Contractor so you’ve accepted recommendations, then thoroughly vetted and interviewed and hired someone to help with your renovation. Now how can you assure that you’re getting the best work out of your contractor? By taking some careful steps to set the relationship up for success.

To ensure a smooth, beneficial relationship when working with a professional remodeling contractor, you should have a good understanding of what your own responsibilities are and what to expect throughout the process. You don’t simply sign a contract, write a check, and wait for your dazzling new bathroom to appear. Here are a few rules of thumb for this important relationship.

Having open and established lines of communication between the contractor and the homeowner is essential. “Remodeling is a very emotional and personal experience, and you’re inviting this contractor and their crew into your house every day when you’re not home,” says Diane Welhouse, CKBR, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). “When you have a good rapport, you know the project is going to go smooth.”

One of the most personal and serious things to discuss is budget. “To get started, before we even talk about design, we talk about budget. It’s really important for us and for homeowners to have an honest discussion about budget,” says Louis M. Weiher, CR, CCP, president, owner, and general manager of Carmel Builders, Inc., in Menomonee Falls, Wis. “We can design a beautiful project that you’ll love, but we can’t say we can build it for a price you’ll love. In 40 years, we’ve never had a client who didn’t care about how much it costs.” Your budget guides the design and the materials being used.

As for design, don’t be afraid to discuss every granular decision. “You need to know the plan, incrementally throughout the project, and the scope and direction should be clear at the end of the design phase,” Weiher says. “When we’re sitting here at the start, there are hundreds or thousands of possibilities, but when we’re done, there’s one—it’s the project that we decided on.”