So last year, Mr. Hark and Mr. Larivee, who works in digital marketing, sold their condo and moved to a four-bedroom house, also in West Orange. They now have to mow their lawn and shovel their driveway when it snows, but when they had a drainage problem in the backyard, they got to choose their contractor and schedule the job based on when it made the most financial sense for them.

Need your garage door repaired? Odds are, once you account for materials, labor and unforeseen hiccups, you’ll be writing a check for a grand. Your sump pump died? A new one could cost you around $600 for parts and labor, which doesn’t seem so bad considering the alternative is a flooded basement. But then the plumber might discover that the pipe carrying the water from the house to the street is clogged with years’ of debris and needs to be flushed out. And maybe there’s a blockage somewhere. There you have it: $1,000.
Before you go through the trouble of repainting a ceiling to get rid of a water stain, try this trick. Spray the spot with a bleach and water solution (10 percent bleach), and wait a day or two. If it’s an old stain, use a mold and mildew remover from the grocery store. You’d be surprised how often the stain disappears by the next day. It works on both flat and textured ceilings.
How to DIY it: This job can be messy, so protect nearby surfaces by covering them with plastic or cardboard. Spray the springs with garage door lubricant (about 
$7 at home centers). Don’t use oil, grease, or other lubricants. They may be cheaper, or you may have them on hand already, but they won’t work as well and tend to pick up dust and grit—just what you don’t want on moving parts.
×