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Do It Yourself


Should she repaint before she sells?

By Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton
Peter Hotton has been the handyman expert for the Boston Globe for more than 30 years.

Q: My house – a modified Cape built in 1957 – is solid and in decent condition. Inside, there are a few minor flaws. Although they are minor, to take care of them would definitely require repainting most of the rooms and some ceilings afterward. I’m not young, and just thinking of everything that is involved is almost more than I can contemplate. Would it be worthwhile undergoing such a complete turmoil, not to mention the cost involved, or should I just lower the price of the house when I want to sell it?

A: Sit tight and let the brickbats or compliments come along when you sell. So it is shabby? Refurbishing several rooms is unlikely to make the house more attractive or more expensive. Kitchens and bathrooms are most likely to attract buyers and earn a little extra. In most cases, nothing much else will matter because many buyers are already thinking about what they want to do with the new digs. Save yourself a lot of time and anxiety, and let the buyers fight it out.

Q: Our contractor installed a Wincore 36-by-84-inch fiberglass door with a polystyrene core painted black. Though the door is in direct sun all morning, we had no problems until a new Andersen storm door was installed. Now the heat buildup between the entry door and the storm door is so intense there is a noticeable and objectionable chemical smell which permeates the first floor (coming through the wide brass mail slot in the door.) It smells like creosote. We have had to remove the glass in the storm door and replace it with the screen until we can figure out what to do.

The Wincore people say the problem is not with their door but with the Andersen door. For being efficient and doing what it’s supposed to do? That seems odd to me. The contractor says it’s not his fault because he warned me repeatedly about heat buildup with a black door. That is true, he did. He never mentioned anything about a smell, though. Could there be a problem with the paint? I called Home Depot to inquire about buying ANOTHER entry door to replace the Wincore and was told the smell should not happen under the circumstances I describe.

Short of replacing the new door with another, do you have any suggestions?

A: A pox on them all for blaming one another. It is simple: You don’t need a storm door with one of those well-insulated fiberglass doors of any color because it will cause the temperature to go up way over 100 degrees. You are the only one who did it right by putting a screen in place of the glass in the storm. Or, replace the storm with a full screen door that you can put up and down each season. Send that Andersen back, and get a refund.

Q: Chipmunks chewed all the wiring out of my car. I don’t have a garage or any other way to protect the wires. I replaced them for $1,700, and the critters did it again! What can I do?

A: Check out all the animal repellents at big box or hardware stores. Or, find a garage to rent and make it critter-proof.
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