn’t you? Air filters truly are the heart and soul of your home’s AC system. Air filters purify the air you breathe, leaving behind an array of dust and contaminants in their folds. Because the air runs more in the summertime, filters fill up faster. Be sure to change these monthly to keep cool, clean air flowing. Bonus: If you are looking to sell your home this summer, your inspector will definitely check those filters, so it pays to keep them clean.

While these tips aren’t miracles, they will help reduce the time your AC runs this summer and by proxy reduce your cooling costs. As for staying cool outside, we recommend a nice shaded spot by the pool! For more home maintenance tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Stay healthy, cool, and safe out there!