Truly knowing your renovation is the best thing you can to ensure it’s a success.

The following resource is broken down into various headings to help you easily identify what may apply to your renovation. As every Renovation is truly unique, this resource identifies many of the major considerations that should be addressed in the pre-planning stage, waiting to address them during the process will usually result in lost efficiency, both in time and money. 

1. Pre-design exploration
2. Pre demolition considerations
3. Demolition considerations
4. Framing layout
6. Plumbing
7. Electrical and lighting
8. Toilet
9. Vanities

10. Tubs
11. Shower
12. Bathroom Floor
13. Bathroom electrical
14. Kitchen Cabinets
15. Appliances
16. Laundry room
17. Kitchen Electrical
18. Back splashes and Counters
19. Basements
20. Tile flooring
21. Hardwood
22. Trim
23. Doors
24. Windows
25. Custom built-ins
26. Painting
27. Final clean up


1. Pre-design exploration

Now that you have decided to renovate the first thing you want to do is understand what you renovating over. 

Obviously, trim, fixtures and quite possibly wall and floor coverings will be removed and disposed. But there is another factor frequently overlooked, one more important than the finished “look”, and that is infrastructural and structural integration in their existing or ”pre-existing” condition.

Structural refers to: the frame of the house, beams, posts, joists, sub floor, footings ECT.

Infrastructural refers to: HVAC, Insulation, Plumbing/Mechanical, Electrical ECT.

Pre-existing conditions are usually referred to as structural or infrastructural components that are not suitable to work from (integrate with). Pre-existing conditions may range in qualification.

  • Safe and can be grand-fathered in
  • Unsafe and can be grand-fathered in
  • Safe and required by code to change
  • Unsafe and required by code to change
  • Regulated by code
  • Not regulated by code

Without solid renovation experience it is not easy to spot the potential pre-existing structural and infrastructural conditions. Considering these foundations prior to designing is important for proper process. Understanding what it will take to modify and integrate to your homes current condition will help with budget and what is really “possible”!

The best way to get valuable advice for your renovation, is to have an experienced general contractor who will not be bidding on the project come to your house for a consultation. 

Here is a checklist that will help in preparing you prior to designing. 

Framing and structural condition surrounding area of renovation (Pre-design Exploration)

Are beams bowing or out of level
Are posts footings crumbling, heaving or undersized

Are posts out of plumb
Are there cracks or significant give in the floor joists?

Are floors significantly sloping 

Current condition of sub floor (Pre-design Exploration)
Is it straight?
Is it level?
Is it secure or is it bouncy?
Is it squeaking?

Electrical considerations (Pre-design Exploration)
Is the electrical panel updated with breakers as opposed to fuses?
Is there room in the panel for additional lines?
Is there enough service in the panel to handle new/ increased load?
Are the wires throughout the house updated armored and grounded lines?
What lines are likely located inside walls that are to be removed or modified?
Is there insulation or other things in the ceiling that may change the scope to installing pot-lights and device boxes?

Plumbing considerations (Pre-design Exploration)
Location of main stack and the route the drain will take for new location rough-in?
What alternate route is likely? Can it happen without compromising structural integrity (cutting through joists or beams)
Will a bulkhead be required to encapsulate new plumbing lines
Existing height of toilet flange as it relates to desired finished floor – will the flange and riser need to be adjusted?
Do the drains perform properly as is, or is there blockage?
Are there shut-off valves for sinks present?
Are present shut-off valves in good condition?
What drain and or supply lines are likely located in a wall that is to be removed or modified?, what route can they take?

HVAC considerations (Pre-design Exploration)
Will the existing hole to vent the exterior be large enough to handle the modern and more powerful appliances and systems
How will the cold air returns and heat runs be affected in the new design

Are there areas where the insulation is sub par?

2. Pre-demolition Considerations

1. Parking. Are there any unobvious parking restrictions? For example, a condo renovation contract may need to park on the street or in a parking lot. The quote should reflect the extra time in transit to the unit and parking costs.

2. Content management. Is there a clear understanding about which items the homeowner will remove and which items the contractor will remove, along with whether the destination for each item is garbage or storage.

3. Engineering controls. What areas of the home will still be in use throughout the renovation? What is the expectation for dust control? (With the appropriate measures, although involved and somewhat costly, 99% of dust can be controlled.)

