A Manifesto For The Home Renovation Industry

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Home Renovation is Broken

For decades now, home renovation has been the bane of the real estate and construction industries. The process for homeowners is opaque, random and confusing. And it's no better for professionals.

Companies like AngiesList, BBB and HomeAdvisor are often hailed as solutions by a public eager for change. But the reality felt by those on the ground is that nothing has changed - unplanned costs to homeowners doing renovations in 2016 totaled $56B while the same year saw 644,000 failed projects. The tension on the ground between homeowner and professionals persist. The level of distrust between them remains high.

Maybe vetting professionals and matching them with just anyone is not the answer?

The Real Problem

After years of research, questioning, experimenting and building solutions, the team at Bolster has come to believe that the core reason the renovation experience remains so painful for everyone is that the process itself is broken and that this prevents owners from getting to understand and believe in the true cost of their project. That's right, the conventional notion that it's all about bad contractors running off with deposits does not stand up to scrutiny. Instead we see a lack of transparency and analytics about the true costs of renovating forcing owners and professionals to engage unwittingly in a vicious bidding process that results in professionals accepting and trying to deliver under-resourced projects that are destined to fail before they've begun.

Here's a breakdown of our thesis:

  1. Owners have no reliable way of knowing how much their renovation project actually costs to do correctly;
  2. When presented with figures from qualified professionals they typically don't believe the accuracy of the costs;
  3. The owner finds a contractor (usually inexperienced, desperate for work or struggling financially) willing to provide a lower price;
  4. The project encounters difficulties, delays and cost overruns;
  5. The professionals and owners blame one another while the true culprit, the underlying renovation process, gets off scot-free.

There needs to be a better way.

Someone needs to redesign the renovation process.

That someone, appears to be us.

A Better Way

Bolster is building a full-stack home renovation solution atop a powerful new process, one where:

  • The best Professionals are paired with only Qualified Owners
  • Pricing is revealed in its purest form and guaranteed to be accurate
  • Owners, Architects and Contractors collaborate with one another
  • Projects are delivered successfully with less cost, effort and surprise
  • The User Experience is positive for all parties

Our approach is new. Many "experts" think it's impossible and that the industry is just too broken and too convoluted to fix. To that we say we'd rather fail being bold than succeed being mediocre - America doesn't need another AngiesList.

What We Believe

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Alignment, Empowerment, Betterment

These three simple yet powerful words guide our efforts every day at Bolster.

When applied, they help make it possible for professionals and owners to enjoy their renovation experience and achieve success together. 

One For All, All For One

We don't think it made sense to put Leo, all handsome and at the pinnacle of his acting career, in a movie where he was forced to wear an iron mask. We do however think it makes perfect sense to filter every decision we make in building the Bolster platform through the interests of the Architect, Contractor and Owner first to ensure everyone has a great user experience. In turn, our platform and its professionals come together to serve the interest of every single owner.

Radical Transparency

By providing data, insights and analytics at every level of the renovation process, we make it possible for owners and professionals to make good decisions together.

Unfiltered Truth

We are brutally honest with each other because it helps us build better user experiences. Only when you are honest and direct, can you uncover, confront and solve problems in a meaningful and useful way.

Quality over Quantity 

Renovation is a mini-marriage, and regardless of how talented a professional is, working with a bad client brings them down which in turn hurts the next client and so on. This is why we only allow only qualified owners to renovate with our professionals. 

Collective Over Network

Our professionals don't compete with one another for the same project. One owner, one architect, one contractor. This helps foster collaboration between our professionals and the sharing of otherwise proprietary knowledge and performance metrics which helps better our collective and deliver a richer user experience to owners. It also creates a "family within a family" as our pros gradually find the other Bolster Professionals they enjoy working with.

Questions over Answers - We embrace our ignorance and love asking interesting questions. There's a reason why everything begins with "why"

Listening over Talking - There's a reason we have two ears and only one mouth. We just like this.

Renovation is a Science - While science and art are more similar than different, treating the renovation process as a science gives hope to the idea there's an objectively better way to do it AND that it can be taught to owners in a timely manner

You Don't Get What You Don't Pay For - In renovation, the old proverb "you get what you pay for" doesn't hold true because you don't actually know what you're paying for and professionals are typically not held accountable (paying for quality does not ensure you receive quality). That's why we strive to reveal absolutely everything owners "should" be paying for so they know specifically what they're "not" paying for (e.g. if you're not paying for an estimate from a General Contractor, you cannot expect quality pricing information, hence why it makes sense to pay Bolster Contractors for a bid).

The Professional is Always Right - Renovation is a highly skilled technical profession. Like following your doctor's recommendation, trusting (but by all means verifying) your qualified professional is the smart move.

Architects and Contractors Belong Together - Architects and Contractors were once one thing: a Master Builder. Architects design better with the help of a Contractor, Contractors build better with the help of an architect. Simple. We also see huge value in Architects and General Contractors vetting and rating one another's work, after all who do you turn to when you want an opinion on a professional? Another professional of course.

People over Processes - We make a big deal of our process. But if something goes wrong, you'll be glad to know we personally vetted and trained only good, honest people. No jerks allowed. 

Full Stack Means They'll Come Back - You either take responsibility for the full renovation experience or you don't. If an owner has a bad experience with a professional, they'll blame the recommendation engine (e.g. AngiesList). However, if they do have a good experience they'll recommend the professional. It's a lose-lose and the reason we chose to take responsibility for the full experience from start to finish. 

Where There's Muck There's Brass - This is an old British saying that means where there are dirty jobs to be done there is money to be made. By focusing on actually solving the pain of the renovation process for everyone we will, someday, become a valuable company.

Share Our Passion? Get In Touch!

We believe there is a better way to renovate. One that sees homeowners get the project they expect at a fair price and where professionals win projects on their true value rather than on price alone. 

To make this happen we're dedicated to building the best product the renovation industry has ever seen. This in turn means building an amazing and diverse family of professionals, owners, and entrepreneurs that share our unique passion for truly transforming (and one day leading) the $100B major home renovation services industry.

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, get in touch.

Fraser Patterson, Founder & CEO

Contact me: fraser@bolster.us

Professionals: Start Your Application

Owners: Start Your Renovation