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Prepping your home for fall football

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

You waited patiently through a mild winter, quick spring, and relentless summer, and it was all worth it, because tonight the NFL kicks off the 100th season of football pandemonium across the United States. Whether you are a professional or college football fan, or are just looking to spruce up your home a bit for the cooler relief of fall, here are a few tips to help you get kick started:

1) Throw a home football party. Clean your grill in time for kickoff and prepare to have a great time (as long as your team is winning). A clean grill looks better, is safer to use, and works better all around. Check out these tips from Popular Mechanics for regular cleaning, and deep cleaning, which we recommend performing twice each year.

2) Hang up your gardening hat for the fall. Make extra room in your backyard by putting away your gardening tools for the season. Before you store metal tools like rakes and shovels, scrape away any remaining soil, and spray exposed metal with a shot of WD-40 to promote longevity.

3) Clean your driveway and prep for selling this fall or winter. A good pressure wash can do wonders for your driveway and sidewalks. Just as dust can collect and create layers in your home, the same thing happens with dirt and grime in your driveway. Remove that layer of gunk for an entryway that creates an inviting appeal to your home. If you don’t own a pressure washer, home improvement stores usually rent these out for reasonable prices.

Following these tips should help to prepare your home’s exterior for fall and football weather. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more year-round home maintenance tips. Go team!

Maintain curb appeal and boost your home’s value

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

When preparing to sell your home, few things rank higher on the priority to-do list than enhancing curb appeal. Homeowners take pride in the exterior appearance and health of their home, and it is often the initial selling point for buyers. According to HomeLight, a well-landscaped home is likely to sell  at 5.5 to 12.7% more than one without landscaping, and 99% of realtors believe a home’s curb appeal is important in attracting a buyer.

Thankfully, our regional landscaping boasts native plants and grasses that tend to thrive in hot, dry Texas summers. However, August’s steady stream of triple digit heat poses threats to even the hardiest of plants and most scrupulous homeowners turned landscapers. Here are a few tips to help your lawn look its best through the end of the season, thanks in part to the local expertise of Central Texas Gardener:

  • Wait to plant, if you can. Extreme heat and dry soil team up to create an inhospitable welcome for new plants and seeds. If you must plant, be sure to provide shade and water daily.
  • Grow to new heights. Set your mower to a high setting, ideally two to three inches, to provide a layer of protection for grass roots. Leave clippings behind to offer an extra layer of protection and fertilization.
  • The best defense is a good offense. Guard your lawn against weeds by performing regular maintenance. From mowing the lawn to spot treating weeds when you see them, you can minimize the spread of weeds. Be sure to use a hand sprayer, and avoid “Weed and Feed” products that can cause damage to other plants and potentially fertilize weeds they don’t control.
  • Check for bugs. Ever noticed a waxy film on your crape myrtles and other flowering trees? Honeydew secretions left behind by aphids and other insects can create sooty, black mold. Blast this off with water on a regular basis.
  • Water smarter, not harder. While we live in a drought prone area, plants need water to survive. Water your lawn every three to five days, and plants according to their individual needs, during the early morning or late evening. Allow plants to dry out between watering so oxygen can reach the root system and promote new growth.

Following these local tips should help keep your landscape in tip-top shape through the most rigorous months of Texas summer. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more year-round home maintenance tips. Stay cool and remember to drink lots of water while maintaining your home’s curb appeal!

New home starts in ATX suburbs near record pace driven by road construction

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Looking ahead to fall, there seems to be a new housing trend on the rise. More and more people are moving to the ‘burbs! Thanks to improvements in infrastructure and new roads, the suburbs are becoming increasingly more accessible. Not to mention, living outside the city means more wide-open space and less hustle and bustle.

Although construction around town can be irritating, these improvements are paying off for the Austin and its surrounding areas. Check out the article below from CBS Austin to learn more about the rise in ATX suburb homes.

