Buying a fixer-upper? Whether you have a small remodeling job ahead of you or a big one , you’re always much better off with a plan. Here are some tips for coming up with a plan designed to help you succeed:

Decide how much you’re going to spend. Make a plan for exactly what needs to be done on your property and set a budget. Don’t forget that home renovation projects are notorious for going over budget. You’ll want to allow for a cost overrun of 10 to 12 percent, or more if you are purchasing a distressed property on an as-is basis that could have some defects you don’t know about.

Go neutral. If you’re fixing up a home you plan to live in over the long term, by all means, select the colors, textures, window coverings and appliances that you like. But if you are going to be selling your property in the near future, you may want to select neutral accents with the most widespread appeal. A Realtor can be a great help with this.

Find good help. Do your homework when hiring contractors. Many people fail to check out a contractor’s licenses and references. Don’t skip this important step.

Negotiate a detailed contract. A contract can make it clear for all parties involved. Include a start-date as well as an estimated completion date, and details about all the services being rendered. Spelling this out at the beginning can keep you and your contractor on the same page and prevent miscommunication.

Think ahead. You could be living with a construction zone for weeks. Try to schedule major work at a time when it will have the least impact on your daily routine.

Speak up. Contractors can produce some amazing work, but they won’t know exactly how you feel about it unless you tell them. If you find something along the way that surprises you or something that you don’t like, mention it as soon as possible. You don’t want to get to the end of a remodel and have something become permanent that could have easily been fixed before the project was finished. Good luck!