Are you renovation ready? Part 3: Managing the Construction Process

By Don Epp, SARC Facility Planner

You’ll remember from the previous two blogs in this series how we discussed the importance of a good plan, scope of work, and a budget. We were able to get some good quotes and find a qualified contractor. Now that the details of the price and contract have been worked out, it’s time to get to work!

Before work begins, it’s important to meet with the contractor and establish some protocols for working together. A good renovation experience depends on good communication. Getting off on the “right foot” will make the renovation go smoothly.

Contractor’s Requirements

One of the first tasks is to plan a “kick-off” meeting. It’s an opportunity for all parties involved to meet and gain a common understanding of the project.  Information about the project, why it’s being done, who is responsible for what and how the team will work together are usually on the first meeting agenda. The contractor can also identify what they need in order to complete the work.  Depending on the type of project and if the home will be occupied during the renovation will determine some of the contractor’s requirements. Often the location of the electrical panel and water shut offs and where materials can be delivered and stored, need to be identified.

The homeowner or building manager can also establish some “house rules”.  These are expectations about working in their space Use of the bathroom, use of the kitchen and eating areas, smoking, working hours and playing music are common ground rules that are best discussed ahead of time.

Contractor’s Responsibilities

The contractor has responsibilities to complete the renovation with the least amount of disruption as possible. Good lines of communication helps to avoid confusion and increases the possibility of a successful project. To avoid miscommunication, it’s recommended to have one point of contact from the contractor’s team and owner’s team to make sure all major communication follows the same path.   

The contractor can establishing milestones in the renovation and a detailed timeline can help to keep things on track.  If there are delays then the contractor can discuss these with the owner.

Dealing with the construction garbage and clean up also rests with the contractor. An end of day clean-up routine is advised, especially if the house is occupied. The contractor is also responsible for the safety of the workers on the jobsite.

Owner’s responsibility

If a task is not stated in the contract, then it is the responsibility of the owner. The owner is responsible to prepare the renovation area by removing all personal items and furniture, or arrange for their protection during the renovation.

During the renovation, the owner should be available to answer questions and help solve any renovation problems that may arise. The owner can monitor the progress and even keep a “progress journal” recording the activities of each day, as well as notes and agreed upon expectations.

Delays can occur when it takes too long to make decisions or select products and colour choices. Changes to the original plans, outside of the original scope of work will also cause delays and may increase the costs as well. The fewer changes the better.

In addition, the homeowner or building manager is also the client and is to provide payment at agreed upon times.  Being personable, and providing the work crew with a glass of lemonade on a hot day will be well received. 

Finishing the contract

Once the contractor is almost finished, and before the last invoice has been paid, there are a few steps to follow. The Building Official, as detailed in the building permit, must complete all inspections and signoff on the work. All new equipment owner’s manuals and details about the contractor’s workmanship warranty should be passed on to the owner. Instructions of how to operate new features of the renovation are also required to be given to the owner. During the final walk-through with the contractor a “punch-list” can be created. This list details all the deficiencies that need to be completed or repaired before final completion. Once the deficiencies are completed and the contractor has fulfilled all their obligations on the contract, it is time for the owner to give final approval on the project and issue the final payment. The contractor may want the owner to be a reference for the next project too. Now that the renovation is complete, it’s time to celebrate a well-planned renovation project!

In this three-part series, we found out that a successful renovation experience includes much pre-planning, good working plans, understanding of roles, responsibilities, and clear communication during the construction phase. Following these best practices will help you stay on track, on budget, and on time!


Please Note: The included information is for reference only, and SARC and its Members, their employers, officers, and Directors assume and accept no liability for any consequences arising from the use, non-use, accuracy, or legal compliance of any of the information, tools, or resources provided.

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