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home maintenance

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!

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.

Join us for our Fall Homebuying Happy Hour

By | Home Maintenance Tips | No Comments

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!

Safety tips and precautions for a carefree 4th of July

By | Home Maintenance Tips, Just for Fun, Seasonal Home Maintenance | No Comments

With our nation’s 243rd birthday upon us, you are likely making plans to celebrate the fourth of July in style. Before you take off for the lake or open your doors for the biggest barbecue of the summer, here are some considerations for your home:

Leave fireworks to the professionals. According to ADT, nearly 50,000 house fires are caused by fireworks each year. Never make your own fireworks or let children handle explosives. In case you did not know, it is illegal to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin. If you are in an area where you can set off your own display or if you use novelty items like sparklers and glow worms, remember never to point fireworks at any one, and only light these items in areas that are fire resistant.

Keep your extinguisher handy. Per your family’s fire safety plan, you should have a working fire extinguisher. Be sure to place it within arm’s reach, in addition to a bucket of water or your water hose. If you need to purchase a fire extinguisher, now is the time! Visit your neighborhood home maintenance store before the holiday.

Be the grill master, not a disaster. As you serve up your famous burgers, be 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 unwanted explosions.

By following these basic safety tips and taking easy precautions, you and your crew can enjoy Independence Day in carefree fashion. Stay safe and Happy 4th of July!

Bonus tip: It’s no secret that at Barfield, we love our pets and care about yours, too. That’s why we encourage you to leave your pets at home during the festivities, provide a safe space where they can find shelter during raucous celebrations, and keep glow sticks and fireworks out of their reach. For other great safety tips for Fido, visit PetMD. https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/care/fourth-of-july-pet-safety-tips

Tackle house chores while catching a tan in the sunny outdoors

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

House chores aren’t so bad when you can be outside on a beautiful day, catching a tan while you work! Why not kill two birds with one stone? We’ve compiled a list of home maintenance tasks to tackle while you’re spending time outside this summer. June is the perfect time to check these tasks off your list before it gets too hot! So, grab a hose, wrangle the family and get out there.

 

 

  1. Wash the outside of your house, including windows. That’s right, the outside of your house needs some love, too! There are several types of cleaning products made for spraying and cleaning the exterior of a house. Use a hose-end canister sprayer or a high-pressure washer to spray.
  2. Inspect your irrigation system. While you’re out throwing the football, look around for leaks or broken heads. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for water restrictions and program your system accordingly.
  3. Prune trees and shrubs so that branches do not come into contact with your house. Oak trees are an exception. Due to oak wilt, these trees should be pruned before February 1 and after June 30.
  4. Clean your deck. Summertime is the time for grilling out with friends. Make sure your deck is in shape for company! Sweep off grass, dirt and pollen and use a scrub brush to remove any clumps.
  5. Take a lap around the house. Move wood or debris away from the house to prevent pests from getting in.
  6. Clean the grill. For food safety, give the grill a good cleaning before cooking. Your guests will thank you!
  7. Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalks. You’d be surprised what a difference a clean driveway can make on your curb appeal.
  8. Mow the lawn. Pro tip – Keeping the grass cut longer can help prevent roots from drying out as quickly in the summer.

Have a great summer, y’all!

 

 

 

Invest your tax return on home maintenance

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

In addition to blooming wildflowers, festivals and an early taste of warm weather to come, spring brings a monetary delight for many: tax refund season. If, like the majority of Americans, your refund plans include making an investment, paying off debt or making a large purchase, here are some considerations for funneling that surplus into your home.

According to HGTV, saving one to three percent of your home’s purchase price for maintenance is a wise annual choice. Conveniently enough, the average tax return for 2018 is $3,000 which could account for a sizeable lump sum deposit for the median homeowner. Once you have a plan to stock up your reserve, here are some common household maintenance items you can expect to attend to throughout the year:

  • Texas limestone can leave you with hard water, leading to stained sinks and itchy skin. Install a water softener and maintain your salt levels regularly. Clean mineral deposits from your faucets.
  • Spring weather often means heavy rains and strong winds. Inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles and leaks, then contact an expert roofer from our preferred vendors list for help.
  • Assess your home’s air conditioning quality and consider having your system serviced. Change your air filters regularly, and while you’re atop that ladder, check your smoke detectors as well!
  • Account for any damage left from cold weather contraction by evaluating your door and window seals, as well as locks and door handles for wear and tear. Replace or repair weather caulking where needed with hvac companies in Chicago.
  • Prepare for a beautiful summer and add curb appeal by investing in landscaping and fertilizer for your lawn. Check your irrigation system and reference our preferred vendors for assistance.

You can also maximize your home maintenance budget by conserving water and electricity, and thereby reducing utility costs. Finally, save your hard-earned funds by considering a do it yourself (DIY) project, where time and experience allows.

Making routine improvements and adhering to regularly scheduled maintenance is an investment you can make in the life of your home. For more expert tips and advice, follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @barfieldhomeinspection.

Tell mosquitoes to buzz off this spring!

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

While we do appreciate the return of warm weather and sunshine, spring temperatures also mark the beginning of mosquito season in central Texas. If you have experienced mosquito season in Texas before, you know these pesky creatures can really ruin a good time. Not only are they annoying, but also dangerous. They can transmit diseases to both humans and pets. In Texas, mosquitoes can sometimes stick around until early winter. In the meantime, it is important to protect your home and your family.

Start off by sealing up your house. Keep your doors and windows closed in the evening and install screens as an extra precaution. If you already have screens, make sure to repair any holes or tears this month.

According to the Austin Public Health Department, the best way to fight mosquitoes is to remember the four D’s:

  • Dusk and dawn
  • Dress
  • DEET
  • Drain

DUSK TO DAWN is the most active time for mosquitoes. If you can avoid being outdoors during this time, you are less likely to have an encounter. However, summertime means backyard barbecues and lots of time outside on the porch, so if you are outside, remember to DRESS appropriately. The more covered you are, the better. If your skin is exposed, be sure to use insect repellent that contains DEET. Check out these myths and facts about DEET from OFF!® if you have questions about the effectiveness or safety of DEET.

Finally, DRAIN any places with standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Clean your gutters, fix any leaks, remove debris from your yard, and replace your pet’s water bowl often.

April is in full swing which means now is the time to act against mosquitoes! Remember the four D’s and check out the city of Austin website for more information on preventing mosquitoes and protecting your family from viruses.