Technology

Searchable database of remodeling projects tracks costs, home specifications

Porch plans to let agents add projects to listings

Porch, a home remodeling site that’s raised more than $33 million, has unveiled new features to make it a stickier destination for homeowners, as it seeks to position itself as more of a resource for buyers, sellers and real estate agents.

Taking a page out of Houzz’s book, Porch has rolled out a user-generated depository of remodeling projects that homeowners can browse and contribute to. What’s special about this “inspiration” platform is that it tracks project costs and the specifications of the homes associated with those projects, said Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of Porch.

That way, you can hone in on, say, kitchen remodels that cost $10,000 for homes worth between $1 million and $2 million that span between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet.

The contents of its project search portal will rely on contributions not just from professionals, but also from actual homeowners.

Ehrlichman envisions a growing number of sellers claiming their homes to upload projects or tweak those already documented by Porch to ensure that buyers can get an accurate picture of a home’s history.

Buyers can already access Porch data through realtor.com. In March, the search portal began allowing users to order Porch-generated property reports from listing detail pages.

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Ehrlichman said it’s possible Porch might syndicate a small amount of its data, like the total dollar amount of improvements to a home since its last sale, to other real estate sites, opening the door for its name and numbers to surface all over the place.

Keeping in mind the potential influence of its data on a home’s image, Porch plans to eventually allow real estate agents to add to a home’s project history, according to Ehrlichman.

The site also has taken steps to build more trust with users. It now shows which professionals are licensed, and verifies that reviews of professionals are from homeowners who actually worked with them.

Porch claims to offer data on over 120 million projects and 1.5 million professionals.

Through a special partnership with Porch, Lowe’s has equipped employees at all 1,720 locations of the improvement store’s locations with tools that allow them to use the Porch network to connect customers with local professionals.

Ehrlichman said Lowe’s also led Porch’s $27.6 million Series A funding round, which closed near the end of 2013. According to Porch spokesman Craig Cincotta, the funding round valued the startup at more than $85 million.