What Is BuildZoom?

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Published on: May 29, 2018

Whether you need a minor improvement, a mid-size remodel, or full-on construction project, BuildZoom claims to help more than 10 million people per year find the perfect residential or commercial contractor for any job.

Specifically, their mission is “to revolutionize the $1.3 trillion construction industry and empower people to realize their dream homes,” take the risk out of remodeling, and avoid project disasters, while also producing powerful, independent economic insights.

All you have to do is answer a few basic questions about your project on the website, and BuildZoom’s data-driven platform will match you with at least three professionals in your area, all of which are vetted based on contractor licenses, building permits, and customer reviews. Then, a BuildZoom project consultant will provide you with a list of bids and help guide you through the hiring process.

This is a compelling concept. But, is BuildZoom the best option for you? Over the course of the next few minutes, we'll walk you through important details step-by-step so that you can make a more informed decision.

How Does BuildZoom Work?

BuildZoom is straightforward when advertising that their data is their edge. Specifically, their set was generated after gathering and organizing “data from a variety of sources, including contractor licensing agencies, local building departments, and consumers,” along with 125 million building permits and 6.9 million license records.

They then use it to create comprehensive profiles for each contractor. In fact, they claim there’s a BuildZoom profile for every single licensed contractor in the United States.

Combined with “project photos, government sanction records, and detailed profile information provided by the contractors themselves," the result is what BuildZoom calls "the world's best source of information about contractors,” which generates 800,000 unique visitors per month.

Based on these details, if you’re looking for specific types of real estate data, BuildZoom might represent a treasure trove. Considering the scope of this information, though, let’s split their services into three distinct categories:

BuildZoom’s Find-a-Contractor Service

After entering a description of what you need (e.g., kitchen remodel, siding, roofing, etc.) and your zip code, and clicking the Get Started button on BuildZoom’s home page, their site will ask additional relevant questions and details like:

  • When do you want to start? Flexible, ASAP, Within a few weeks, Within a few months
  • What type of property is this? Single family, Condo/apartment, Office/commercial, Other
  • Email address
  • Best number to reach you at
  • Name
  • How many bids do you want from contractors? 3, 4, or 5
  • What is your relationship to the property? Own or help manage, Rent, Considering buying it (working with a real estate agent?)
  • Select budget

BuildZoom’s system will automatically generate a project page based on your answers, at which point they’ll connect you with contractors and provide the opportunity for you to communicate with them directly.

In the meantime, they’ll also list some of the top-rated contractors in your area. If you like what you see, you can also invite these third-party contractors to bid.

Scrolling down, this page will also display any of your open projects, as well as provide access to messages, reviews, related properties, and work agreements (when relevant). Additional details include “work history, previous project photographs, and reviews of the contractors who are interested in your job.” You can close any of your projects at any time without further commitment.

Keep in mind that while all of this is free without signing up, you’ll be prompted to create an account when you submit a project, which allows BuildZoom to assign a dedicated Project Consultant to help you “connect with reliable contractors in your area.”

They’ll contact you to gather information about your project, help you hand select reliable and qualified contractors for each specific job, walk you through each step of the process, and make sure you‘re happy with results.

In fact, the website reports your Consultant “will stay as involved as you would like during your search and will also check in on the status of your project and be sure all your needs are met.”

BuildZoom’s Permit Map

Another primary feature made available by this dataset is BuildZoom’s Building Permit Map. Here, you can search permit activity for a city or a specific address, and then sort results by project (architecture, electrical, HVAC, etc.), budget, and year completed.

The site’s map view will signify each property with relevant activity by a blue dot, which is also accompanied by an image and address on the right-hand side of the screen.

Clicking on any listing will take you to a page with the property’s full permit history, including highest rated contractors who’ve worked at the address, along with their BZ score, the number of projects they’ve completed, and their average project cost.

Related to the specific property, you’ll see the permit date, type, and contractor, as well as details like permit subtype, license number, permit number and fee, status, and client. You can even message contractor directly through BuildZoom’s system.

Together, BuildZoom advertises their Map provides access to information on over 80 million permitted improvements in the US.

