Whether you’re prepping before a sale or renovating the home you just bought, these tips can ensure you come out the other side sane and happy with the result.

1. Don’t over-improve. Ask a local Realtor for listings on comparable homes so you can determine if it make sense to invest as much as you plan. This is especially important if you expect to sell in the near future.
2. Set a realistic budget. Include a cushion for unforeseen expenses.
3. Hire good help. Interview several contractors for each part of the job and look for workers with at least three years’ experience and good reviews. Also, check references and, ask to visit their current work sites to make sure they’re safe and well organized.
4. Insist on a detailed contract and timeline.
5. Prepare for noise, dust, delays and inconvenience.
6. Safeguard children and pets from harmful chemicals, power tools and open doors.
7. Photograph every room so you have a record if something goes missing.
8. Pack valuables and cover furniture in adjacent rooms.
9. Communicate frequently with your contractor, especially if you’re not satisfied with some aspect. It’s better to get problems resolved during construction that trying to get them fixed later.
10. Conduct a careful inspection before final payment.

Sources: Angie’s List, US News & World Report, BH&G, homeadvisor.com