In theory, the cost of building-wide improvements should be less in a condo because it is spread out across dozens of residents, and the sheer scale of the project could lower the overall price. But it does not always work out that way. Condo board members are volunteers who may not be skilled negotiators or knowledgeable about construction. They may take the first bid they get, or agree to more work than is necessary. If complications increase the cost of the job, residents won’t necessarily know. “This is one of the potential downsides of a condo or co-op scheme,” said Eric D. Sherman, a real estate lawyer and partner in the New York office of Pryor Cashman. “Lots of the time, boards are under the gun. They’re not paid for their efforts, they take the first bid from the first contractor that they see and they say, ‘sign me up.’”
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.

Sooner or later, every sprayed ceiling is going to get a water stain or a scrape. Spray texture in a can won’t perfectly match every ceiling texture, but it’s usually close, and a lot easier than respraying a whole ceiling. Before spraying, seal the patch with a stain-blocking primer, cover the floor and furniture, and practice your technique on scrap plywood or cardboard. Buy ceiling texture on Amazon now.
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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