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) - Great technology is finally hitting one of its long-awaited frontiers, the $500 billion home improvement market.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, when faced with a choice, many homeowners decide to improve their homes rather than move. Yet, the toughest choice isn't whether to spend $2,500 on a bathroom remodel or $5,000 on a kitchen update. No, the most difficult decision is choosing which professionals to hire. After all, the wrong specialist can cost much more in the long run.
Over the past decade, the Internet has made it easier for homeowners to research potential hires. The truth is, however, it's difficult to trust that any feedback posted on the Internet actually came from a past customer. Which is why technology is the logical next step.
For example, a new website, Porch.com
, is building a network of word-of-mouth endorsements from neighbors and friends.
Unlike sites that rely on anonymous reviews, Porch gives homeowners the ability to access information never before available to review the work history of professionals, research who has worked on homes like theirs, see who their Facebook friends love and learn what any project costs. Homeowners are able to view professionals and projects on a map of their neighborhood and zoom in for details on costs, photos and professionals. It's like a 24-7 open house without leaving your computer.
Porch's founding team has been building what it considers to be the most comprehensive database on home improvement.
"Until now, a roof repair, kitchen remodel or backyard landscaping project has been frustrating and painful because there is no single source to evaluate projects, understand costs and find professionals based on trusted word-of-mouth recommendations," says Matt Ehrlichman, Porch's Chairman and CEO. "Porch is changing this by organizing home project information and providing transparency to everyone across the country. The purpose? To help inspire project ideas, show what any project costs, and make hiring the right home improvement professional easy."
Currently the website boasts more than 1.5 million professionals to chose from, and insight into 90 million home improvement projects across the country. Porch has specific data on more than $2 trillion worth of home improvement projects from the last 15 years, a figure larger than the entire economy of the United Kingdom. What's more, Porch.com is a free service, unlike Angie's List, which charges subscription fees for homeowners. Porch is also free for professionals to join with the option of adding business tools for $35 per month.
To learn more, visit Porch.com.