4. Floors. How will the walkways through areas that are not being renovated be dealt with—drop sheet, plastic, paper, hard board? Will it be expected that at the end of each day, the floor protection is removed and the space is returned back to living condition for the evening, or can the protections remain in place throughout all or part of the renovation?

5. Hours of operation. More restrictive hours of operation mean increased logistics costs.

6. Provision of necessities. Is there a washroom that the tradespeople can use, or will the contractor need to provide a portable toilet? Can the tradespeople access drinking water, or will the contractor be required to provide it?


3. Demolition Considerations

1. Can a disposal bin be placed in the driveway? Who will take responsibility for any damage that is incurred by placing and removing the bin? Unfortunately, this is very common.

2. Who will take responsibility for extra garbage placed in the bin by third parties not involved in the renovation (neighbours, other contractors)?

3. Who will take responsibility for any damage in the house to existing finishes during demolition, if no considerations were made for their protection?


4. Framing and Layout Considerations

1. A clear drawing with elevations and floor plan is available.

2. Structural framing is defined by an engineer.

3. Space planning conforms to design standards and, when applicable, has been approved by the city.

4. Materials for non-structural framing — wood or metal?

5. Doorway(s) placement, size and direction of door swing have been established.

6. Window style, function and quality have been established.

7. Supporting components for door and window openings have been established, engineered and approved by the city when needed.

8. Supporting beam locations and applications have been engineered and approved by the city, including orientation (flush or undermount) and material (steel or wood).

9. Beam point load placement and footing/bearing specs have been engineered and approved by the city.

10. Areas of additional-support framing required, such as for a tv or heavy chandelier?


5. HVAC and Gas Considerations

1. Any significant changes to heat runs or cold air return have been calculated and drafted by an hvac designer. This includes additional cold air return and heat runs for newly created rooms (more commonly in a basement).

2. All known heat runs that will require relocation have been identified (demolition may reveal unforeseen circumstances).

3. Additional, and re-routing of, gas lines?

4. Routing of any additional vent lines for indoor gas-burning units. (Any modification of existing black abs pipes may require the newer system 636 to be installed.)

5. Any gas-burning fireplaces have been selected and the specs made available, and any gas or venting routes have been established along with efforts to build back encapsulates (bulkheads).


6. Plumbing Considerations

1. Is a plumbing permit required? Are you adding a drain or changing the location of an existing drain?

2. What type of water supply lines will be used — copper or other?

3. What type of drain material will be used — copper or other?

4. All drains will be properly vented. (It is hard to determine scope of work for venting prior to demolition.)

5. Are you tying into a main drain that has builder traps and exterior grade air venting connected? If so, you may need to dig up the lawn to update the main line connection (rare situation).


7. Electrical/Lighting Considerations

1. Indication that an electrical inspection is required!

2. Indication that all relevant electrical work will be brought to code?

3. Indication that all junction boxes will be accessible or rewired for direct runs to the panel?

4. Review of panel load limitations and possible service upgrade requirements.

5. Review of breaker space in panel and possible sub-panel installation.

6. How many new outlets will be needed to service new wall space?

7. Number of pot lights, layout and lines to switches?

8. Number of device boxes for light fixtures, layout and lines to switches?

9. Dimmers — style and quantity?

10. Do any areas need three-way switching (two switches that control one light)?


8. Toilet Considerations

1. Specs for the toilet available? Some toilets have abnormal rough-in specs.

2. Does the toilet have 30 inches’ clearance from tub/ shower to vanity?

3. Who will supply or deliver the toilet to the house?


9. Vanity Considerations

1. Specs/dimensions?

2. Number of sinks?

3. Restrictions with drain and water supply rough-ins?

4. Orientation to wall — built-in or free-standing?

5. Kick-space considerations — closed or open?

6. Faucet specs?

7. Does the vanity require separate countertop and sink supply? If so, who provides them?

8. Is there a backsplash? If so, what is the design, material and grout colour to be used?

9. Is there a tile edge? If so, what will its colour and material be?

10. Who will supply and/or deliver the vanity to the house? 11. Who will coordinate the measurement and supply of the counter top?


