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home inspector

Happy Holiday Decorating in 2020

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

Most of us can agree that we are looking forward to the holidays a little more than usual this year. After all, we could really use a reason to celebrate! Although yuletide festivities may look a little different than normal, it seems that many Americans have gone above and beyond in decorating their homes this season. Before you pull out the ladder, lights and tinsel, check out these tips and tricks that will help you save time, energy and help keep you and your home safe amidst all that sparkles this holiday season:

• Trim the tree. Whether you prefer a natural or artificial tree, be sure to keep it away from all heating sources in your home. Enough said.

• Keep a fire extinguisher handy. From trees to candles, to extra garland and tinsel, your home is likely filled with more décor than usual. Keep fire extinguishers in accessible locations throughout your home, and ensure everyone knows how to operate it if necessary. Most fire extinguishers operate using the following P.A.S.S. technique:
PULL the pin. This will also break the tamper seal.
AIM low, pointing the extinguisher nozzle (or its horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
NOTE: Do not touch the plastic discharge horn on CO2 extinguishers, it gets very cold and may damage skin.
SQUEEZE the handle to release the extinguishing agent.
SWEEP from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out. Watch the area. If the fire re-ignites, repeat steps 2-4.

• Turn all candles off before you turn in. A holiday favorite, candles provide ambient light and comforting fragrances of home. But if you’re likely to forget blowing these out on a nightly basis, turn to flameless instead.

• Whether you’re going full-on Clark Griswold or have something more tasteful in mind, you may find yourself on a ladder this month. Before you climb on board, check out Randy’s Ladder Safety Series and have someone stay at the ladder base to help stabilize and give you a hand if needed.

• Unfortunately, the most popular holiday plant, the poinsettia, can be harmful to pets and children. Be sure to keep these decorative displays out of harm’s reach.

We hope you have a wonderful time making your home warm, cozy and bright this holiday season, and that these tips go a long way to ensuring your safety in the process. For more tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

On behalf of the entire Barfield Home Inspection team, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

The Unexpected Impact of COVID-19

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Real Estate News | No Comments

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.

Join us for virtual home inspections as Austin residents stay-at-home

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Real Estate News | No Comments

Dear friends,

We hope this message finds you safe and healthy. These are unprecedented times. Barfield Home Inspection is here for you and we understand the feeling of uncertainty and the difficulties those in the real estate industry face. We are here to support you. As you may have seen, today Mayor Adler’s shelter-in-place orders take affect in Travis and Williamson counties through Monday, April 13.

Barfield Home Inspection will remain open to serve as many home buyers and sellers as possible during this critical time. ABOR advises no showings in Travis County and limited showings in surrounding areas to avoid in-person interaction as much as possible. Closings should continue as scheduled. In light of these orders and out of an abundance of caution, we are taking extra steps to safeguard you as realtors, sellers and buyers from in-person interaction with our team. The good news is business can continue. Here is how my team and I are conducting home inspections amidst COVID-19:

• Limiting and/or eliminating person-to-person interaction with a VIRTUAL HOME INSPECTION. Homeowners, buyers, and real estate agents do not need to be present at the time of inspection. In an effort to comply with social distancing and offer an added layer of safety for our clients, our team will proceed with the inspection inside the house without occupants inside the house at the time of inspection (approximately three-hour timeframe). Residents are welcome to spend time outside the home in the backyard or take a drive during the inspection.

At the end of the inspection, we will conduct a virtual meeting via FaceTime or Google Duo to recap the inspection and answer any questions. We will then vacate the premises and save the handshakes for later! We are proud to embrace the technology at hand to continue serving home buyers and sellers during this challenging time.

• N95 particulate respirator masks, boot covers and gloves worn at each inspection. We continue to wash and sanitize our hands thoroughly and often. Before and after each inspection we thoroughly wipe down and sanitize all equipment used.

