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Adapting To A Changing Renovation Landscape

In late March, an article ran in the Wall Street Journal discussing the rising difficulties of renovating. As the reporter Rachel Wolfe writes at the outset, “a surge of home renovations in recent years combined with a shortage of contractors is turning more repairs and remodels into never-ending nightmares.” These sorts of projects have admittedly never been completely easy, but as Wolfe notes, macroeconomic factors have exacerbated the existing fissures and weaknesses within the industry.

The article caught our eye because the problems that Wolfe identifies are precisely the ones we’ve been working to solve here at Block Renovation. While these problems were aggravated recently, they’ve actually been baked into the standard renovation experience for a long time— and they’re the problems that motivated us to start our business years ago. So we wanted to share some of the things we’ve been working on that have been essential in our ability to build a better renovation experience for everyone involved, resistant to the sorts of shocks and ruptures that Wolfe identifies.

A Good Contractor Is Hard To Find

One thing that Wolfe’s article nails is that a good contractor is hard to find— and when you do find one, their schedules may be booked for months out. This was always a problem, but as the popularity of home renovation projects skyrockets, it is proving to be a particularly thorny issue.

That’s why one of the first things that we did was establish a vetted contractor network that homeowners can have access to. Every partner in the network undergoes a rigorous vetting process, meaning that unqualified or unreliable contractors won’t make the cut. No rushed jobs, and no shoddy work. More importantly, this means that any homeowner looking to renovate can get the earliest start date possible— rather than working around a single contractor’s schedule, you’re matched to a contractor based on the general availability of all the local businesses in the network, meaning that your partner is the best possible fit for your schedule.

Marching Towards Completion

Another point mentioned in the article is the difficulty of closing out a project. There are plenty of horror stories where a contractor might take forever to finish a renovation, leaving your place in shambles for months on end.

It’s a problem that we explicitly aimed to solve when developing our renovation process. We are able to do this in a few ways. First, we ensure that payments are tied to milestone completions. That way, payment isn’t released until distinct points of the project are hit, meaning that everyone is incentivized to keep the project moving along. Second, in cases where there’s a challenge in closing out, Block can serve as a neutral third party that can help mediate the relationship. Finally, only contractors with repeated positive performance can stay in the network, meaning that anyone you’re paired with will be someone who has demonstrated successful collaboration in the past.

Delivering Accurate Estimates

The unreliability of costs is something that the article also introduces, and it’s definitely a core issue for many homeowners looking to renovate. Estimates can often be unreliable, and it’s hard to predict how a project will ultimately pan out.

At Block, estimates are generated using an advanced calculation tool that factors in the thousand projects we’ve done in the past, local data, and more to deliver a highly accurate range. This data-backed approach gives homeowners an honest estimate that they can use to budget their projects. No lowballs or no hidden fees involved.

Ultimately, renovating is going to be a complex experience. There’s no way around that. But by creating a series of resources and safety nets, it’s possible to create a process that’s free from the radical disruptions and challenges Wolfe writes about— a process better for both homeowners and contractors alike.