There are no end to the books and magazines at the local book store on renovation and design. Unfortunately, just about all of them focus on how beautiful the house looks when the renovation is complete. Precious few deal with such mundane topics as how to hire a contractor, renovation contracts, air-leakage control, and so on.
Fortunately, there are a couple of government sites we found with great little booklets on just these topics.
The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation offers a number of great booklets, including a "before you start..." series. These booklets outline a number of things you should know before you start renovating your basement, building a new addition, doing an energy-efficient retrofit,repairing your roof, replacing exterior walls, insulating your house, and many more. The pdf version can be downloaded directly from the site, or a free printed version can be ordered by calling the toll-free number.
Natural Resources Canada has a large portion of its website dedicated to residential improvements. The site has information on applying for grants and financial assistance, choosing appliances, picking heating, cooling and ventilation equipment, windows, doors and skylights, along with information on the Energystar program and the R-2000 building standard. There are tons of publications that can be ordered for free on topics such as controling air-leakage and improving window energy efficiency.
Both of these sites are great sites to check for free information before begining a renovation.