Porch Goes Beyond Data Services, Launches Tools To Connect Homeowners With Pros

Porch.com, the Seattle-based startup that aggregates home remodeling data, today announced its first mobile app — and with this, the launch of its first service offerings that directly connect home pros with homeowners. In addition, the company is also launching a beta of its booking service with pre-negotiated rates in the Seattle area today.

When it comes to finding the right people to work on your home, the problem isn’t just finding them, but also getting in touch with them. Half the time, you end up leaving a voicemail that may or not may result in a return call. Once you’ve passed that first hurdle, you have to negotiate the rates. With its new tools, Porch is trying to do away with all of this.

The new mobile app allows users to not just tap into the data on 121 million projects the company has amassed, but also to have either a Porch consultant help them find the right professional for their jobs or to dial a professional right from the app. The so-called “Concierge” service does exactly what the name implies. You call up Porch and a representative will work with you to understand what you’re looking for and then connect you to the right person.

“We are taking the next step forward where we can use this platform to make home ownership and improvements almost magical and really delightful,” Porch and CEO Matt Ehrlichman told me last week (taking a page out of the Steve Jobs thesaurus, it seems).

The “Pro Dial” service is for those who already know what they need, but the idea here is to avoid playing voicemail tag for a day or two. Instead, the service will automatically create a list of potential pros and then sequentially dial them until somebody picks up. Because all of this happens over VoIP, the app also automatically shows you more info about the professional while you are waiting (and the pro also gets more information about your project this way, too).

The app, of course, also lets you go the manual route and look up professionals the old-fashioned way — just like on Porch’s website.

The other major announcement today is the launch of Porch Booking in Seattle. With this, homeowners can get basic maintenance projects done with a few clicks. Porch has certified a number of professionals who have passed its background checks and are licensed, insured and bonded. Using Porch’s tools, homeowners can book them for pre-negotiated rates. Ehrlichman tells me those rates are competitive and the company takes a small fee from the pros whenever it brokers a deal. Just like Uber drivers, the pros are rated at the end of each job and have to remain above a certain rating to remain eligible for this program.

Porch Booking is now live in Seattle and as Ehrlichman tells me, the company plans to roll it out to additional cities in the coming months.