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Selling your house can cause a bigger headache than buying it ever did. Things you might not have had to deal with leap to the forefront for you to mull over and handle. Reader Lee asks a few great questions for those of the Mr. Fix-it persuasion.

My wife and I are selling our house (it just went under contract), and we’re starting to worry about the home inspection. There are a few things that I know are going to come up, but I’m not sure how to fix them myself. Here’s the list:

(1) There is a 6″ crack in our kitchen’s white laminate countertop. I was thinking of filling the crack with epoxy and painting over it, but I’m not sure if that’s the best/cheapest way to fix it.

(2) There is an 8″ black water stain in one plank of the hardwood flooring next to one of our toilets. I’ve heard of using Oxalic acid to bleach the stain out, then re-stain that part of the floor to match, but again, I’m not sure if this is the best way.

(3) One of the pieces of wood (about 10′ long) on the bottom of an overhang (just beneath the rain gutter) has rotted and begun to sag. I’d imagine that you just have to cut the piece of wood out and replace it, but what kind of wood do I use? Is there an easy way to remove the old piece?

Well, Lee, most of the tips you’re going to find on home inspection are geared toward the buyer not the seller. However, judging from your questions, you’re already putting yourself in the frame of mind of the buyer — that’s a good start.

You can replace that overhang wood pretty easily, especially if it’s painted. You could start with pine or fir (one of those was most likely used in the first place) — or you can cut off a little piece of it and find out what it is. Our helpful readers might be able to offer some pointers on this, and the other items on your list as well.

One sure way to go: Find a local handyman of good reputation, and ask. Get some eyes on the specifics of your issues, and they might be able to point you where you need to go.


8 Responses to Reader Question: Fixing The House For Sale

  1. Lee says:

    Thanks for posting this, guys! It’s funny… Not 30 minutes after I emailed my questions to you, I received a call from our agent saying that the inspection is scheduled for 10:00 tomorrow morning! Looks like I’m going to be pulling an all-nighter tonight. So, I welcome any of your suggestions!

  2. Josh says:

    Regarding your counter top, you might do as well to resurface the laminate. I’ve seen it done, though not done it myself. I would also wonder whether the contact cement would work adhering the two layers of laminate (as you won’t get the old one off). Its worth some research because kitchens are one of the bigger selling points in a house.

  3. Frank Townend says:

    If the house is under contract, and the inspection details these items, fixing them is negotiable. I would wait until after the inspection and the seller’s response. You might fix the counter (your time and money) when perhaps they were going to replace it with something else after moving in.

  4. Old Coot says:

    I agree with Frank Townend. Why bust your chops in the next few hours attempting “fixes” that may end up looking worse (due to haste and/or fatigue) than what you started with. Let the inspection happen; it will likely spot the problems you’ve discovered and a few others. Then let the buyer decide how much these issues matter to him/her. You’ll then likely have a choice of giving the buyer some money (perhaps not a lot) or being responsible for some or all of the repairs. Get a good nights sleep and quit worrying until you know where the buyer stands.

  5. Chad Conrad says:

    I totally agree with Frank and OC. Let the inspection take place and let them come to you with what they find. Then negotiate with the potential buyer on either proceeding with the repairs or offering them concessions on the final selling price. Besides, why bust your tail when you may be fixing something that new buyer may want to completely redo themsleves or completely take out and start over. Let your worries be there new honey-do project.

  6. Zathrus says:

    I’ll vote “leave it” too. Remember, the home inspector is paid to find problems. He (or she; the first inspector I ever hired (and, IMO, the best) was a woman) will find problems. If they can’t find big, glaring ones then they’ll find small, niggly ones — and a lot of times those small, niggly ones are harder (if not costlier) to fix.

    I’m not saying leave lots of big problems (mold, roof problems, etc) — that’ll scare a smart buyer off, but a few mostly cosmetic and easy to fix ones is probably a good idea. Stuff you knew you had to fix anyway. Like, oh say, the stuff you listed.

    And note that in this market you’ll probably have to fix or concede for everything the inspector finds.

  7. jimmy says:

    I have to agree with what’s been said about leaving and negotiating since you already have a contract.

    When I sold my townhouse last year, I put a lot of work in before I put it on the market. I had a chip about 3″ x 2″ on my white laminate kitchen countertop. Instead of relaminating, I bought some porcelain repair stuff (made for repairing chips in bathtubs) and used that to fill in my chip. It took probably 5 coats before I had it built up enough to be able to sand it down flush with the rest of the counter, but it looked seemless when done.

    Good luck with your inspection! A lot depends on the personality of the inspector.

  8. Victoria says:


    I know it may be a bit late to save the stain on your bathroom floor, but my URL is the address of my Squidoo Lens on the many uses of oxalic acid.

    Despite being really handy, you mustn’t forget that oxalic acid is also a very dangerous chemical, so I have included a link to this article on how it should be handled safely:


    Hope it helps somebody!



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