Outside of finding a reputable contractor who has experience with your property (or the neighborhood, at least), what can you do with all of this data? A few recommendations listed on the BuildZoom website include:

  • Filter by project type, which allows you to see who’s gone solar in your area
  • Browse the most expensive projects in your neighborhood (even if you’re just window shopping)
  • Realtors can use the data to obtain details on a property they might not find elsewhere
  • Insurance assessors can use it to increase the accuracy of their plans
  • Real estate investors can better assess the value and carrying costs related to a property

BuildZoom for Contractors

Based on the information entered by prospective customers, BuildZoom will send paid members “high quality and actionable projects” from “millions of homeowners in every city who need help with their projects.”

As soon as the project is received, the company recommends contractors call the homeowner or send a message immediately, followed by their best bid if they think the project is a good fit. Ideally, this should occur in person, which gives contractors the opportunity to explain documents directly to the homeowner.

Together, BuildZoom promises to make help hiring the best contractors faster, safer, and easier, while eliminating the risk, since the accountability they provide “gives contractors a strong incentive to do their best work. Contractors know that if they don't do a great job for you, they will no longer receive business from BuildZoom.”

How Much Does BuildZoom Cost?

Creating a project and locating local, reputable contractors is free for BuildZoom customers, as is access to their Building Permit Map.

If you’d like to download the information, one property report is priced at $29.99, while Premium access to all property records requires a customized quote from a company representative. As explained on the website, this allows you to:

“Drill down to see any property’s full report, which includes a top-line summary of the property’s remodeling history as well as details on every documented project that has been completed, in addition to the contractor responsible for the work.”

Project referrals are also free, although contractors will pay a 2.5% commission/referral fee based on the project’s value once they get hired. BuildZoom indicates that the more contractors are hired through their site, they more projects they can refer.

There are no minimums, monthly fees, or hidden costs. The only agreement contractors make is to pay the 2.5% referral fee follow hiring confirmation.

If you have additional questions regarding pricing, BuildZoom staff can be reached at support@buildzoom.com.

What Can We Learn from BuildZoom Reviews?

Although San Francisco, CA-based BuildZoom has been in business since 2013 and has raised a total of $14.7 million in funding, we encountered relatively limited online feedback for the company at the time of our research.

In fact, other than a handful of comments on online forums, the only feedback we encountered was on the Better Business Bureau’s website, where BuildZoom held an A+ rating. This was based on 11 total customer reviews (eight of which were negative) and more than 20 closed complaints, as of 5/22/18.

When details were available, most of these appeared to revolve around information/privacy concerns, and a company representative responded in each instance with a solution.

BuildZoom was co-founded by CEO David Petersen and Jiyan Wei. Previously, David worked as co-founder of Flexport and ImportGenius.com, while Jiyan worked as Head of Product Management for Vocus, Inc. and v-Fluence.

Are There Other Data-Centric Contractor Websites Like BuildZoom?

Between heavy-hitters like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, it might seem like the online ‘find-a-contractor’ niche is fairly saturated.

However, while others certainly listed contractors based on customer ratings and number of jobs completed, neither of these options (nor any other potential competitors we encountered during our research) provided an environment built on similar data as BuildZoom. In other words, you won’t find these tools, based on the same data, anywhere else.

Here's the critical question, though: It's no secret that data accumulation and aggregation are the keys for companies to make money in the online era. But, as a consumer, will BuildZoom’s dataset necessarily help you find a better, more reliable contractor?

Let’s carry this question over to the final section as we help you come to a conclusion.

Our Final Thoughts About BuildZoom

Unless it’s an absolute emergency, it's vital that consumers take their time and create a list of contractors they’re considering for a project, followed by an in-depth investigation of each one’s online presence, existing customer feedback, and what any relevant state websites (such as the Labor & Industry website in Washington State) have to say.

And based on their extensive, proprietary dataset, it certainly seems like BuildZoom might help streamline this process, save consumers time, and help them locate reputable contractors who will deliver on their expectations.

On top of this, their service is completely free for consumers, and the company seems to have an almost wholly positive—if not fairly limited—online reputation, so you might not have much more to lose than a few moments of time for giving the site a try.

» For Further Reading: Finding a Home Contractor: A Guide to the Five Best Websites

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10 Consumer Reviews for BuildZoom

Average Consumer Rating: 3.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 1 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  4
Bottom Line: 60% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-10 of 10
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  • Experience with BuildZoom

    I used BuildZoom on a few occasions when looking for contractors. One of these occasions resulted in hiring a contractor, but on others I found a contractor elsewhere. In all cases, BuildZoom allowed me to get in touch with contractors that I would otherwise have no link to. I was also assured by the background checks, available information, and a trusted authority to moderate my interaction with contractors. Importantly, it is very easy to start and get in touch with contractors. Because of this, I always get a bid from some contractors on BuildZoom when working on a home project. It never hurts to hear multiple opinions and get multiple bids.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Helpful!

