In simpler times, the bathroom was a simple space where one grabbed a quick shower and did some basic grooming before heading out to work. Fast forward to today and this utilitarian area has evolved into a luxurious getaway where one can escape from the stresses of everyday life. Whirlpool tubs, steam showers and his & her faucets surrounded by a palatial ambiance makes the bathroom one of the most important (and best-selling) features of your home. As such, if you plan on doing a massive overhaul, it’s not something that should be taken lightly. Careful and meticulous planning are vital in order to acquire that dream bathroom while staying within your budget. Below are four key things to go over—in detail—before you sign the papers with your contractor.

  1. Budgeting

The first thing you need to do is create a budget for your master bathroom and divide it up into two parts: labor and materials. Be sure to never overspend in one area and set aside a certain amount for any possible hurdles that may pop up. Simply put, a bathroom is complicated; it consists of a network of plumbing and electrical lines. So if you plan on making changes to the existing layout, the higher the cost will be. Likewise, if problems are discovered when walls get knocked down or lighting is replaced, you need to keep that in mind when creating a budget.

Also, remember that when it comes to bathroom fixtures, buy the best quality possible to ensure longevity and low maintenance. Durable bronze always beats out plastic!

  1. Collect and organize your ideas

Need some inspiration? Then get your hands on some magazines and/or peruse websites like Pinterest and Houzz. Take screen captures of what you like and store them into one folder on your desktop or tablet. If you’re old school, buy a three-ring binder and start collecting photos while writing down notes to share with your contractor. Plus, a binder is a great way to store any wallpaper or paint samples as well!

  1. Prioritize space

When you map out your dream bathroom, think of it as three distinct zones. The first is bath and shower; the second is sink and grooming; and the final component is the toilet. Now, do you have enough space to build a separate bathtub and shower or will you need a combination? What fixtures do you want and is there enough room for them? Unless you have an unlimited amount of space, you’ll need to create a ranking system and prioritize what’s the most important and what can be cut from the final design.

  1. Plan for now (and the future)

Today, more and more Americans are purchasing homes that they intend to keep into old age. And with the growth of multi-generational houses, you need a think of a bathroom that is not only aesthetically pleasing for the present day but one that will also fulfil your needs decades down the road. Will more space need to be allocated for a ‘universal design layout’ consisting of wider doorways, a larger clear zone in front of the sink and a roll-in shower? Be sure to have a design that meets these needs more than satisfying the current trends.