The Barfield Home Inspection team also understands the importance of respirator masks for the medical community who face a shortage. Luckily, as home inspectors, we have this type of equipment on hand. We have reserved the few masks we need for home inspections and have donated the rest to those facing the front lines of the crisis. If there are other ways we can be of service, please contact me directly via text or call (512) 350-0123.

On behalf of the entire Barfield Home Inspection team, thank you for your partnership, your business and your trust. We are honored to continue to serve the Austin real estate community and appreciate your support. We will get through this and be stronger for it. Stay in touch and look for updates from our team by following us on Facebook and Instagram @BarfieldHomeInspection. In the coming weeks, we plan to provide additional resources for you and your clients as we all hunker down at home. Home improvement here we come!

Feel free to get in touch with any questions, and stay healthy out there,
Randy

Randy Barfield
Owner, Barfield Home Inspection
(512) 350-0123
randy@barfieldhomeinspection.com

Spring forward to sell your home

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Daylight saving time kicks off this weekend, and although we aren’t excited about the loss of precious sleep, we are looking gratefully forward to longer days, bright sunshine and warm Texas spring weather. While you’re busy checking your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, this is also a great time for sellers in Austin’s competitive real estate market to ready their home for buyers. Although it’s still a bit early to plant flowers, here are a few tips to spring forward in your home sale:

  • A clean, sparkling home will invite buyers and direct attention to all the right spaces. Start by cleaning your windows, inside and out, and wash your blinds to make an instant eye-opening difference. While you’re poking around the eyes of your home, be sure to inspect the weather stripping and caulking, which may be in need of repair.
  • Showcase the exterior of your home by mowing the lawn. A fresh cut will help remove leaves and other debris, leaving your yard clean and fresh. This is also a great time to cut back hedges around your home to maximize bright sunshine indoors. Visit the Central Texas Gardener for specific tips and tricks that can help boost your home’s curb appeal this spring.
  • Lower your gaze and take a long, hard look at your floors. The appearance of your floors can leave a lasting impression on prospective buyers, and you want to be sure it’s the right one! Start by vacuuming and mopping, but consider a professional cleaning or refinishing if needed.

In Austin’s hot market, buyers need to be as amply prepared as sellers. Here are a few tips for those looking to move into a new home this spring:

  • Know your credit score and budget. Our friends in the mortgage lending business will tell you this is a crucial part of the process. If you need help finding a lender, give us a call – we know excellent professionals who would be delighted to help you along your home-buying journey. Be sure to factor in closing costs, property taxes and insurance.
  • Once you are committed to buying in the upcoming months, contact your lender to get preapproved for a mortgage loan. While this is not a commitment or rate guarantee, getting preapproved will speed up the process down the road (which could give you the edge in a competitive market!).
  • Know who you want to work with. The right real estate agent and mortgage lender can make the process much less stressful and more enjoyable. Be sure to work with individuals who understand your needs, wants and priorities. When you’re ready to purchase a home and need an inspector you can trust, call Randy Barfield and the Barfield Home Inspection team. We’ve been telling it like it is since 2003 and would love to help you into the home of your dreams.

For more home buying, selling, maintenance and inspection tips, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tune into our new podcast “Under the Roof with Randy Barfield,” now streaming on Spotify and Stitcher!

Under the Roof with Randy Barfield: Podcast coming soon!

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Podcast | No Comments

We’re proud to present “Under the Roof with Randy Barfield,” streaming on a device near you in early 2020! This monthly podcast will cover home buying, home inspections, home maintenance, home selling and everything you need to know about homes, especially in the booming Austin market.

Take a listen now for more about what’s to come, and stay tuned for new monthly episodes airing soon!

How Groundhog Day Could Affect Your Pipes

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

The fate of Central Texas’ “winter” of 2020 all comes down to one day: February 2. On Sunday, Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow to look for his shadow. If he sees it, we can prep for six weeks of cold weather, but if he doesn’t see his shadow (due to a cloudy, shadowless day), bring on spring! While this iconic holiday is built on the pillars of American legend and lore, the team at Barfield Home Inspection want to ensure your home is prepared, just in case winter strikes!

