You’ve decided to renovate your home. You have a list of improvements and (you believe) a clear idea of what you need to accomplish. But next, you must begin the process that determines your ultimate success—making and controlling a project budget.

Make a Budget You Can Live With

Planning is the key to a manageable budget. First, get essential information (project design, the scope of work) on paper. Then, add unexpected items, which can add to your total costs.

1. Engage an experienced general contractor. You need an experienced builder to run the show, walk through your home and confirm whether you need additional work that you might not have noticed. Of course, you’ll want to choose a GC who has the experience and reputation that are up to the job.

2. Identify all scope items before work begins. You want to make a complete list of tasks, of everything you need done.

3. Be realistic about your budget. Be truthful to yourself and your renovation team about your goals and intentions.

4. Look for and add unexpected costs or requirements to your budget and schedule. It’s a good idea to budget 10 to 20 percent over your renovation estimate so that you’re ready for anything that happens.

5. Have an experienced designer draw up detailed plans for your project. This will help you make choices that lower renovation costs and remember all important items or features. And, a professional drawing helps ensure that contractors provide accurate cost estimates and get all required permits.

Keep Your Budget Under Control

The name of the game here is minimizing the temptation to make changes after work begins.

6. Resist the urge to make changes after construction begins. You’ll want to make changes. Everybody does. So, minimize adding or changing project line items. They can delay your schedule, and adding things back after construction begins costs more than if they weren’t removed in the first place.

7. Defer some changes. You can make some upgrades later. For example, you can add new kitchen appliances or floor coverings after the rest of the work is done.