Who’s Who? Breaking Out the Different Remodeling Companies

Justin Marston

Justin Marston

October 22, 2019

There are so many services out there competing for your attention and time in the remodeling world. Here's a quick rundown of who they are, what they do, and how they make their money. We like to make things simple for our customers, always making sure they aren't left wondering or with more questions! Here is our breakdown of the different people or businesses you might work with when trying to start your first remodel.

The chances are that, if you have done any of the first google searches you have stumbled across some bigger names like Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Porch, or Houzz but maybe were left wondering what the difference between them was or who would charge you?

We have broken down these companies on a spectrum, based on where you might interact with them during your remodel. Some companies offer a simple match; Some go further to offer you assistance. Some companies only offer design and some only contract for small services like cleaning or drywall repair. Depending on your needs, you can find which company offers the thing you need, and also learn more about how Bamboo is covering each of these steps for an all-inclusive process that takes our customer from beginning to end.

This article is a small overview of information. If you'd like to learn about and read more, download our comprehensive PDF guide that will run you through the in's and out's of each company.

Material Providers

HomeDepot & Lowes: These are the big names in material provision. With an almost guaranteed one store per town (if not more), they cover the broad expanse of the nation. They both offer large brand names of any materials you might need, as well as kitchen design and sometimes material installation at reasonable prices.

Build.com: The online world of material supply at affordable prices. Any and almost all brands are purchasable through Build.com. They carry lighting, plumbing, flooring, furniture, accessories and beyond. The customer service is excellent and they provide warranties but you won't be able to get any help with installation.

Wayfair: Similar to build but with more of a focus on the interior design end of things. Wayfair.com provides decor, rugs, accessories, mirrors, and much more. They have some tile options and offer great occasional discounts.

Houzz: As well as being a lead-based match-maker, Houzz also has an entire branch dedicated to shopping for products. Contractors can tag which products they used so you can easily "shop the look". They also provide homeowners with a broad variety of articles and information about the construction and remodeling world. Houzz covers a lot of bases and can help you find a contractor once you've purchased materials, but they will guarantee nothing beyond the introduction.

Bamboo: Although we don't provide any materials to our clients directly, we pass down any contractor discounts that we have. We don't believe in marking up materials and charging you more for something you could buy at the same price. Our construction operations team will also work alongside you and your interior designer to source affordable and appropriate materials for your remodel.

Interior Designers:
They provide you with the initial part of your remodel, but will leave you with plans and no construction.

Modsy: Is more of an interior decorator rather than designer but they can work with clients to help digitally render and transform a space. Modsy will work with you but primarily to decorate and finish your home once a remodel is finished or when you're first moving in. They cannot help you design a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room, because of the heavy amount of codes and permitting involved in each state. They can provide you with a beautiful visual to follow, but nothing more!

Home Polish: Focuses on interior design and has the means to provide full-service renovation projects through "vetted" contractors. They use interior designers from everywhere and offer a free consultation to get started. Their T&Cs explain, however, that they are not liable if anything goes wrong once they introduce you to the contractor. They assign you a project manager who helps oversee but ultimately has no control over the general contractor you hire. It also does not mention how they "vet" or where they find their trusted service providers.

Local Interior Designers: You can always find local interior designers as well. Sometimes they will have contractors they can refer you to, sometimes they only provide furnishings or plans; it depends on who you choose. Most traditional interior designers won't be able to provide you with as detailed or advanced renderings and designs as Bamboo or some of the online services might be able to. You will also end up getting charged at least $20 more per hour when you work with a local designer.

Bamboo: We can design your project and consider the design phase of remodeling one of the cornerstones to a project. If you don't get this step right, the rest of the project will not go smoothly. We have a bunch of interior designers waiting to work with you on your project. Just like Home Polish or Modsy you will meet with them online to discuss everything you need for your project and end up with a beautiful 3D design at the end. Once you're ready to move forward, you can continue on to the plan and build phases with us too!

Leads-based Matchmakers:
They charge a fee to introduce contractors to potential customers (homeowners like you).

HomeAdvisor: HomeAdvisor is like the Match.com of home improvement services. You can find anything (I mean anything) from their long list of services. You will answer some questions about the project you want done, and then HomeAdvisor will send your information to contractors in your area who match the project scope you specified in your questions. HomeAdvisor doesn't guarantee any of the people you hire for quality or legit-ness. They only take your information but will not charge you anything to match you with a contractor.

Thumbtack: Thumbtack has always focused on matchmaking customers (typically homeowners) and providers by selling "leads" to the providers, but how they do it has evolved. You are able to get messages from contractors and message them to ask questions or for a quote. Thumbtack only charges the contractors for the leads but you will not have to pay anything.

Angie's List: Today Angie's List is a hybrid of the two above. You don't need to login or create an account to see companies and reviews but you do need to fill out their forms in order to get to this information. This part feels a lot like HomeAdvisor and Thumbtack.

Porch: Porch started as a clone of HomeAdvisor - taking contact details of homeowners interested in doing home projects and then selling them to contractors and small businesses. Porch runs background checks on business owners like many of the companies described in this blog. They have two options for services depending on the size of your project. You can use Porch Services or Porch Pro Network; one for handyman projects, and one for larger projects like remodels or renovations.

