CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct erroneous references to a specific type of exterior coating.

Q: We are considering listing our vacation home, and I have a question for you on whether it would be worth it to invest the money putting siding on it or selling it as is? The home is located on (a) golf course and has a magnificent view of the first hole and surrounding lakes and mountains.

We had the house exterior coated … about six years ago and it was supposed to offer lifetime protection from the elements (at a cost of $6,000). Unfortunately it did not. We had some bad spots patched and repainted but now they look bad again and we are not sure what would be best.

We could do a better patch job and have the exterior primed and painted (hopefully the paint will "stick" to the exterior coating), or we could have vinyl siding put up, or we could sell the house "as is." The interior of the house is in good shape; we just had new Pella windows and doors installed within the past year. What do you think?

A: In general, in a down real estate market such as we now have, I think the more a seller can do to make their home attractive the better their chances are of finding a buyer. It’s also important that the house shows that it has been well maintained, which is another reason to make whatever repairs are necessary before listing. In my personal opinion, selling a house "as is" should always be the last option, unless personal finances make that the only option.

That being said, it’s difficult to advise you on whether to repair and paint the existing siding or have the house completely re-sided. This is where your own research and the assistance of an experienced real estate agent come into play.

You need to take a walk or a drive around your immediate area, and see what comparable houses right on the golf course look like — especially any that are up for sale. This will give you a good indication of what buyers will expect to see in the neighborhood. Your real estate agent can call up comparable listings and sales for the area, so you can better understand what a realistic sales price will be.

If it costs a certain amount to have the house re-sided, and if you can realistically expect to recoup that investment in a higher sales price and a faster sale, then that’s the way to go. If you can patch and paint for a lot less money, and that’s what all the other homes in the area have done, then that might be the better option. All in all, I would probably lean toward painting, but be sure to verify that the exterior coating can be painted over.

You also mention using vinyl siding, which appeals to some people and doesn’t appeal to others. So before taking that route be sure that a vinyl-sided house is in keeping with what others in the area have done. Also, make sure that it’s allowed by your homeowners association.

One final thing, and this is directed at other readers, not at you (since I suspect you’ve already learned your lesson). Please don’t fall for "miracle" products! Stick with reputable, proven products from reputable, proven suppliers and installers. …CONTINUED

Q: My bathroom is very small but does have one west-facing window that allows in natural light. Any ideas to make this room appear larger?

A: There are a few tricks you can utilize to your advantage to make a small room seem larger:

  • First of all, stick with light colors on the walls and ceilings. That doesn’t mean you need to be limited to just white, but stay light and neutral.
  • Paint the trim a lighter color than the walls. This is a visual trick that makes the walls appear to recede somewhat.
  • The use of mirrors is always a good idea to make a room look larger. If possible, position the mirror so that it reflects the light coming from the window. If you can’t do that because of where the mirror needs to be positioned in relation to the sink, then instead of a mirror you might consider some sort of shallow wall hanging that is bright enough to reflect light.
  • Avoid window coverings that extend into the room. If you need a window covering for privacy, use a thin, light-colored blind or shade that mounts inside the window surround.
  • Add a light tube. This is an acrylic dome mounted on the roof, along with a tube that extends down to the ceiling. The dome lets in natural light, and the tube directs it to the room.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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