10. Tub Considerations

 1. Specs for rough-in

 2. Free-standing or drop-in?

3. Design of framing for drop-in tub?

4. Jets? With or without heater?

5. Does the drain installation require the opening and repair of the ceiling below? (This is common.)

6. Is an access panel required for maintenance of motors and heaters or connections?

7. Is the existing door frame opening large enough to bring the tub into the bathroom? If not, has the work for increasing the door opening been considered?

8. Who will supply or deliver the tub to the house?


11. Shower Considerations

1. What types of waterproofing methods are going to be used? Is the whole shower to be waterproofed or just the base?

2. What type of tile backer will be used?

3. What are the specs for the shower rough-in, mixer, heads, jets, diverters?

4. What type of drain will be used — square, round, lineal, infinity?

5. Does the shower have a bench?

7. What is the height of the desired threshold?

8. Is there going to be a niche for shower products (shampoo, soap, etc.)?

9. Are there going to be corner shelves installed?

10. What are the framing dimensions and the desired layout for a glass door shower enclosure?  

11. What type of tile is being used and where?

12. What is the layout of the tile? (Price varies widely on design and type of tile.)

13. Does the quote include sealing the tile?

14. What grout colour will be used?

15. What colour of tile edge will be used?

16. What colour of silicone will be used in the corners?


12. Bathroom floor Considerations

1. What is the expectation for level on the bathroom floor? (It’s not easy to determine condition and work involved to correct subfloor prior to demolition, and additional charges to correct the subfloor should be considered)

2. Is there going to be a heated floor installed?

3. What are the expectations for transition into the adjoining room’s floor?

4. What type of tile is being laid?

5. What is the pattern/design of the tile?

6. What grout colour will be used?

7. Who will supply the tile and grout and deliver them to the house?


13. Bathroom electrical Considerations

1. Will new lines need to be installed to handle increased loads with heated floor and/or heated tub?

2. What is the lighting layout? How many pot lights are needed?

3. Where are the light sconces going to be installed? (The size of the vanity mirror is required to determine light sconce placements.)

4. Vent fan and location?

5. Route to new vent extraction location?

6. Who supplies the fan?

7. Light switch placement — how many lines will be installed?

8. Placement for the heated floor thermostat?

9. How many outlets will be required to meet code? 10. Are there dimmers going in, and if so, what style and quality?

11. Is there a chandelier that will need extra time to install?


14. Kitchen Cabinets Considerations

1. Check measurements for kitchen cabinet design layout.

2. Inspect bulkheads to ensure either that the space is clear or what reworking of lined runs will be required to make the design work.

3. When will the cabinets be arriving, and how will this affect prep space square footage?

4. Who will bring the kitchen cabinets into the job site?

5. Are the cabinets going be stored in an area with a finished hardwood floor, and what measures will be taken to ensure that the staples that bind the bottoms of the boxes don’t gouge the floor during unpacking and installation?  

6. Does the kitchen crown moulding intersect with existing living-space crown moulding? If so, what measures will be taken to make sure they are the same or complement each other?

15. Appliance Considerations -It is quite common that new kitchen appliances and current code regulations will require you to add additional lines to the panel.

1. Does the stove require a gas line?

2. Are you going to install a gas line for the barbecue while you are at it?

3. Can the main gas line coming into the house handle the increased demand, or will it be necessary to increase the size of the main line at the outside meter?

4. Does the stove require additional power requirements?

5. Is there a secondary heating/cooking unit?

6.  Dedicated microwave power?

7. Dedicated Dishwasher power?

8. Dedicated Vent fan power?

9. Dedicated fridge power?

10. Dedicated Food warmer power?

11. What is the size of the extraction hose for the stove vent — 4, 6 or 8 inches?

12. What is required to run the new vent, will a new route be required to run the vent hood extraction?

14. Does the sink have a touch-sensitive faucet requiring power?

15. Is there a garburator (garbage disposal unit) or filter that will require additional spots to plug in?

16. Does the fridge require a water line? What type of line is installed — a vinyl, copper or braided connector? (I personally like the braided connector.)

17. Do the drawings allow for the appropriate spaces to house the appliances, or will the contractor need to modify the kitchen cabinets to make room for the appliances?