Houzz: Architects, interior designers and general contractors post photos of their work to Houzz, and then homeowners can use these for inspiration and selecting contractors. Houzz is an excellent place to explore potential contractors in your area, while also getting design ideas. Houzz charges Pros to be in their "Houzz Pro" program, but doesn't require you to pay or fill out anything, you're free to call or e-mail any contractor or designer on their site.

Bamboo: We are actually the most different from these platforms, although one day we hope to have as many leads coming in as they do, we use these services to help us find our customers like you. We pay these companies to introduce us to customers wanting to do remodels.

Contract-based Matchmakers:
They take a small commission from the project if you select one of their contractors.

BuildZoom: Instead of just being a matchmaker, BuildZoom assigns their own concierge to each project, they introduce to several different general contractors, but BuildZoom only takes a fee from the contractor that wins. BuildZoom has a few other tricks up its sleeve, but in terms of introducing homeowners to contractors, the main difference is just the way the contractors get charged for the sales leads. One strength and challenge with this way of working is that each contract is still between the contractor and the customer - BuildZoom has no say in it and all the contracts are different. This gives BuildZoom less risk and more plausible deniability when things go wrong, but it doesn't help you out if you are in a fight with your contractor (introduced by BuildZoom) because there's relatively little that BuildZoom can do to fix it. They just don't have much legal leverage, they can only threaten to cut off future business, but given how many ways there are for contractors to find customers and most cities have labor shortages, this may not be an effective threat.

Sweeten: They assign a concierge from their own team to each project, who (according to their website) helps with "Setting a scope and budget, comparing estimates, checking in until your project is complete". They quote The New York Times on the same page describing Sweeten as "A free service that matches homeowners with vetted professionals". From their FAQs, they "receive a small commission from Sweeten experts on any renovation awarded to them." - around 2.5% to 3% fee of the total project value for each remodeling project that gets done through their service. Sweeten says they vet their contractors by checking licenses and insurance, conducting one-on-one interviews, checking their experiences and talking to their previous clients. It doesn't appear that Sweeten runs criminal background checks on the owners of these contracting businesses or their employees and subcontractors. The same page states that, "Sweeten general contractors guarantee their work for a minimum of one year - you can feel confident about the quality of their workmanship."

Bamboo: Since these are similar to the category above, we are still very different than them. We aim to not only provide each of our projects with an assigned project manager but also take them through all stages of design and construction holding full responsibility for the success of the project. We will help and guide you all the way through, and fix anything if it goes wrong.

Gig-Based Service Providers:
They sell the services (typically small projects) and staff them with freelancers, similar to Uber with rides.

Task Rabbit: was one of the first services to have a mobile app for hiring people for random home tasks. TaskRabbit runs criminal background checks on its taskers, and it has reviews of them. TaskRabbit is an option for small handyman tasks and other home services, but they don't cover remodels or work that requires permits. Good of like Uber but for any random task. TaskRabbit allowed homeowners to post tasks they needed doing and then people willing to do the task (taskers) could pitch themselves for the task - from shopping to cleaning to handyman services.

Handy: Is very similar to TaskRabbit but focused on cleaning services as the primary business, mostly done on a subscription basis (you have to sign up for cleaning something like every two weeks). They also have some basic handyman services - including painting, electrical and plumbing. These services are rather expensive though, for example, each painter costs $60 per hour from Handy in Austin, which is much higher than what interior painters typically earn.

Porch: As we mentioned above, Porch started life as kind of a clone of HomeAdvisorbut now offers the two options of service based on your project needs. Since one of the services is meant for smaller projects, Porch falls into both categories here.

Bamboo: We do operate similarly to these companies, in that we take projects from an online marketplace and complete them using our team of vetted pros, the difference is that these companies focus on only small tasks like drywall repair or building decks. These companies also don’t take much responsibility if something on the project goes wrong and won't take on the more daunting task of an entire remodel.

General Contractors:
Tons of small businesses, and Bamboo - they actually do the remodels, taking responsibility for a successful outcome.

Bamboo: Now for us, Bamboo. We are a general contractor in Austin, TX that uses technology to make remodeling better. We were born from the need to centralize and streamline the remodeling process; construction can be a disorganized disaster and we wanted to fix that.

Our CEO struggled through the process of dealing with traditional general contractors. He learned about the typical way that bids are handled, how many details are forgotten and how easily a bid can double if something was overlooked or needs to be changed. He realized how scary this can be for homeowners and how no one wants to be left with their home in pieces and no end result to show for the money they invested, in the wrong contractor.

At Bamboo, we operate as a full service beginning to end contracting service. Our goal is to take our customers through the remodeling process in a better way than the standard. We let you dream up an incredible design with one of our talented interior designers after we give you a complimentary 3D scan of your home. We will then provide you with an estimate and give you the option to move forward on your project. You will have a dedicated Project Manager whom you will be in touch with often during your project, we also give you an entire dedicated construction operations team who can provide you with 24/7 support on your project. All of our material discounts will be passed down to you, and we give you the opportunity to search on your own to see if you can find better deals too!

We don't want to make our money on materials. Our businesses success depends on how well we are able to efficiently remodel your home with you.

If you still have any questions about who is who, or who is Bamboo, we are always ready by the phone to answer your questions.
Our goal is optimum service to our clients, give us a call today! 512-542-9790

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“Working with Bamboo App on our remodel project has been a breathe of fresh air. The use of technology to facilitate the project moving forward while also giving the homeowner oversight into the scope of work, timeline and budget is a true revelation for the industry.

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August 18, 2018

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