New home starts in ATX suburbs near record pace driven by road construction
CBS Austin | By Fred Cantu
(Originally published on July 25 on CBS Austin News)


Just like a typical Central Texas summer, the local real estate market continues to be hot. And the forecast for new home sales for the rest of 2019 is expected to end up comparable to 2018, but with more sales happening outside Austin. More people are choosing to buy their new homes outside Austin, not just because there are still wide-open spaces out there but because there are wider freeways to get you there.

New home sales in Central Texas are so strong right now developers can’t keep up with demand. Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for MetroStudy, adds, “We had a spike in home closings which is really interesting because it shows a strong demand in Austin.”

Areas developing as fast as they can include the communities of Liberty Hill, Cedar Park and Leander in Williamson County. O’Grady explains, “Williamson has really grown the most, and part of the reason for that is because they really invested in transportation in Williamson County, and people will go where they can find an easy commute.”

And you’ll get no argument from Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. He says, “Williamson County I think is the most forward leaning county in Texas when it comes to the infrastructure that helps residents move from point A to point B.”

Hays County is also working to improve access to the interstate… and it’s paying off. Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra notes, “One of the biggest development areas in Hays County are the cities of Buda and Kyle in our I-35 corridor. So it’s no accident people want to live near where they can get on the roadway.”

Even with all the demand, builders had a 7% drop-off in the number of new home starts. But they say it was due to a shortage of available lots, a problem that they say has been addressed. O’Grady explains, “We had record lot deliveries during the quarter, so this supply problem is likely short term because developers worked really hard on to put lots on the ground. And the good news is those lots are going in where we really need them.”

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Talking Foundations with Randy: What to Expect

By | Home Inspection Reality Show, Home Maintenance Tips, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

Watch as Randy Barfield, founder and owner of Barfield Home Inspection, takes on this house’s foundation. In this video, you will learn how a home inspector looks at foundation and how he makes sure your house is level. You will also gain tips on how to keep up maintenance of your foundation so that it stays healthy.

When you need home tips, look no further than Texas’ own Randy Barfield–telling it like it is since 2003.

Thanks for watching!

Grillin’ and Chillin’ for July 4th!

By | Just for Fun | No Comments

Happy fourth of July everyone! Get ready for some grillin’ and chillin’ for the holiday. Randy will be cooking up his famous brisket so we thought we would share the celebration with you.

When it comes to good Texas brisket, Randy knows the key is cookin’ it low and slow. Roast at 1 hr to 1:30 minutes per lb. at around 225 degrees, until the internal temperature is around 200-205 degrees. See below for a borrowed recipe from Epicurious. If you want Randy’s secret brisket recipe, you’ll have to ask him yourself!

YIELD: Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

For dry rub
1/2 cup paprika
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 7 1/2- to 8-pound untrimmed whole beef brisket
For mop
12 ounces beer
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chilies
5 pounds (about) 100% natural lump charcoal
4 cups (about) oak or hickory wood smoke chips, soaked in cold water at least 30 minutes
1 cup purchased barbecue sauce (such as Bull’s-Eye)
1 tablespoon chili powder
PREPARATION

Make dry rub:
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend.

Transfer 1 tablespoon dry rub to another small bowl and reserve for mop. Spread remaining dry rub all over brisket. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.

Make mop:
Mix first 6 ingredients plus reserved dry rub in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat 5 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup mop into bowl; cover and chill for use in sauce. Cover and chill remaining mop.

Following manufacturer’s instructions and using natural lump charcoal, start fire in smoker. When charcoal is ash gray, drain 1/2 cup wood chips and scatter over charcoal. Bring smoker to 200°F. to 225°F., regulating temperature by opening vents wider to increase temperature and closing slightly to reduce temperature.

Place brisket, fat side up, on rack in smoker. Cover; cook until tender when pierced with fork and meat thermometer inserted into center registers 185°F., about 10 hours (turn brisket over for last 30 minutes). Every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, add enough charcoal to maintain single layer and to maintain 200°F. to 225°F. temperature; add 1/2 cup drained wood chips. Brush brisket with chilled mop in pan each time smoker is opened. Transfer brisket to platter; let stand 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 1 hour. Wrap in foil; chill. Before continuing, rewarm brisket, still wrapped, in 350°F. oven about 45 minutes.) Combine barbecue sauce and chili powder in heavy small saucepan. Add any accumulated juices from brisket and bring to boil, thinning sauce with some of reserved 1/2 cup mop, if desired.