16. Laundry Room Considerations

1. Rough-in and drainage established for the washing machine and laundry sink?

2. If the laundry sink is no longer part of the design, how will the main drain receive its water for priming?

3. Power and venting for the dryer?

4. Who will be responsible for removing the packaging?

5. Who will provide instruction on using the new equipment? (This is especially important for any appliances that require gas.)

6. Who will bring the new appliances to the site?

17. Kitchen Electrical Considerations

1. Pot light placement?

2. Device boxes for light fixtures?

3. Switch placement?

4. Under-cabinet lighting specs- how are they powered and where does the transformer plug in?

5. In-cabinet lighting specs? - how are they powered and where does the transformer plug in?

6. Counter electrical? (Must have a minimum as per esa — electrician to advise.)  


18. Granite/Backsplash Considerations

1. Who supplies the granite?

2. What is the design for the backsplash — type of tile, design features, edging, termination points?


19. Basement Considerations

1. Identification of all infrastructure including water shutoffs, gas lines, gas shut-offs, junction boxes, bump-outs, clean outs and drains. What efforts will be made to accommodate these items, as spaces will be closed off with drywall?

2. How will the bulkheads be designed?

3. How will supporting posts/masonry peers be finished?

4. Space layout including doorways and access to electrical panel and utility room (furnace, hot water tank, etc.)?

5. How will the basement windows be framed?

6. How will the stairs to the basement be finished?

7. How will exterior basement walls be insulated?

8. What system of sound reduction will be employed?

9. Are there intentions to finish under the staircase?

10. Are there intentions to have any unfinished areas of the basement treated with either basic wall board, soundproofing (furnace room), or painting or other finishing of exposed slab concrete floor?

11. Can the drywall be delivered to the basement in one piece, or are the passageways too restrictive? Will the drywall have to be cut in two, requiring additional efforts in transporting and finishing? 12. How will any existing floor drains be dealt with?

13. What efforts will be made to ensure the furnace has an adequate supply of air once it is enclosed?

14. What is the condition of the concrete slab floor? Are there humps and valleys that will create deflection on the flooring to be installed?

15. Are there any signs of moisture penetration on the slab floor or on the basement walls that should be addressed before encapsulation?

16. Considerations for ensuring a smoke detector are roughed-in to communicate with the other smoke detectors in the house?

17. How will reduced heights with doors be dealt with — custom order or cutting them down, which will affect the balancing in the panels?

18. Will the existing builder switch need to be modified to a three-way switch?


20. Flooring Tile Considerations

1. How will the subfloor be prepped after the demolition? (This is very important to consider if a flat, smooth flooring finish is desired.)

2. What type of product will be installed?

3. What is the size of the tile?

4. What is the size of the desired grout lines

 5. What is the pattern?

6. Are there any inlays?

7. What preparation is recommended — scratch coat, concrete board, Ditra, dry-pack, joist work enhancing for natural stone, screwing down the subfloor, replacing the subfloor?

8. What kind and colour of grout is required — sanded, polymer, epoxy, specialized?

9. Does the grouting include using a grout maximizer that will increase its resistance to staining?

10. Who will seal the tile, and what quality and kind of sealer will be used? (Different tiles require different sealers.)

11. How will the tile transition to other areas that have hardwood, vinyl, carpet or other? 12. How will the tile transition into other areas that have a different finished level? Is it possible to create a smooth transition from one room’s floor to the next? (Ideally, it will be possible.)

13. What kind of tile edge will be used? 14. What kind of logistics need to be worked out for the installation of the tile and accessibility to various areas of the house? Will the contractor need to modify his approach to accommodate this, and will it increase his scope of work?

15. After the tile is installed, what considerations will be made to protect it from any additional work required to complete the renovation? (This is especially important for natural stone and light-coloured grout.)

16. Who will supply the grout and what colour will it be?

17. Who will provide the tile and bring it to the site? Note: The expectation of quality in the finished product should be determined by the quality of tile that was chosen and the condition of the substrate (floor, wall, and shower ceiling) on which it was laid. For example, a cheap ceramic tile will likely require 3/16- to 1/4-inch (or larger) grout lines to dissipate the size difference from one tile to the next, along with any cupping or warping that may be included.   Where quality tiles and some natural stone only require a 1/16 or less grout line.


21. Hardwood Floor Considerations

1. How will the subfloor be prepped after the demolition? (As with tile, this is very important to consider if a flat, smooth flooring finish is desired.)

