Used by 30+ million homeowners, HomeAdvisor can help you find and connect with home improvement professionals across dozens of categories; everything from appliances and siding, to carpentry and lawncare.
But HomeAdvisor understands that choosing a contractor is never an easy task, so they’ve implemented one of the industry's most comprehensive screening processes in order to help give you peace of mind. And when combined with more than 5 million submitted reviews on HomeAdvisor.com, they can help you find a professional you can trust.
On top of this, HomeAdvisor’s Resource Center features articles and advice, project guides, design and video galleries, and more, and their iDevice and Android apps make finding the right professional in the go a breeze.
Remember the old days of searching through the Yellow Pages, blindly calling around to find your next contractor? Modern technology sure has changed the process for the better, but does this mean that HomeAdvisor is your best choice? We’ll explore several different angles in this review, starting with HomeAdvisor’s features.
How Can HomeAdvisor Help You?
Overall, HomeAdvisor provides those looking for professional contractors with three core services.
This is the name for HomeAdvisor’s search engine, which “makes it easy to find local pros who specialize in exactly the type of work you need done.”
To do this, just type or select the service your need from the category list on HomeAdvisor.com’s home page (such as carpentry), choose the project type (e.g. cabinets and countertops), and indicate what you need done (installation, refacing, refinishing, etc.).
Next, you’ll enter your zip code and based on your choices, you may be asked for additional information (e.g. cabinet material, any problems you’re having, etc.).
Then, you’ll need to indicate if you’re actively hiring or just looking for quotes, approximately when you need the work completed, as well as a short description of the project. Finally, to see HomeAdvisor’s list of professionals, you’ll need to enter your name, address, and contact information.
After doing all of this, you’ll “receive information for up to four pre-screened, local home improvement pros” who are available right now and who will contact you to discuss your project.
Not quite ready to use ProFinder and hand over your information? If so, you can manually search HomeAdvisor’s database; just enter the type of service you’re interested in and your zip code.
From there, you’ll receive a list of professionals that match your criteria, which can be sorted by best match, ratings, those offering a deal, and more. On the list, you’ll see each business’s name, their rating and number of verified reviews, contact information, and brief details. If you click on the name, you’ll be able to view the business’s achievement, services, service areas, credentials, website, photos, customer ratings, and more.
HomeAdvisor True Cost Guides
By taking information from over 1 million home projects across the country (members shared who they hired, how long it took, and exactly how much it cost) and compiling it into one database, HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guides can provide local and national cost data for 500+ types of jobs—from routine maintenance to major remodels. In fact, the company calls it the nation’s largest database of real project cost information.
What for? This way, you’ll be able to find out what other people in your area paid for their projects, which can help give you an idea what you should pay for yours.
Given all these features, how much will you pay to use HomeAdvisor?
Is HomeAdvisor’s Guidance Expensive?
As a homeowner, HomeAdvisor’s basic services are completely free to use. The company also offers HomeAdvisor Premium, which assigns you a dedicated home expert who will manage all the details of your project. This includes finding a professional, fielding bids, negotiating price, scheduling appointments, and more. Unfortunately, no costs were listed at the time of our research.
On the other hand, if you’re a contractor, each lead you receive from HomeAdvisor can vary in cost, based on the type and the location of the request. However, we did find one Google Play review that mentioned each lead costs $30, although we weren’t able to verify the accuracy of this statement.
Considering the fact that it’s free (for the most part), what’s everyone saying about HomeAdvisor?
HomeAdvisor’s Client Feedback
Overall, it seems that HomeAdvisor comes with mostly positive online customer feedback.
Based on nearly 3,000 individual reviews, HomeAdvisor had an average rating of 4.7 stars on Consumer Affairs. Most seemed to appreciate the fact that it’s free (unlike some of the competition—more in a second), easy to use, and puts you in contact with quality professionals.
Although HomeAdvisor’s reviews weren’t nearly as positive on ComplaintsList.com (by its very nature), the company did try to reach out to some of those who complained in order to find a resolution. It’s also important to note that many of the complaints there referenced contractors hired through HomeAdvisor, and not the company itself.
HomeAdvisor’s mobile apps seem to fare equally well with customers. iTunes users gave it 4 stars based on 443 reviews, and nearly 900 Google Play reviewers gave it a similar 4.1-star rating. Most claimed it’s simple to use and that it gives you access to quality contractors (many claimed they found one within minutes).
From a company perspective, HomeAdvisor is based out of Lakewood, CO and has been in business since 1999. They had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, based on nearly 800 closed complaints (as of 3/15/16). These appeared to reference a wide range of concerns, from billing problems and poor quality work performed by professionals listed on the site.
Speaking of the company, exactly how does HomeAdvisor screen their contractors, and how much protection will they provide if something goes wrong?
How HomeAdvisor Protects Customers
What exactly does HomeAdvisor mean when claiming to utilize “one of the industry's most comprehensive screening processes”? According to their Terms & Conditions, their professional screening process involves verifying licensing and checking state business filings, criminal records, sex offender registrations, searching for civil judgments, and verifying their identity (social security number).
There’s are two important caveats, though:
First, after their original application, these professionals aren’t screened again, regardless of how long they’re listed on HomeAdvisor.com. What’s this mean? Outside of the negative feedback poor business practices like these would generate, if something occurs after the professional is accepted as a member (such as a civil judgment), it won’t be reflected on their profile.
Second, although the company seems to have a mostly positive online reputation, after HomeAdvisor connects you with a contractor, they basically wash their hands of the transaction. In other words, if something goes wrong in your project, it’s between you and the contractor. Should this situation occur, HomeAdvisor claims that they might offer dispute resolution services, although there’s zero obligation on their part.
Taking both of these into consideration, there’s been some criticism of HomeAdvisor in the past, based on loopholes that could allow unscrupulous contractors to sneak through the screening process:
“For example, one case in Austin involved a HomeAdvisor trusted contractor that left unfinished home improvement work after taking a deposit in 2014. It was later found the contractor had been sued 17 times since 2002. A company spokesperson said the website only screens for lawsuits from the day contractors sign up for its service. The screening only goes back one year for civil judgments and it never re-screens contractors again.”
So, should you use HomeAdvisor?
What’s the Advice for HomeAdvisor?
While there’s a ton of great information out there that can help you learn how to choose a contractor, the pickings are slim if you’re looking to locate one in the first place. In fact, the big (or only) three in this space are HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and Houzz.
Like any other business, each of these comes with their own unique specializations, as well as their own pros and cons. For example, Angie’s List seems to focus more on protecting clients with their Complaint Resolution Team, although you’ll have to pay a membership fee. Like HomeAdvisor, Houzz is completely free (and you can gather design ideas and purchase items, too), but they don’t seem to place a lot of emphasis (at least on their website) about the vetting process.
Which of these is right for you? Ultimately, that’s a decision only you can make. But when it comes to HomeAdvisor, it’s hard to beat free, so you might as well try signing up for an account, browsing contractors in your area, and using their ProFinder when you’re ready. Then, after you’re finished, be sure to come back here and tell us about your HomeAdvisor experience!