The Internet is full of great information when you’re considering remodeling your Naples-area home. Site’s like houzz.com can provide you with ample amounts of inspiration and ideas. Blogs like ours can answer many of the questions you may have about the remodeling process. The Internet, however, can be a bit of a two-edged sword when it comes to finding the right remodeler for your project. That’s why you should be cautious when searching for contractors on third party websites. Let’s look at a few of the more popular sites and what they have to offer as reported by ConsumerReports.com.
This site is good for user review reliability. They have a proprietary process for verifying that reviews are authentic, including an annual audit by an outside company to prevent service providers from reviewing themselves favorably or their competitors unfavorably.
Be Aware: Contractors who advertise on Angie's List show up first in search results when the default search option "with coupons" is used.
Consumers find HomeAdvisor.com helpful for cost guidance and prescreening of pros. The site matches you with up to four highly rated pros that are actually available to do the job. It also uses third-party sources to perform background checks of every service provider it accepts.
Be Aware: HA checks for criminal convictions go back only three years; its search of civil judgments goes back only one year and it does not check for complaints filed at state attorney general or consumer affairs agencies.
As mentioned above, this site is great for design ideas and inspiration. They have a huge archive of idea-inspiring photos of home interiors, exteriors, and design materials. You can also search for the design pros and other contractors to do the work. You can also shop for the materials, appliances, and fixtures needed.
Be Aware: Professionals who pay to advertise can buy a prominent spot in the search results. In fact, "sponsored" listings with no Houzz user reviews or star rating can rank higher than top-rated professionals who didn't advertise. Paid results are marked "sponsored," but in light gray type that's easy to miss.
This site helps you find contractors that are rated by the Better Business Bureau and provides descriptions and photos of roughly 138 million home projects. That allows you to gauge what your budget will buy and browse lower-cost alternatives, such as a cabinet face-lift instead of a full kitchen remodel.
Be Aware: “Guaranteed pros” must pass a "comprehensive background check," but that is based on user reviews, licenses, project history, and "anything [Porch.com] can find on the Internet."
Where Does That Leave You?
Third party websites such as these can be helpful—as far as they go. Often, however, they don’t tell the whole story. It can be difficult to tell if the project being worked on is of the quality or complexity as the one you have planned. It’s also difficult to get a good feel for the process and what the contractor was like to work with. You can get sort of a baseline by using these sites, but you’ll need more than that if you’re planning to spend good money on your home renovation.
You’ll want to know more about your contractor before you make a decision. You’ll want to know about his or her experience, knowledge, and reputation for quality. You’ll also want to know that you’re dealing with someone you’re comfortable with and that your contractor is someone you can trust. To get that information, you’ll actually need to talk to a few contractors (and here are some great questions to ask any remodeler you’re considering using).
Third-party websites can provide you with some helpful information but you need to be aware of their limitation. You’ll want to take things a step or two further in order to ensure your remodeling project turns out the way you planned.