Examples of less frequent home maintenance that should be regularly forecast and budgeted include repainting or staining outdoor wood or metal, repainting masonry, waterproofing masonry, cleaning out septic systems, replacing sacrificial electrodes in water heaters, replacing old washing machine hoses (preferably with stainless steel hoses less likely to burst and cause a flood), and other home improvements such as replacement of obsolete or ageing systems with limited useful lifetimes (water heaters, wood stoves, pumps, and asphaltic or wooden roof shingles and siding.
This summer, they decided to paint the frames black, which cost $900. Mr. Sievers, a special-education teacher, and his wife, a doctor, could have done the work themselves, a solution that do-it-yourself enthusiasts would suggest. But the doors face the street, and the couple wanted the end result to look polished. “My dad and my uncle used to always do home repairs and everything used to come out uneven or crooked,” Mr. Sievers said. So he paid a professional.
While you’re at it: If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an Energy Star–rated model can save you about $180 in heating and cooling costs each year. You can buy one for about $40 and install it yourself. It’s a relatively easy job; no rewiring required. On the other hand, these are home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.
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.
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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.
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