Your Guide to Home Renovation Construction in 10 Steps

Read these 10 steps to completing your home renovation construction so you can hold your home improvement team accountable.

1. Sign Up for the Portal
2. Demolition!
3. Moving Walls & Structure
4. Behind the Walls
5. Install New Flooring & Cabinets
6. Install Countertops & Fixtures
7. Add Finishes
8. Inspection
9. Final Walkthrough
10. Move-In & Notify Your Insurance

By this point, you’ve done your research, chosen your contractor, nailed down your design plans and fully prepared your home for the construction team to get to work. 

But what does the long-anticipated construction phase look like?

As you read through these stages, you’ll fill your knowledge tool belt with a plan that includes realistic expectations for the steps your home improvement contractor should be completing throughout your renovation. 

You can rest easy knowing you’re informed and can hold your renovation team accountable to the stages needed to complete your dream home.

1. Sign Up for the Portal 

Here at Melanson Homes, we value transparency and open lines of communication. That’s why we provide you with access to an online portal that outlines our monthly project schedule. You can see what’s happening in your house construction, when you can expect certain phases to be completed by and updates to any timelines so you know when you can expect to regain full use of your home. 

2. Demolition!

We’d be lying if we didn’t note this as our favourite part of a home renovation (next to seeing your reaction at the final walkthrough, of course). 

Who doesn’t love breaking down walls and ripping up that old (but-we’re-sure-it-was-once-in-style, right?) flooring? 

But before your team gets to tearing down drywall, your contractor should do a full walkthrough with them to identify what’s staying and what’s going to avoid costly mistakes. Once everything is outlined, anything that’s not a part of the new home design like cabinetry, railing, vanities, etc… will be removed.

When the option exists, ask if it’s possible to carefully remove items that can be donated to other renovations or local charities like Calgary’s ReStore.

3. Moving Walls & Structure

Out with the old, in with the new — it’s time to frame-up the new structure. If walls were removed or moved some adjustments will be required. 

Steps to add a new wall: 

  • Level the flooring and the top plate with the ceiling joist
  • Line up the bottom plate of the wall on top of a moisture barrier, when needed
  • Place the 2×4 studs 16” apart 
  • Frame any door openings with an additional 2” to fit the frame and door
  • Consider any features like TVs or floating shelves that may need more behind-the-wall support
  • Punch holes for electrical or utility services
  • Frame in any decorative components like ceiling drops or window surrounds 
  • Insulate outside walls
  • Hang & tape drywall

Steps to remove a load-bearing wall: 

  • Check the foundation and support systems
  • Support the load by installing temporary posts when removing the original wall
  • Install a permanent beam or beam and post
  • Remove temporary posts

Throughout the removal or additions of walls, your home contractor company will frame-up windows or doorways and will level the floors to allow for new flooring. 

4. Behind the Walls

Before the walls are closed-in, any upgrades that are needed within them are done.  As such, steps 3 and 4 go hand-in-hand and may be completed at the same time. 

Some upgrades can be planned for the original scope of the work, and others could arise as walls are opened up. 

For instance, if your home was built in Calgary pre-1990, it’s likely to have some asbestos and if it was pre-1980, it almost certainly does. Or if your home was built pre-1950 and more specifically between 1939–1947 you may find lead pipes that need replacing. 

Knowing these possibilities ahead of time means your contractor can look for them and plan for them. 

What to look for when you open walls:

  • Old insulation that’s ineffective or contains asbestos
  • Leaking or rusted pipes that may also contain lead
  • Electrical lines that don’t meet current building codes
  • Heat and air conditioning systems that aren’t properly sealed and are obstructed

What to add or move when you open walls: 

  • Plumbing to suit new sinks, tubs, toilets or showers 
  • Electrical Outlets 
  • Recessed lights, ceiling lights or wall-mounted lighting brackets
  • Hookups for internet and cable television

5. Install New Flooring and Cabinets

Once your walls are fully framed and everything is installed and taken care of behind the walls, your built-in fixtures will be added to your home.