With a careful eye on the forecast, February is generally the coldest month in our region. This is a great time to double-check the insulation on your pipes to ensure your water stays hot and your pipes stay open. Pipe insulation can help to save energy all year, and avoid plumbing catastrophes that can result in flooding and mold.

Check out this helpful guide from the folks at Home Depot for installing fiberglass pipe wrap and tubular insulation (pipe sticks):

To help ensure the highest quality of insulation, be sure to disconnect exterior garden hoses and use caulk to seal any cracks or holes near water pipes.

Have a great Groundhog Day and stay warm, regardless of what that Phil says! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest tips, tricks and real estate news from the Austin, Texas area.

Why the GFCI?

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

If you’ve ever woken up to a coffee pot that didn’t brew to its programmed specifications after an overnight storm, you know the frustration of a tripped outlet. While you may reset your ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet automatically and wait impatiently for your first cup of morning joe, ruminate on this: That GFCI may have just saved your life.

An electrical system can experience a number of different faults. Simply put, a fault is any abnormal flow of electricity. A ground-fault occurs when there is a break in the low-resistance grounding path from a tool or electrical system and the electrical current takes an alternative path to the ground. The danger comes in when a person enters the path of least resistance from the electrical current to the ground. Unfortunately, this can result in a serious shock or in extreme cases, death.

Before we get too grim, push pause on the panic and turn your attention to the GFCI. The GFCI, commonly found in residences, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. When the amount going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current.

According to OSHA,
“The GFCI is rated to trip quickly enough to prevent an electrical incident. If it is properly installed and maintained, this will happen as soon as the faulty tool is plugged in. If the grounding conductor is not intact or of low-impedance, the GFCI may not trip until a person provides a path. In this case, the person will receive a shock, but the GFCI should trip so quickly that the shock will not be harmful.”

Additionally, the GFCI protects against fires, overheating and destruction of wire insulation. Here are a few tips to help ensure you GFCI outlets stay in good working order:

  • Check the operation of all ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets by pushing the “test” button. The “reset” button should pop out indicating the receptacle is operating properly.
  • Check the GFCI safety breaker in your electrical panel. The buttons are typically white, yellow, or purple. Once the breaker has been tripped, move the breaker all the way to the “Off” position and then flip to the “On” position. If any breakers or outlets do not reset, contact a licensed electrical contractor to further evaluate.

While you may be shocked to learn the importance of your GFCI outlets, we hope this information is helpful and keeps you from experiencing an actual electrical charge. For more tips and tricks, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Happy circuit testing!

Join us for our Fall Homebuying Happy Hour

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Believe it or not, fall has begun! Although temperatures are still above average, so is performance in the local real estate market. Randy and the team at Barfield Home Inspection have just the answer to help you cool off and wrap your head around the biggest questions facing Austin home buyers and real estate agents alike: happy hour!

Mark your calendars and join us for our FREE Fall Homebuying Happy Hour, Thursday, October 3 from 4–6 p.m. You’ll hear from local real estate industry experts Randy Barfield of Barfield Home Inspection, Joani Ferris of Movement Mortgage, and Phillip Gunter of Farmer’s Insurance as we cover the latest trends and challenges in the marketplace, and what not to do when buying a home.

This is a great opportunity to network with Austin’s leading experts who can guide you through the home buying process, and the best part is that the advice, food and drinks are completely free! Enjoy delicious food, courtesy of grill master Randy Barfield, and drinks while our expert panel walks you through the what, when, how and whys of home buying. We will also hold a raffle to help get your home in tip-top shape for fall.

Realtors and home buyers are welcome to attend. Reserve your seat now. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and  Instagram for more events and year-round home maintenance tips. We hope to see you next Thursday!