Thinly slice brisket across grain. Serve, passing sauce separately.

Recipe originally shared on Epicurious.com.

 

Cool House Tour 2017

By | Cool Homes | No Comments

On Sunday, June 11, Barfield Home Inspection’s owner and founder Randy Barfield had his home featured as part of the 21st Annual Cool House Tour, a collaboration of Austin Energy Green Building (AEGB) and the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES).

A home inspector like Randy Barfield sees thousands of houses each year and since 2003, Randy has seen it all. When it comes to homes, he knows what to look for. It’s only natural that he decided to build his own home with his wife Keri a few years ago. It has been a lifelong dream to build an eco-friendly home with sustainable materials on land where he can relax and watch the sunset after a long day of home inspecting. Randy and Keri have spent years perfecting the floor plans and layout for their eco-friendly, modern home at 1100 Rutherford Drive in Driftwood.

The design of this home captures the wide open space of the Texas Hill Country in the midst of a rural subdivision. Each detail was planned and thought out using Randy’s knowledge of what makes a home durable and long-lasting. The street facing side of the house has a double stone wall with minimal penetrations for privacy. The rear elevation features northwest oriented glass facing a 500-acre greenbelt that provides protected views and additional sanctuary. The northwest windows and sliding doors offer natural daylighting as well as indoor/outdoor living space with minimal heat gain. The southwest facing 16.5” thick stone wall blocks summer sun exposure, keeping the interior temperature stable, providing both comfort and lower energy bills. A carport/workshop/courtyard on the west side also protects the house from heat gain and provides future live/work flex space. A 10kW solar array complements the energy saving passive design and provides for most of the home’s energy needs. A standing seam galvalume shed roof was designed to collect water efficiently and supply a 24,000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank for potable water and irrigation.

See photos and videos from the Cool House Tour on our Facebook page here: facebook.com/barfieldhomeinspection.

 

 

Le Casa Desnuda: A Home Inspector’s Dream Home Come True

By | Cool Homes | No Comments

By Randy Barfield

I have had a dream for many years to build not only a dream home but a home that was built around energy efficiency with solar and rainwater collection, while at the same time being low maintenance. My wife Keri and I also wanted to build a home that would be a retreat—a welcoming place for everyone who came to visit. That is when “La Casa Desnuda,” The Naked House, was born. The name, for us, meant leave all your worries and troubles at the front door—come in, relax and enjoy.

(left to right: Native Builders, Keri and Randy Barfield, Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture)

I have inspected more than 10,000 homes in my 14-year career as a Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) professional home inspector and owner of Barfield Home Inspection. I have also worked on many homes as a builder and remodeler. I was also trained under the Austin Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) program, Austin Energy and the Building Performance Institute. With this experience and knowledge acquired, it was the perfect next step to build the home of our dreams.

We knew we wanted a unique house, one that was not only energy efficient but was also an expression of what we valued in a home, a bright open space with friends and family, an oasis of birdsong and beauty. In order to achieve this, the first step was to find the right place to settle down and then the right people to make our dream a reality.

We purchased a beautiful piece of property in Driftwood, Texas five years ago. Located in the heart of the Texas hill country, we had the views, the sunsets and the wildlife. It was the perfect location.

Kimberly Kohlhaas was a friend and architect of two mutual friends who also had homes on the Cool House Tour. We knew she had to be the one to design our house. Kimberly discussed with us all of our dreams and ideas for the house and began the design with her partner Francois Lévy in the architecture firm Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture. We then had to find a builder that could take our ideas and dreams and designs and make them a reality.

5 Tips for Buyers to Have a Successful Home Inspection

By | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

By | Contributor, U.S. News & World Report
(Originally published on Oct. 18, 2016 in U.S. News & World Report)

FE_PR_091112Sellhomewinter_Inspect.jpg

Attend the home inspection to learn more about the property you’re interested in buying. (ISTOCKPHOTO)

 

Throughout the homebuying process, you will encounter a number of expenses including, but certainly not limited to, an appraisal, transaction fees and a survey – but none is more important than the home inspection. Dollar for dollar, there is no better use of your money, as a home inspection will not only outline the strengths and weakness of the house you are buying, but will show you how to operate it.

