Construction Checklist

We have prepared this list for you to follow to help you properly manage your construction project. This process may be applied to any sized projects. In fact, engineers and project managers apply this process daily,  from the smallest home renovation to the largest construction project.

Stage 1: Planning

  1. The Idea: The first step of any project is coming up with the idea. You probably know what you want to build and have some sketches on paper of what you want the finished product to look like. At any point in the process you can hire a project manager to advise you through the construction process. The project manager may be yourself, an engineer, an architect or a general contractor. It can be anyone knowledgeable in the planning stages of a project.
  2. Local Regulations:  There will be a number of local regulations you will have to adhere to make sure your project is completed correctly. Along the way you may need to hire a number of professionals. Your project is going to have to comply with your municipal by-laws for site plan requirements. At this point you will need to hire an Ontario Licensed SurveyorSurveyors will be able to determine the information required for your site plan that will be part of your building permit package. The site plan and rough drawings will be what is used for your building permit. The surveyor will provide the following information:
    • Dimensions of your property and buildings.
    • Setbacks from your property lines known as front and side yard distances.
    • Setbacks from high water marks or environmentally significant wetlands.
    • Flood plain elevation of the lot.
    • Grading requirements for the lot.
    • Lot coverage requirements.
    • Locations of easements.
    • Legal description of the lot.
  3. Minor Variance:  If your plans don’t comply with your local by-laws then you can apply for a minor variance which is like appealing your municipal by-law. Any construction within the setbacks from water or wetlands will have to be approved by your local conservation authority. Normally it is very difficult to build within their set back, even if it’s extending an existing deck. Be sure to check with your local conservation authority before beginning the project.
  4. Site Inspection: Now it is time to hire an engineer to inspect existing conditions of the site. The engineer will determine the best structural system for your project and any specific requirements, such as a subsurface soil investigation. The big question will be what type of foundation will be used for the construction. Some options include; piers, walls, or slab on grade. The engineer will also want to see the site plan to check with regulatory requirements from the municipality.
  5. Architectural Design: Architects are extremely knowledgeable in all areas of the building code. They will perform building code reviews for everything from planned occupancy type, occupancy limits, as well as come up with construction details such as the detailed cross section of a wall. They will also use their creativity to ensure the finished product is aesthetically pleasing as well. Architects are limited to smaller projects and have their own section of the Ontario Building Code (Part 9). Due to this limit an engineer may need to be more or less involved during the architectural design phase.
  6. Engineering Design: At some point you will need to hire an engineer to review the architects plans for structural requirements that are exceed an architect’s limits. These items include steel or engineered wood beams, foundation and geotechnical (soil) details. You may also need an engineer or Ontario licensed surveyor to review the drainage requirements of the lot.
  7. Truss and Joist Design: Once the architect and engineer are done their design and reviews, then the drawings are typically sent to a truss manufacturer to design the roof and floor joists. The truss manufacturer will send shop drawings back to the project manager to be reviewed by the engineer for compliance with the overall structural intent.
  8. Final Drawing Package: At the end of the planning stage you will have a set of drawings that are labelled “Issued for Tender”. This means the drawings are ready to go to general contractors and other trades for quotations. Typically during the planning stage of the project a number of drawings will be sent to the client labelled as “Issued for Review”. These drawings are to ensure the final product is what the client wants and to keep them involved in the design process.

Stage 2: Tender

The term tender is the term used by construction project mangers for getting quotes. There are several ways to proceed with this step with a number of advantages and disadvantages of each. Normally the approach taken for quoting will depend on the size of the project. Small projects may use soul-sourcing, whereas large projects will use formal tendering. There are a number of other ways to quote and bid a project with varying degrees of complexity, below are the typical methods used for residential and commercial projects.

  1. Soul-Sourcing– This way of quoting a project means the project manager went to a single contractor or general contractor and accepted his price. The advantage of soul sourcing is you are trusting the opinion and experience of the general contractor and in return he gets to work with contractors that he is familiar with. This will also be the simplest and easiest way to proceed with a project. The disadvantage is that you are not receiving multiple quotes so you do not get to compare prices and experience to pick the right general contractor for the job. There is also no specification nor scope of work document to clearly explain the project which may lead to project overruns and unforeseen costs. Projects are typically soul-sourced when it is small or the general contractor is familiar and trusted.
  2. Quoting- This is when the project manager will go out and get several quotes from different trades. This process is usually pretty hasty and the quotes are inaccurate. The advantage to this method is you get several quotes and you get to compare costs and it will not take as long as formal tendering. A disadvantage is that without a proper specification the quotes may be inaccurate and surprise costs will rise. You also do not get a chance to compare contractors experience.
  3. Formal Tendering– Formal tendering will involve a drawing and specification package prepared by the architect and engineer. The drawing package will include all of the details prepared during the planning stage of the project. An engineer will also prepare a specification package that will include all of the requirements for the project in writing. This document could explain simple items such as “The site will be cleaned at the end of each work day.” Or it could contain complex items related to unique challenges on the site. The tender package will also include a legal bid document that may include terms and conditions, scope of work, experience requirements for the contractor and expected quantities of the project. The advantage of the formal tendering process is that you will receive multiple quotes with a clearly defined scope of work and expectation from the contractors.  The disadvantage is these packages take time to prepare which means you will have higher consulting fees. Sometimes these fees are recuperated by having a clearly defined scope of work which will prevent project overruns.

Stage 3: Construction

Once a general contractor and skilled trades are selected the construction will begin. The architect and engineer will issue the last set of drawings usually labelled “Issued for Construction”. The engineer is going to want to inspect the construction at several critical stages. Some construction inspections will include:

  1. After excavation of the site to inspect the subsurface conditions. Depending on the size of the building and it’s designation a subsurface soil investigation from a geotechnical engineer may be required to determine the soil properties of the site.
  2. When the footings and walls are formed and the rebar is laid out. Typically an engineer will inspect the foundation before the concrete is poured and issue paperwork saying it is in compliance with the construction documents.
  3. During critical stages of erection of the structure.
  4. Periodic walk-throughs during the construction.
  5. Final inspection of the structure, grading and overall construction of the project.

Allowing the engineer to inspect the project during construction ensures the quality of the final product and early discovery of potential problems. At some stages of construction inspections are required to be performed by the engineer as determined by the building code. Normally these required inspections will be laid out in the specifications and scope of work documents for the project. You may also expect some inspections from your local Chief Building Official.

The general contractor for the project will organize all of the trades to complete the project. These trades may include surveying layout, excavation, concrete and foundations, framers, electrical, mechanical, carpenters, flooring and drywall installers, etc.


Completing construction projects requires many different professionals at various stages. All the professionals you hire will be able to guide you through the process from planning to construction. Engineers are typically well versed in this process as they are heavily involved throughout the entire project. It is important to hire a professional you can trust, most of the time when you hire an experienced project manager there will be unseen project savings through the efficient planning and execution of your project.

If you have a project that you may need some professional expertise with, be sure to contact your local engineer. If you are in Eastern Ontario then trust in the experience of IN Engineering for any of professional engineering requirements.

Do you think I missed something? Be sure to let me know from our contact page.


  1. […] For more information on planning be sure to check out our Construction Checklist […]

  2. […] Consultant fees can vary between 10% to 30% of the total building cost. Be sure to check our construction checklist for help with starting a project. IN Engineering is a structural engineering firm, however we do […]


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