Finding home project professionals easier with new startups

Porch.com brainchild of a Seattle entrepreneur who found himself in need of finding right professionals to build his new home


Matt Ehrlichman knows first hand how hard it can be to find the right people for your home improvement projects.

He was working on his first home in Seattle, Washington in search of the right professionals to do the work. It was in that need that Ehrlichman, an entrepreneur, created  Porch.com.

"Before we we're all trying to figure out who to call and which friend might have hired a roofer before or plumber before and now you can go online and see literally who your neighbors used the most, who the neighborhood favorite is" said Ehrlichman, chief executive officer of Porch.

Porch.com is a home improvement network where neighbors can share project ideas and professionals.   The professionals can also post their projects.

The website is accessible by your mobile device or online, it's free for homeowners and renters to check out projects neighbors have done, how much they spent and which professionals they used.

Ehrlichman launched Porch.com in Seattle last year with just 25 employees.  In just a matter of months the company has grown to 140 employees.  The site has 90 million projects from all over the country.

To date, 1.5 million professionals are on Porch.com in 250 repair, maintenance and home improvement categories from painters to plumbers to roofers.

"If homeowners want to come on Porch they can actually see beautiful pictures of the remodels from down the street and what they cost and then who the professionals are who do exactly that type of work in their actual neighborhood and no one has never been able to do that before," said Ehrlichman.

Porch.com partnered with Lowe's Home Improvement to connect with consumers.  Signs are posted strategically in stores asking customers if they "Need a painter" or "Need an electrician," for example.  The signs direct customers to check out Porch.com.   Lowe's employees can also refer customers to the website.

"We can highlight not just good professionals, but ones your neighbors have actually used, time and time again, for specific types of projects," said Ehrlichman.

1-800 HANSONS is one of the metro Detroit area professionals already using Porch.com.

"The response from my customers was immediate, and we can guide our customers when we need other services that 1-800 HANSONS doesn't do, we guide them to Porch," said Brian Elias, president of 1-800 HANSONS. "They're really now our recommendation site to find the right contractor to do the other jobs that we don't do."

Elias said his customers love Porch.com.

"This is an opportunity for mom to find what she wants, when she wants it, on her terms, in her home, on her time with no pressure and that's really what its all about," Elias said.

There is no charge for people to access Porch.com

Porch.com is also not the only new home improvement start up website.  Pro.com recently launched and asks consumers to list their projects and provides a "Pre-estimate" and tries to help connect consumers with professionals.

There are also reports Amazon plans to get involved with local services, launching a marketplace that could help people find everything from baby-sitters to plumbers.