Choosing the Right Type

When you sit down with your real estate agent to prepare your offer, he or she will go over the different types of inspections you can choose from. While there are different inspection options – radon, pest and mold, among others – you first want to steal with a standard home inspection.

There are primarily two different types of home inspections – the home and general inspection (the names may differ depending on your location). There’s no difference in the way the inspector approaches the property or with the report he generates – it’s how that information is used that makes it unique.

A home inspection is arguably the more classic option. Based on the report you receive, you will send a notice to the seller asking for either certain items to be fixed prior to settlement, or a dollar amount be credited toward your closing costs.

The general inspection, on the other hand, is for informational purposes only. While it allows you a full inspection and often gives you the right to walk away based on those results, it does not provide an opportunity for items to be fixed or a credit given in negotiations.

Choosing Your Inspector

Every individual involved in the homebuying process must be top-notch. This is likely the biggest investment of your life and understanding what you are getting yourself into is of the utmost importance. With this in mind, be sure you choose a tried and true inspector you can trust to overlook nothing and provide your report in a timely, organized manner.

The first person to talk to for referrals is your real estate agent. Most agents have likely encountered the good, the bad and the ugly of the home inspecting world and found a few professionals they trust. Make sure your inspector is actively licensed and a member of a trade association, like the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors or American Society of Home Inspectors, and other local professional groups. Members of professional organizations are often held to a higher standard and have gone through more rigorous training to be associated with an industry group.

Finally, ask if the inspector will allow you to see a sample inspection report. While you’ll receive all the information during the time of the inspection, the sheer amount of details can be overwhelming. Seeing a report in advance helps to prepare you for the information to come, and how it can be used as a negotiation and recordation tool as well.

Owner’s Manual

Whether this is your first home or 10th, each house offers its own quirks and there’s no owner’s manual provided. It’s highly recommended you attend the inspection, as the inspector will provide useful information throughout the process of not only the pros and cons of the property, but show you how everything works as well.

An inspector will give you a plethora of information, from which way to point your air filter to where the main water shutoff valve is and how old all your major systems are. While the age and condition of many systems and appliances will be noted in the report, an explanation of how to use everything isn’t standard in written form. Bring a notepad and jot down useful information throughout the process.

Using the Report

After the inspector has gone through the entire property and provided the report, take time to review it carefully and ask any questions to either your agent or the inspector so you fully understand what you’re reading.

As you read the report, it’s important to remember the inspector is acting as a primary care physician, and should anything need further evaluation you’ll be referred to a specialist. If the home inspector finds evidence of mold or a pest problem, for example, they’ll recommend to you talk to a mold abatement specialist or exterminator to discuss the work needed to alleviate the problem.

Every negotiation is unique and should be handled as such. That said, there are general guidelines when handling a post-inspection negotiation. First, if there are any major components that are obviously broken and in need of major repair or replacement – such as heating and cooling systems, roof and windows – go after those and don’t sweat the small stuff. You want to make sure you take care of the important items that are needed for your house to function optimally.

If there aren’t any major items to take care of, it’s time to sweat the small stuff. Create a list in order of what you consider most important to least, and present it to the sellers and make sure they understand where your priorities lie.

Finally, if you prefer to oversee the repair or update work yourself and opt for a credit from the seller, make sure you’re able to ask for the amount per the guidelines of the loan by consulting your lender. There is typically a percentage (commonly 3 to 6 percent) you are allowed to receive in total credits. Should the amount be in excess of what you need, you simply won’t receive it and it goes back in the seller’s pocket.

Keep in mind … It is important to remember several things during and after your inspection. First, inspectors can’t see through walls. While their inspection is certainly thorough, it does not include things they can’t see. Also, an inspection assesses the property as it is that day. Things change, and so do the components within the house.