2. What type of product will be installed?

3. What is the pattern?

4. Are there any inlays or patterns around fireplace hearths?

5. What preparation is recommended — screwing down or replacing the subfloor?

6. How will the hardwood transition to other areas that have tile, vinyl, carpet or other flooring finishes?

7. How will the hardwood transition into other areas that have a different finished level? Is it possible to create a smooth transition from one floor to the next (which, again, is ideal)?

8. Who will pick the stain match for the stair nosings and transitions?

9. What kind of logistics need to be worked out for the installation of the hardwood that is stained and finished onsite, and for accessibility to various areas of the house? Will the hardwood installation need to be modified to accommodate these things, and will they increase the contractor’s scope of work?

10. What steps will be taken to protect the hardwood, after it is installed, from any additional work required to complete the renovation? (This is very important on all hardwood installations. Neglect = regret.)

11. Who is responsible for pieces that are installed that have manufacturing defects?

12. Who will provide the hardwood and bring it to the site? Note: There are many different products on the market. It is not reasonable to expect a perfect finish on hardwood if a cheap product is supplied. Cheaper hardwoods are not milled with the same care, so they are prone to warping, tongue-and-groove misalignment and deficiencies in their finish.


22. Trim Considerations

1. Selection of baseboard, shoe mould/quarter round, casing, back band, chair rail, crown and other mouldings?

2. Style, size and orientation/design of these items?

3. Type of product — primed mdf, paint-grade natural wood or stain-grade natural wood?

4. Stain and sheen for any stain-grade installations?

5. Will the contractor use 14- to 16-foot lengths that will reveal fewer seams along the walls, or will he use 8-foot lengths that are easier to transport but will mean the finish will have more seams?

6. Will the trim be glued and tacked with a 23-gauge pin-nailer that will encourage fewer blemishes in the finish, or will it be tacked with a heavier 16-gauge nailer, to bypass the need for glue or construction adhesive?

7. Will the corner joints around the door casing be mitered or have rosette mouldings?

8. Who will provide the trim and bring it to the job site?


23. Door Considerations

1. How many doors will be installed?

2. What is the style(s) of the door(s)?

3. Which way will they swing?

4. Will they be standard, off-the-shelf hollow-core doors or a custom order?

5. Will they have soundproofing qualities?

6. Will they be stain-grade or paint-grade?

7. What type of knob set is required — privacy, passage or keyed?

8. Who will provide the doorknobs?

9. Who will provide the doorstop?

10. What kind of finish will the hinges have? (Normally, they should match the lock-set finish.)

11. Who will provide the doors and bring them to the site?


24. Window Considerations

1. What quality of window will be installed?

2. How will it open?

3. Will it be finished with a brick mould or flashing?

4. What colour will the frame be, and is special colour for glazing (silicone) required?

5. Who will order the window?

6. Who will bring the window to the site? Custom work, it is particularly important to be specific with custom work, especially custom orders with items that cannot be returned.


25. Custom Built-ins

1. Design/layout — How will it function?

2. Does it have any electrical or plumbing components?

3. What is the finish? Is it stain-grade wood, mdf or paintgrade natural wood?

4. Where do the shelves go?

5. Where do the doors go?

6. Spacing of doors and shelves?

7. Is the hardware for hinges hidden or exposed?

8. Doorknobs?

9. Trim details?

10. Kick-space?

11. Shelf and gable thicknesses?  

12. Shelf and gable capping?

13. Door finishes and style?

14. Paint finish? (I recommend new paints specially formulated for paint-grade cabinetry.)


26. Painting Considerations

A painting schedule is very helpful. Each wall should be identified with its intended colour. The contractor will need to know in the quoting stage how many different colours he is applying. He will also need to know what sheen and brand/quality you want. Are there considerations for low-voc (Volatile Organic Compound) paints? He will need to know the colours for doors and trim. He will need ceiling colours and to know whether the crown will be painted in with the ceiling or as a separate item. Considerations for leftover paint for future touch-ups should also be made. If there is no paint left over for one or more areas, who is responsible for getting enough additional paint to store for future use?


27. Final cleanup Considerations

What is the expectation for final cleanup? Will all surfaces be dusted and polished, all garbage removed, the driveway washed down and other areas around the outside of the house swept and washed clean?