Depending on the finishes you’ve chosen this step might take place in one order or the other. Most importantly, the height of your cabinets and appliances need to be taken into account before the flooring is laid. 

By installing your hardwood or tile (nailed/glued) flooring underneath your cabinets, it will allow you to change styles of cabinets as they’ll often be outlived by your flooring choice. It ensures everything is at the same height once installed and avoids any nicks or scratches on your cabinets that could happen if the flooring were to be installed post-cabinetry. 

The one exception includes floating floors (ones that click together like cork or laminate). These need more room to move and expand as they settle and aren’t allowed the same freedom when placed under heavy cabinets, so they’re installed afterward. 

6. Install Countertops and Fixtures

At this stage, the remaining fixtures are placed atop your flooring. In your bathroom, your tub, toilet, shower and vanity are installed after the flooring is installed to allow you to change them further down the line without having to replace everything. 

If you’re having a shower installed that seamlessly connects with your flooring, pre-laid flooring allows your team to properly level and align the new tiles. 

Once all of the base cabinets and vanities are installed, the countertops are set and glued in place. 

7. Add Finishes

As you near the end of the construction phase, all of the final touches or finishes are put in place. 

Your finishes could include: 

  • Freshly painted walls 
  • New lighting fixtures 
  • Railings and bannisters
  • Doors
  • Mirrors 
  • Trim and mouldings 
  • Fireplace mantles 
  • And more!

This is where you’ll really start to see your renovation come together and the intricate details you chose in design now come to life in your space. 

 8. Inspection

Depending on the scope of your renovation, a building-code inspection may need to be scheduled. If so, it would take place at this point in time. 

They’ll inspect your newly renovated space for: 

  • Adherence to building permits 
  • Any changes to the roof, drainage or foundation
  • Any changes to sewer or water services within the property and private lines leading to the home
  • Overflow inspection on any tubs or showers installed
  • Gas pipes including direct-vent fireplaces
  • Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors 
  • And more

Please note, depending on the scope of the renovation, inspections may be deemed necessary at other points of the construction phase. 

9. Final Walkthrough

After the inspection is complete and before you complete your final walkthrough, take a look back at your “before” photos as a reminder of how far your new space has come! 

At your walkthrough, ask for a punch list to follow along with while you complete the walkthrough. Your renovation contractor may already note things they need their subcontractors to come back and touch-up — if so, be patient with them and allow them to complete the work. 

Otherwise, note everything that is complete and any items that aren’t complete/need more work. 

A sample punch list of items that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Check outlets and light switches for power 
  • Make sure the flooring is free of dents or chips 
  • Run water through the taps for a minimum of 2 minutes and check the pipes underneath for leaks 
  • Open and close the doors to check for alignment and that they latch properly
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 
  • Run a cycle on your washer, dryer, dishwasher and check your fridge, stove, microwave, oven, heater & air conditioning and water heater for power
  • Inspect the countertops for chips or scratches
  • Open and close all cabinet doors
  • Check the grout for consistent coverage and the caulking along the windows/countertops 
  • Flush the toilets
  • Gently test the stability of towel racks 
  • Note any paint touchups needed

Be sure to look carefully, once you and your home contractor sign off on the punch list and the final touch-ups are completed, your contract will be complete. So if there are any items you feel aren’t complete, now is the time to have that conversation.

At this point, they should also handover your warranty docs and review them with you. At Melanson, we guarantee a 2-year warranty on the work and will explain what that entails in detail when we begin our work with you and again once it’s completed.

10. Move-In and Notify Your Insurance

Your renovation is now complete, congratulations! As you move back into your space, don’t forget to notify your insurance company that construction is complete. They may choose to reassess your home and adjust your insurance rates based on what you’ve repaired or even added in value. 

You’ll also want to contact your cable and internet provider to reinstate your paused subscriptions. 

All that’s left to do now is open that celebratory bottle of wine you’ve been saving for this moment, and to share with your first meal back in your redesigned home. Bon appétit!