How to Systematically Manage Your Renovations

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Larossa Workshop Blog/How to Systematically Manage Your Renovations

Using jobs, blocks, and phases to manage projects.

Renovating houses is fast and mean. It requires the ability to problem solve quickly and great agility. It requires intense planning even though you know that your plan will fail. Therefore, it is all about accepting that fact and having systems in place to allow you to more easily roll with the punches that will inevitably land. In other types of construction like building new houses or doing commercial work you are able to be much more methodical. For instance, in new building you start with a blank slate and can plan every step of the way down to the schedules and dollar amount. Whereas with renovations, you just never know what you might find inside those walls, you never know when your Carpenter won’t show up because last night was a bit too rough, or when you find out that your painter just landed in jail. This means that in renovations, your plan is always changing and instead of fighting it you need to know how to systematically roll with the punches. This is the spirit of the Larossa Systems.

We use the Larossa Systems which consist of:

  • ​Jobs
  • ​Blocks
  • ​Phases
  • ​Projects
  • ​The Jobs Menu
  • ​Stages
  • ​Audibles
  • ​Change Orders
  • ​The Trifecta
  • ​The Tert (Tertiary)

Jobs, Blocks, Phases, Projects, and The Jobs Menu

This is a template which has rules for set up and movement. Every Project starts with the same set up. Here is a link to the “Jobs Menu.” This is the Template off of which every Project starts. The idea here is to make sure that a Project only moves “downstream” and never “upstream.”

First you must understand the terminology and the order/hierarchy:

Project —> Phase—> Block—>Job

This would be the House that you are doing a renovation on.
Example: “Renovation at 1000 Jefferson Pkwy”
If I was doing a Quadplex I would break it into 5 different projects. Each unit and “building”

Every Project has 6 Phases(see below). These are the same for every Project.

Inside of every Phase there are 1 or multiple Blocks or groupings of Jobs

A job would be “Install Countertops” or “Interior Framing”

A Job is something like “Lay LVP Flooring” or “Rough In Electrical.” In the jobs menu you can find all (or at least the ones we commonly use on investment grade renovations) of the jobs in their respective Blocks. Blocks live inside of Phases which live inside of Projects. A Project would be something like “Remodel at 1000 Jefferson Pkwy.”

Project —> Phase—> Block—> Job

The Blocks and Phases are always in the same order and have the same Jobs inside of them. Everyone that works with you should know what the Blocks/Phases are, what Jobs are in them, and most importantly that YOU DO NOT MOVE ON TO THE NEXT PHASE UNTIL THE PREVIOUS IS COMPLETE. This is the key. These are set up in the most dummy proof way possible.

Phase 0
The Office Block - Including, but not limited to:
Project planning
Utilities on
Budget checks
Getting all Project information to anybody necessary

Phase 1
Tabularossa Block
This block is where demo and framing live. This is the most important block. It's where we create a “Blank Slate” on which we can do the rest of the Project. In this Block we will find the most surprises as well. Ideally after this Phase/Block we can replan(if necessary) and KNOW how the rest of the project will play out. PS. Tabula Rasa is Latin for “clean slate.” This is how the name was derived.
The Grounds Block
This is basically any major earth moving that needs to happen. Getting your property right for drainage, any building, etc.

Phase 2
The Gauntlet Block
This is where HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing is roughed in and insulation is installed if necessary. This is also where all of your rough inspections will take place which is where it gets its name - The Gauntlet. You will spend the most time in this Block so plan your time appropriately.
The Utilities
You will do all of your outdoor utility work here like sewer lines, power lines, etc.

Phase 3
The Pre-Game Block
You will do all drywall, paint, flooring here. Basically you will have the shell made to start installing all the pretty stuff
The Replacement Block
If your project requires big exterior replacements like windows, siding, gutters, etc. you will do it here. As opposed to “The Exterior Block” in Phase 4 which is more for repairs and such.

Phase 4
The Kitchen Block
All kitchen installs minus Trim out MEP(Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) and Appliances
The Bathroom Block
All bathroom installs minus Trim out MEP(Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing)
The Carpentry Block
All Carpentry finishes and special projects(like a mantle or railing)
The Exterior Block
Exterior repairs and some installs(bigger jobs would be done in “The Replacement Block” of Phase 3)

Phase 5
The Trim Out Block
All MEP Trim outs
Exterior Finishes
The Landscaping Block
You get it

Phase 6
The Finale Block
Handyman Repairs - We always leave some budget for little things needing fixed at the end

From project to project there will be ways to make things more efficient as you’ll read about with Audibles, but the goal with this system is to make sure that you do not do a job that will have to be undone later(going “upstream”). For instance, Rough Electrical is in Phase 2 while Drywall is in Phase 3. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to put the Drywall on before you have had Rough Electrical completed and inspected(we have seen this happen before).

