Whether you’re sick of looking at how to start a house renovation paint or just longing for a home that feels more your own, it’s likely time to start renovating. But before you reach for the toolbox, there are some key steps you should take to prepare and plan.

Getting your research in order will help you avoid some of the major pitfalls that can pop up during renovations. You’ll also know what to expect in terms of cost. A good rule of thumb is to have a budget with a contingency surplus to cover unexpected mishaps that might occur during the project, such as burst pipes or electrical issues.

Talking with friends and family about their experiences with house renovations can be helpful, too. They might be able to point you in the direction of some contractors who have done quality work and can provide competitive prices.

From Idea to Reality: A Step-by-Step Plan for Starting Your House Renovation

Once you’ve whittled down the list of “must-haves” to the essentials, you can begin to assign priorities. For example, if the roof is in serious disrepair, this should be a high priority to prevent water leaks and other damage. Prioritizing structural work and preparing a work schedule are important steps, too. Make sure to consider the timeframe of each stage, so that things like plumbing and wiring are finished before walls are replastered.

Also don’t forget to plan for the needs of your contractors. If you need to rent a dumpster for waste, or need to have a space for them to park, make sure these details are figured into the budget. You’ll also want to create a contract with protective clauses against smarmy contractors who might try to take advantage of you during the process.