International renovation and design platform Houzz has just launched a New Zealand dedicated site and app to inspire home owners with creations by local trade people.
Country manager Jason Chuck describes the platform as an "end-to-end platform” from inspiration to education and execution including editorial content, advice forums and an online directory of professionals who can upload images of their work.
He says there are over 10 million images on Houzz worldwide, which home owners use to draw inspiration from and find professionals who suit the project. From a professional perspective it’s also “a great tool to collaborate with clients and it makes their work more efficient”.
As a result the international service directory hosts over 1 million processionals with 5,000 of those from New Zealand.
Home owners also have the chance to try out any of the listed furniture and products using the Sketch feature on the app available on iOS and Android. Chuck says it allows users to take a photo of their home and annotate it with marks and stickers as well as dragging in items to see how they will work in the space.
“You can see how that pendant light would work in your kitchen or how that sofa would work in your living room.”
Houzz was created in America in 2009, out of the struggle both home owners and the professionals found when completing a project. Chuck says home owners often rely on word-of-mouth to find a tradesperson and as a result struggle to find anyone who fits the budget, style and vision. For professionals, they found clients don’t have a clear idea of what they want and how much things cost.
Chuck says the online community Houzz has created allows home owners to connect with the professionals, to get an education and hear about what is possible before a project begins.
Each professional has a profile, to show off their personality and the type of work they do so users can be sure to pick someone suitable for the job.
“It really changed the way you chose your home professional. In the past people relied on getting three quotes from three different architects and that commoditises the work the work that they do. And the great thing about Houzz is you get a 360-degree view of the professional. You get to see their work, you read the reviews, you can see any editorial content they have contributed to and any advice they have given in the forums.”
The success of the idea has seen the platform expand internationally, first to the UK, Australia, France and Germany, with it now in 15 countries.
Before its expansion into New Zealand, Chuck says Houzz looked at the local demand and found there were already a couple hundred thousand New Zealanders visiting the site each month and over 4,000 trade professional who had organically joined the site to market themselves.
He says the design and creativity coming out of New Zealand was resonating with the global Houzz community, with many users saving images from New Zealand.
“The thing is, design is a global language and so people look for inspiration from around the world, but they are looking for local products and services who can make that come to life.”
The New Zealand site will feature a larger range of images from local professionals and product suppliers alongside dedicated New Zealand editorial content. Articles will be written by the professionals as well as a new Kiwi editorial team.
Chuck says the local professional directory includes trades across the board from architects to builders and landscapers. There is also a range of small one-man businesses to larger business like furniture companies and suppliers.