Anyone who has hired someone to do a major project knows that it’s easy for projects to get derailed. Before you know it, you can find yourself weeks from completion, way over budget, and surrounded by chaos. Bad weather, unforeseen problems, and labor and materials issues are just a few of the problems that can easily throw your timeline off course.

Here are five tips to help your make sure your work gets done on time, on spec, and on budget:

Make plans, and make sure you understand them

Go over every aspect of the work, then go over it again. If you understand the project you’re hiring a contractor to do as well as the contractor does, you’ll be in a much better position to keep tabs on the project’s progress. Understanding the plans will allow you to understand why a projected timeline is or is not reasonable. This will help you ask better questions and spot potential problems with the plans.

Understanding the complete plans will also help you determine if manufacturers and material suppliers will be able to deliver the right quantities of all materials you need. It will also help you understand if labor projections seem realistic and necessary.

Create & Coordinate a Master Schedule

To make sure your project stays on schedule, you first have to have a master schedule. Break the project down into phases. From there, the phases should be broken down into tasks, which can be further broken down into individual activities.

Work with your contractor to assign estimated start and completion dates for the various tasks and activities. Determine how much time your contractor needs to finish each task. Then, work through the resources, labor, and equipment needed to complete everything on your scheduled timeline. Ensure that suppliers know when materials need to be available and delivered. Keep in mind that some tasks will likely need to happen sequentially and others may need to happen concurrently.

Create a Contingency Plan

No matter how well you plan or how closely you track the progress, your project likely will get tripped up by something. Having a contingency plan in place can help you quickly get back on track. Brainstorm possible schedule delays for foreseeable problems, such as weather, with the rest of the project team and build a contingency plan for each situation.

Communicate & Expect Communication

Determine how often, and by what means, you want your contractor to update and inform you, and make sure your contractor understands what you expect. Explain how and when you want to be informed of potential delays or problems. Knowing about problems while they’re still small will allow you to make adjustments that will keep problems from becoming unmanageable.

Let your contractor know that you expect regular progress reports. You may request weekly or even daily progress reports, depending on the scope of your project. Watch for any indications that you are falling behind schedule or going over budget. Though you can’t plan for every possible problem, with careful attention and oversight, you can see work gets done on time and projects are finished with minimal disruptions, to your calendar and your bank account.