Home remodeling projects are big tasks that require a lot of work. It can be hard knowing where to begin.

Maybe you recently purchased some fixer-upper real estate in Toronto and want to jazz it up to resell for profit. Maybe you just moved into a new pad in Portland only to find that the interior is a little snug to be comfortable. Maybe you’ve lived in the same house your whole life and you just need a change of pace.

Whatever your reason, here’s what you should know when starting a remodel.

Make a Plan & Find a Contractor

If you really want the answer to what comes first in home remodel, there is no guidance as “do the floors” or “do the kitchen.” Instead,  the recommendation is “do your homework.” It’s important to put together a detailed and comprehensive plan for your remodeling goals before you ever spend a penny. Unless you’re planning to do the remodel yourself, it’s also important to find a contractor who you trust and who understands your goals.

Take Care of Any Necessary Repairs

Aesthetic remodels should never come before necessary repairs. Obviously, it’s a matter of prioritization. You can live with a cramped or ugly bathroom, but you’ll have a much harder time living with one where leaky pipes are in constant danger of bursting. Issues with the foundation, roof, plumbing, and electricity are often not just inconvenient, but also dangerous. Besides that, you’re going to feel real silly spending money resurfacing and painting your interior only to find out your electrician needs to put a hole in the wall to fix the wiring.

Out with the Old & In with the New

Starting with a clean slate is as important in home remodeling as it is in any other part of life. Before you can begin making additions, you probably need to make some subtractions. That means tearing down structures and features that you don’t want or that are in the way. Some demolitions will be unavoidable, but not as many as you might think. A good contractor can help you determine what elements of your current home do and do not need to be removed.

Make Structural Changes Early On

Planning to put in some new windows? Or to knock down walls to expand a room? Or maybe to build a whole new one? If you plan to alter the layout of your space, now is the time to do it. That goes for utilities as well. Plumbing, electrical work, and air ducts can all be moved to accommodate remodeling plans. However, it’s a lot easier to get that done before you start with more aesthetic concerns. Think of it like drawing a picture. Before you can fill in the details, you have to sketch the shape out of the outline.

Save Interior Design for the End

Last but not least, it’s time for the fun stuff, the details of a remodel that really capture your sense of style and personality:  lighting and plumbing fixtures, carpeting, and other floor installations, putting in new doors and window, repainting the interior walls, bathtubs, countertops, chandeliers, you name it. If you’ve followed the steps I laid out above, you should be ready to apply the finishing touches. Your home is meant to be a place you can relax, so don’t hesitate to have it reflect who you are as a person.