If we’ve learned one thing about renovations during the past few years, it’s that things can change unexpectedly. That doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming about a major home improvement or abandon that next big project on the horizon. But, it does mean that researching and planning are all the more critical when trying to establish reasonable timelines and manageable budgets. Start with a review of your main objectives – are you looking to create comfort, aesthetics or efficiencies? Do you expect to improve your property’s value? Your established priorities will help you remain flexible, in the event of unpredictable market shifts.

These days, skilled labor, raw materials and manufactured supplies are all susceptible to market shortages, so it’s important to select a contractor with a reliable network of resources. Clarify your choices, get deadlines in writing, and know the difference between estimates and quotations. To further protect your renovation investment, consider incentives for completed stages – and penalties for delays. When faced with obstacles, be prepared to accept alternative options. Finally, keep aside a private contingency budget to accommodate unexpected circumstances – but don’t pay for anything in advance unless it’s for agreed-upon materials.