What happens in construction?

If your project is about to start construction, you’re probably wondering how you can track the progress of your renovation. What happens during each major stage of your project? What does Rough MEP and framing actually mean? This article provides a general break-down of the major construction milestones and the typical work done within a milestone.

For an up to date look at your construction progress, refer to the Construction Tracker page of your project’s Renovation Hub.



The first major construction milestone involves demolishing your existing kitchen or bathroom. Before demolition starts, site protection is installed to protect the parts of the house that are not being demolished. This includes flooring protection along the path from the work area to the front door, temporary plastic walls to contain dust within the work area, and material to protect walls and trim from damage. Most of this protection will remain up for the duration of the renovation. We will work with you during design to create a site protection plan that protects your home while minimizing interference to your daily life. We will work off of this plan when setting up site protection. If you need to remove any site protection to access something, please let us know so that we can fix it before the next period of dusty work.

Demolition itself is usually a quick process. We work off of a demolition plan which is part of our construction drawings. We dispose of any fixtures or materials that are not being reinstalled. If any fixtures are to be reinstalled in the new design, we will remove and protect them so that they can be reinstalled when the time comes. Demolition may involve removing all or part of your drywall and floors. The extent of removal depends on the room’s condition and the amount of plumbing and electrical changes happening in the walls and floors.

Demolition can be loud, but it is not the only dusty part of construction.

We encourage you to (carefully) explore the space after demolition has finished. This is a rare opportunity to see inside your walls. In older houses demolition exposes details of your house’s evolution that you may not have known about.

Rough MEP and Framing

Rough MEP and Framing

Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Rough refers to the first stage of work done in each of these three systems. This is the work required to facilitate your design that will be covered up before the end of the project. For example, if a bathtub is being converted to a shower, a plumber has to replace the old tub’s drain line with a larger sized drain line to meet modern plumbing codes.

Electrical and plumbing work usually requires us to shut off those services to the entire house for at least a short period in order to complete the work. If you are occupying the home during the renovation, we will ensure that these services are restored at the end of each work day.

Mechanical work relates to the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation of your home. This typically includes installation of the exhaust hood for a kitchen renovation and installation of the exhaust fan for a bathroom renovation.

These changes lay the groundwork for your new design, but they can go slowly. This stage involves a number of different trades and municipal inspections. Don’t be surprised if days go by during this stage with nobody on site working.

This stage can also involve an assortment of framing activities. If any walls are being added, removed, or relocated, that work happens during this stage. We will also do framing work that enables future aspects of the design, such as adding supports for fixtures or correcting walls or floors that are not flat enough for a clean tile installation.

Floor and Wall Finishes

Bathroom Remodel Oakland

This is where we start putting your house back together again! Tile, drywall, and wood are all installed during this stage. Each of these surfaces are installed by a different specialist and the process for each can take multiple days. If your project involves drywall, please be aware that this work can be dusty. We will do everything we can to control the dust, but please let us know if we need to do any cleanup.

Cabinets, Countertops, and Backsplash

white kitchen cabinets in San Francisco

If your project is a simple bathroom remodel then your project will skip straight through this stage.

Now that the floors are in, your cabinets can be installed. The cabinets come as hundreds of different pieces that all come together in your home to create a unified system. These pieces can take up a lot of space, so we store them in our warehouse until a few days before they are needed on site.

Once the cabinets are in place, we template the countertop that goes on top. Creating a template for countertops refers to the use of laser scanning or gluing thin strips of plywood to create a pattern that exactly measures out the shape of the space that the countertop will fill. This is more precise than cutting a countertop based on drawings and will ensure a perfect fit.

Pieces of plywood

Pieces of plywood are put together to template the shape and size to be cut

Substantial Completion

Kitchen Remodel San Francisco

We consider a project to be “substantially complete” when the room can be used for its intended purpose. In this phase we complete all the various odds and ends that are not done in earlier phases. This stage includes installing plumbing fixtures, installing lighting and switches to complete the electrical system, painting and installing millwork, installing accessories such as towel bars, and final coats of paint on the walls and ceiling.

During this stage we will start to remove equipment and supplies from the storage area if they are not needed anymore. We will also start to remove site protection when it is no longer needed.


At the start of this stage you can begin using the space. Also at the start of this stage Skylight performs a quality review to confirm that all installations and work done meets Skylight standards. After our review and after you have had some time to use the space, we create a list of minor fixes such as touching up the paint on your cabinets or repairing any minor imperfections that remain. These items are added to what is referred to in the industry as a ‘Punchlist.’ 

Skylight will not consider a project 100% complete until all punchlist items are complete and everything is to your satisfaction. Skylight will do a final walk through with you to ensure all punchlist items have been completed.