Q: I would like to buy an existing house. My husband, on the other hand, is determined that we build one to our own specifications. I'm more practical than he is, and I think it will run into lots more money if we think in terms of building.

A: First of all, you should decide which will be the wiser investment for you. An existing home will probably need repairs, and might even suffer somwhat from neglect. However, it might have more value to you than a new house.

A very difficult problem these days is to estimate the cost of building. The rate for labor and materials constantly changes. Also, there is a difference in the capabilities of builders. Since you will undobtedly receive widely varying estimates of the cost of building, try to average the estimates and assume that that is a reasonably close approximation of what you will have to pay.

If you would not pay more for a new house than for an existing house of closely equal charcteristics, then from there you must decide yourselves which it is you want.

Q: Though we have been aware for some time that our sidewalk is slippery, we were dilatory and did nothing about it until a friend fell on it the other day and could have broken a bone.

We know there is a mold or fungus on it. Since the trees are quite large and there is little sunlight, we are wondering if there is some means of removing this dangerous problem by chemicals. We don't want to kill the grass.

A: I think you can alleviate this problem by scrubbing the sidewalk with a stiff brush and a solution of household bleach. In order to avoid killing the grass, be careful not to allow the solution to drain into the grass.

The bleach should be rinsed off with lots of clear water. You can buy a liquid mildew-proofer at some department stores or at marine supply stores. Apply this to the sidewalk.

If it's possible, you should trim your large trees to allow more sunlight to seep through. This would be an advantage in avoiding the growth of fungus.

Q: I'm determined to sell my house this time without anybody's help. What do you think about this?

A: Many a house is sold by owner, without benefit of broker. However, it is my opionion that if you are selling your house on your own, it is important that you use the services of your real estate lawyer.

Using an efficient real estate attorney will cause everything to run as smoothly as possible. Remember, real estate transactions should be handled by real estate lawyers. Many attorneys are very well informed, but not about real estate.

If you are anxious to have a trouble free transaction, it is extremely important that your lawyer be very knowledgeable in local real estate transactions. if you don't have a real estate lawyer, the best way to obtain the services of a good one is to contact your local bank or savings and loan association. They will be glad to recommend a good one.

Q: My husband and I are thinking of buying a house that has not yet been completed. The builder has indicated that he would accept less in the asking price if we would agree to make settlement before the house was completed. Would you please advise us of the legal ramifications, such as assuring proper completion, etc.

A: Never, never make settlement until the house is completed. When it has been completed, a pre-inspection of it should be made by the purchaser (together with the builder) and the purchaser's lawyer, if he or she has one.

At that time, a "punch" list should be prepared containing all items yet to be taken care of. When settlement takes place, the "punch" list should be gone over and the builder advise the purchaser how long it will take for each item. None of it should exceed 30 days.

Then the "punch" list should be signed by the builder and the purchser and the date affixed. If you do not follow these suggestions, you may find yourself in big trouble.