Have you taken a look around your home recently and decided at least one remodeling project was going to get addressed this year? We know the feeling, and we want you to be successful and love the result.

So, we put together a short list of tips that will help you see your project through from start to finish with less stress. We’d like to promise no stress, but we know our limits!

1. Plan, plan, plan – Do research in your area for the average costs associated with your remodel. Look up how much ROI (return on investment) you can expect from your finished project. Kitchens and bathrooms still command the most money, but the days of making money off a remodel are most probably long gone.

2. Know what you want – Define the scope of work and pick out materials before you start shopping for a contractor. By knowing exactly what you want done to a particular room and having a price list of the stuff you’ll need – flooring, new windows, or fixtures, for example – will help you keep track of costs and what can and can’t fit in your budget.

3. Thoroughly research any contractor invited to bid – Check the Better Business Bureau ratings and membership in professional organizations like NARI (National Association of Remodelers).

4. Bid out your project – Get several quotes for your remodel, and make sure they’re detailed. Stages of the project should be clear – demo, framing, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc. – and include the specs for materials that will be used as well as labor costs.

5. Check references – Once you’ve narrowed down contractor choices, make sure you have a list of references, current job sites and insurance policies for each of them. Call past customers to be sure the completed work is exactly what they want, and visit job sites to be sure they’re neat and organized. Reputable contractors should provide a copy of their insurance policy with their quote.

6. Contract and payment – Make sure the same scopes of work from the quote are included in the contract so you know what will and won’t be done. Be sure payment terms are clear so you know how much is required from you and when. Contracts should include a start and end date and a clear warranty for the work performed.

7. Put away valuables – Anything valuable should be put away to avoid getting stolen, lost or damaged during construction. This list includes personal jewelry, electronics, family heirlooms, lighting fixtures in hallways in the traffic pattern, etc.

8. Be a good client – Clear communication about what you want and from your contractor about costs and contingencies is critical to the success of your remodel; so is making sure you aren’t getting in the way (unless some of the work is being done by you). It’s also important to be respectful of your contractor’s experience and knowledge; watching home improvement shows is not nearly the same as actually doing the work.