If you didn’t fix up your home this summer, you’re probably planning a project or two for the winter.

Nearly $200 billion will be spent on home improvements this year. That’s a lot of paint and nails. But a lot of that cash will be wasted because homeowners don’t always think things through before demolition begins.

I’ve put together a short list of things I want you to think about before you start this fall’s project.

Start by asking yourself ‘What’s the budget?’ You have to figure out what you can afford because the law of constructions is that everything costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you plan. Once you know the total amount you can spend, work backward to pick our finishes that fit your budget.

Next, expect the unexpected. Something’s going to pop up during construction that will cost more money. So give yourself an additional 20 percent in reserves to pay for all the extras you didn’t expect.

Third, don’t change your mind once construction has started. The cheap way to do it is to simply decide in advance what you want and then stick to it. Changes are very expensive once construction begins, and if you do have a change order, and everyone does, be sure to put it in writing. Just in case.

Most of us can’t afford to have it all, right now. So if you’re on a budget, choose wisely to get more out of your renovation dollars. Choose to build space, like an extra bedroom, over details like moldings that can be added later. Choose ceramic tile over marble. And choose high ceilings throughout, even in your basement.

The most important thing you can do is to carefully plan out your entire project and that means choosing your fixtures, tile, cabinets and appliances ahead of time. If you know what everything costs, you won’t be surprised when the contractor hands you the bill.