Unlike other industries that have adapted to technological innovations and been boosted by adopting more consumer-centric operating models, the home renovation/remodeling industry has become antiquated, inept and fragmented.
The lack of transparency and uncompetitive, unchecked nature of the home renovation industry causes the headline-making renovation horror stories that are commonplace in almost every news outlet, along with the prevalent, unhealthy distrust between homeowners and renovation professionals. Yet the remodeling industry makes well over $300B and is growing at an average speed of over 7 percent. We are now looking at even bigger growth amid labor shortages and more construction planned.
This can’t go on – a home is an emotional and expensive investment (for most, the most expensive investment they’ll ever make), and renovation is an essential part of preserving that investment, and increasing a home’s value. The process isn’t easy or fair to any of the industry’s stakeholders. Home renovation professionals need jobs, and the current state of the industry doesn’t make finding them fair to all those entering the market without serious marketing budgets.
Still, more than 59.4 percent of homebuyers conduct renovation projects. Instead of choosing for brand-new, turnkey properties in the burbs, today’s homebuyers are opting for homes in or near cities. Additionally, an increased focus on sustainability has driven 20 percent of homeowners to consider at least one of their projects for energy efficiency purposes. The desire for “homes with character” is also contributing to the prevalence of home renovation projects. In short, it’s evident that the industry isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
Unfortunately, this popular, nearly $400 billion industry is plagued by unknowns and doubt. This creates a fear of renovation – what we call renophobia. When it comes to home renovation, it’s difficult to know what to do first, how the process works and how to find the right professional. Our access to professionals is often limited to those our friends and neighbors know since there isn’t a clear vetting system. This causes the talked-about contractors, architects, etc., to become flooded with jobs while the others suffer, even though there is plenty of demand.
While 60 percent of homebuyers are renovating, others walk away from properties that need some work because of the fears associated with the home improvement process. Fears that contribute to renophobia include going over budget, finding financing, hiring a shady contractor, unclear pricing, delays and a general lack of understanding.
The home renovation industry shouldn’t be like this. Instead of being afraid, we need to call for change.
Today’s consumers demand transparency and immediacy – we can find every restaurant near us in seconds, determine the best car insurance rates at the touch of a button and compare travel deals on the way out the door. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that millennials, “will make their presence felt in the owner-occupied market.” This tech-loving demographic isn’t likely to accept the way the renovation industry operates today – rather, their expectations of immediacy and readily available information will cause a transformation of the industry, just like they did in the marketing and fundraising industries.
But what does change look like? Sure, home renovation shows are more popular than ever, and related sites provide places to showcase idealistic home photos, as well as present those professionals who can afford to be visible on them while leaving behind those without marketing budgets or a lack of understanding of the platforms. This leaves homeowners’ desire for reasonably priced contractors unfulfilled. Ultimately, these things don’t fix the core problem: the home renovation industry is plagued by a lack of transparency that leads to problems for homeowners as well as renovation professionals. If renovation pros are spending big bucks on advertising efforts to become visible, that cost is going to get passed down to the homeowner who hires him or her. Homeowners also make mistakes and often have unrealistic expectations or lack basic industry knowledge, which all cause problems. Ultimately, we need to call for and implement changes that will improve the renovation process for everyone involved.
We will only change the industry when we create a marketplace with readily accessible information and tools that reveal a transparent structure. That is Kukun’s mission. We’re building tools that help homeowners make informed decisions about home renovation. Instead of calling various contractors to get an idea of what a renovation project will cost, homeowners can get an accurate, customized answer to this question with Kukun’s Cost Estimator. With our Projected Home Value tool, homeowners can see how those renovations will affect the value of their homes, and then make an informed decision about what to take on. Kukun built a machine-learning algorithm into the process that predicts the Return on Investment (ROI) of any remodeling project. We utilize a range of data, including house sale history, permits that were pulled nearby, the health of the local real estate market, crime rate, unemployment, CPI, etc.
Making the industry more transparent and navigable includes creating a common language between homeowners and renovation professionals.
Finding the right professional cannot happen through an online directory if your project is serious. We all hire through word of mouth, where someone we know can vouch for the contractor. Instead, Kukun launched Find a Pro near me, which allows customers to see whom their neighbors have worked with, what the pro’s online reputation is, which addresses he or she worked at, etc. Kukun uses permit data to identify contractors’ history, and then vets whether they are licensed, insured, etc. Their online reputations are collected through reviews on various platforms and then summarized in a readable format for the homeowner. With this feature, Kukun ensures neutrality when choosing the right professional.
With Compare Quotes, Kukun offers homeowners the ability to compare bids received from contractors – apples to apples. Then, using Manage, homeowners can see the bid schedule and receive notifications for every task’s start and end dates, in addition to notifications to shop for what is needed to avoid delays in ordering materials. Kukun is constantly working on releasing more features that promise to alter the industry in a positive way and bring this antiquated, offline market into today’s world.
Kukun is ultimately building a community. We’re here to help homeowners. But we know successful, pain-free renovations only happen when those homeowners can find the right professionals, and we know it isn’t easy for professionals to gain the needed visibility. Kukun Professional Network is about connection and creating a common language between homeowners and renovation professionals. Architects, interior designers, contractors, real estate agents, bankers – everyone involved in the home improvement industry can create a profile for free. We want homeowners to have positive renovation experiences, and we want industry professionals to easily find jobs.
It’s time for the home renovation industry to change. Explore Kukun’s tools, and then let us know what you like, what we can improve and how we can work towards a more transparent industry that makes it easy to create dream homes.