Get your remodeling project off on the right foot by following this home improvement advice.

You’ve made up your mind that it’s finally time to undertake that home improvement project that you’ve been putting off. Before you pick up the phone, here are four things you should know:

1. When remodeling, a picture’s worth a thousand words

It’s ludicrous to think of walking into a used car dealership and telling the salesperson, “I want a car,” but not being able to give specifics when they ask for further details on color, engine size, seating capacity, mileage, safety rating or price.

The same goes when meeting with a contractor to discuss commencing a major home improvement project. While they are there to act as a guide, the color combinations, materials and price points are numerous.

Save time and frustration for each of you by taking the time to research photos of completed projects that are similar to yours. At the time of your consultation, these images can be shared with the professional you’re working with to get a better feel of what exactly you’re looking for.

2. Hire the right remodeling contractor

Think of your general contractor as the quarterback of a team. Drafting the right quarterback is key to winning. Their job is to gather bids, work with any subcontractors and make sure that the work is done correctly, within your budget and on schedule. A general contractor has connections within the industry and has solid relationships with subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, etc.)

These subcontractors want to perform exceptional work for general contractors because they know that this is how they will stay in business. It’s important to screen potential contractors to ensure that they are a good fit for you and the project you wish to undertake.

3. Ask your remodeler the right questions

If you were starting your own business and were hiring employees, wouldn’t you want to do a thorough background check on them and understand their experience in the work you’re asking them to perform?

The same goes for a contractor. Failure to ask the right questions can have serious consequences, including the work not being performed correctly, on time or within in the budget you’ve

4. Expect renovation speed bumps

Think back to your wedding planning. Did everything go exactly as you planned, or did a few curve balls sneak their way in? The same goes for home improvement projects.

With so many “moving parts” it’s likely that a few “surprises” will work their way into the project. This is where hiring the right remodeling contractor for the job is imperative.

While a contractor may not be able to control curve balls such as the light fixtures you had your heart set on being on back order from the manufacturer, they can work with you to resolve the issue. A reputable contractor is accustomed to thinking on their feet.

This article was originally published at Angie’s List.