The Blocks are set up in a way that allows for you to plan multiple Blocks(or groupings of Jobs) in the same Phase with different contractors/crew but they can be worked on at the same time. This is helpful for keeping track of things and keeping the amount of Jobs handed to each contractor/crew at a minimum. Otherwise you start having problems with budgets(both time and money). Depending on the Project you may choose to disregard Blocks and only work in Phases.

For each Phase we will go through planning to make sure that we haven’t gained any new information about the Project that changes our initial plans. We will then collect money needed to complete. We will then get all materials for the Phase onto the jobs to create maximum efficiency.


It is also important to understand that each Phase has 4 distinct Stages:
1. Planning
     All Materials ordered and deliver for full phase
     Subcontractors scheduled or crew informed
     Review budgets
     Call any Audibles(see next section)
2. Waiting
     Everything is ready to be worked on. No obstacles in the way other than scheduling to get boots on the ground.
     The goal is to work fast to get every Project to the Waiting Stage.
3. WIP(work in progress)
     This is boots on the ground completing all of the Jobs in a Phase
4. B&R(Billing and Review)
     Did the money and time work out as expected?
     If no, how can I make this up in future Phases?
     Collect money, get a loan draw, move money from escrow, etc.

Audibles, Change Orders, and The Trifecta
Next come Audibles. As mentioned above in regard to the Jobs inside each Block, they are always initially the same. The above explanation is the STANDARD. The standard will always get you to a finished Projects however, for some Projects you can create time and money efficiencies(i.e. You can complete the Project faster and for less money) by calling an Audible which means moving a Job or even a whole Block from one Phase to another. An example would be if we had a framing crew in to work in the Tabularossa Block of Phase 1 and a deck to be built in the Exterior Block of Phase 4 we may considering Audibling the deck build Job to Phase 1 so we wouldn’t have to get the framing crew out there twice. You may ask “why wouldn’t the Job always be in Phase 1?” The answer is that sometimes in The Utilities Block of Phase 2 there is Underground Sewer Replacement Job. If this were the case it would be a huge mistake to have built the deck where I need to dig.

So to summarize: The Jobs menu is set up to avoid costly mistakes. It is NOT set up to be perfectly efficient. This is where we use Audibles.

A Change Order is pretty standard throughout the industry. This is basically when either you decide to add a Job or alter the extent to which a Job job is done ultimately altering the budget(either time or money). Or the contractor finds something that needs to be done that was missed up to this point(like termites in the wall). First STOP working, then figure out exactly how this will impact both the time and the money then update your overall plan accordingly.

The Trifecta is an important piece which is made up of the:
 *Money Plan: Whatever money you have put aside for the Project or lending you have taken on
 *Budget: The planned Time and Money for the Project
 *Project Manager: The person managing the project. Or if you are DIYing as the GC or PM you need to make sure all of the Subs are aware of these changes.

At all times we must ensure that the 3 things are aligned. Using the example above of the Deck Build Audible. We would need to move the money and time budget allotted for this Job on our budget sheets. We would need to make sure that the money is adjusted(additional loans or whatever is necessary. Hopefully you have planned for a contingency on the Project which should be customary for Renovations). And need to make sure that the PM(therefore any foreman/crew on the jobsite) is aware of the move.

The Tert (Tertiary)

This is basically a hanging Audible, a perfect example is usually the Job of hanging new gutters. This can typically be done either on the first day of the job or the last day and it doesn’t alter anything else(not if you have a roof replacement or soffit/fascia work). For a Tert we would collect/escrow the money on day one and get the material to the jobsite with our Phase 1 material load. Then we would keep Audibling that Job until we were able to do it with the most efficiency. An example would be having a crew there to complete a Block in Phase 4 but they get done at 2 PM so instead of swapping them to another Project we would have them start on The Tert ultimately increasing our efficiency and decreasing time and money on the Project.

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Hi, I'm Ross Paller

CEO Of Larossa

After flipping over 300 houses, holding a portfolio of 150 properties, and creating a successful construction company for over a decade, I felt compelled to pay it forward by sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated on my journey.

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We spent over a decade focusing on one thing: creating systems to remove the complexity and headaches that come along with renovating a home.
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