    • Davis, CA,
    • Nov 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I submitted my project through BuildZoom and they were really helpful in getting me qualified contractors. We changed our scope of work (from a balcony to a deck) and they helped find us better suited contractors. Customer service was great! Plus the contractor they recommended, Sapphire Decks, was very good.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Outstanding service

    • San Francisco,
    • Nov 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The team at BuildZoom was extremely helpful in helping me find the right contractors for my kitchen, then helping me negotiate the contract. My original quote (before I found the site) was $122,000 and BuildZoom contractors came in between $100-130k. After all was said and done, I paid $95k and am very happy with the final result. I have recommended them to several friends.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Cox Construction

    • Ocean Springs, MS,
    • Oct 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    They came out and replaced the plywood and shingles and rebuilt a sunroom that was destroyed by a bad contractor and then flooded. They were awesome and professional; they treated me with kindness and respect. If you need the work done fast and right, Cox Construction is the one.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Awful company, most likely a scam

    • New Jersey,
    • Sep 24, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I'm seeing this on both sides. One as a contractor who wasted his time chasing leads where homeowners were not even sure who BuildZoom was. More than 70% had already contracted someone else before I received the lead. Total waste of time. Clients I was able to speak to said that BuildZoom called them repeatedly when they had requested a contractor from another website. Not BuildZoom. They are extremely disorganized. I would receive texts with phone numbers to call them back, and it always went to an answering machine. I would not waste my time with this company.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 15, 2018

      Jiyan W.,

      Can you please respond directly to me and I can look into the situation. People will often request options from other sites and use BuildZoom as one option.

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  • 1 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Ram 24 Construction kitchen countertop remodel

    • Albuquerque, NM,
    • Sep 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Ram 24 Construction - I used this company for a remodel to my kitchen and was very pleased! I had waited many years to put granite in my kitchen because I was worried my backsplash, which is travertine, would be ruined while removing my current countertop. I was also having a hard time making a final decision on the color of granite. Ram 24 made the process so easy; they walked me through the process in helping me with the color choice, which I am thrilled with, and removed my old countertops and saved my backsplash! They have a very personal touch in a very professional manner, which was wonderful and so reassuring. I love my kitchen and was thrilled with the workmanship and speed at getting it done!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Not on customer side (scam)

    • Florida,
    • Sep 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The company that I hired through BuildZoom ended up being extremely incompetent. The company asked me to pull permits on my name because it was supposed to be faster this way. The contractor did everything in its power to be fired. All this guy wanted was to get the first chunk of money.

    BuildZoom would not publish my review of the company. Try to call the customer service, and you won't get an answer.

    Whatever you do don't hire The Pine River Company (Rick Munne) and don't use BuildZoom as your contractor search platform!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Not trustworthy, do not use

    • New York,
    • Aug 28, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Through this site, I hired a horrible contractor who scammed money from me and abandoned my home-addition project midway. In the high summer season, when every competent contractor is busy in town, and no one can help me to finish my project at the moment. We may have to wait till October to continue. My husband and I paid the contractor six-figures, and he still demanded more payment, while he did not finish what he promised, he did poor quality work on top of all this. He was not even licensed to do construction work in my county; he had to use another contractor's license to cover him. Criminals!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Nov 15, 2018

      Jiyan W.,

      Hello, can you please message me directly to let me know some details of the project, so we can explore it in more depth, please?

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Attic and crawl space job

    • Washington,
    • Jul 26, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We had a Safe Home Resource vacuum and replaced the insulation from our attic and crawl space due to mice damage. The crew was professional and detailed I got four bids, and theirs was the best. Tyler and his crew of guys (and gals) are amazing, keep up the good work.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • Brooklyn, NY,
    • Jul 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not trust this company. They wrote to me in a private email to ask about my experience with my architect. Then they posted my words on their website with my name attached to it without my permission. They gave a star rating to my architect without me doing it, so they basically invented me as a user and invented my rating. I feel like they stole my identity to build content for their site and it’s ridiculous. You cannot trust anything on the site.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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