New Apps Let Homeowners Complete Projects Faster and Easier

Remodeling? First stop, smartphone

A newly remodeled home could be just a few swipes away. A wave of new mobile apps has made it easier than ever for homeowners to make improvements and updates.

Reuters looks at one such tool called Sweeten, a free app that helps users find professionals for home projects of all sizes—from updating a single room to planning an entire neighborhood. Instead of relying on word-of-mouth or online searches, homeowners get matched with contractors who are best suited to their needs. Users provide feedback on contractors’ performance.

Jean Brownhill Lauer, founder of New York-based Sweeten, told the publication that these apps remove a lot of guesswork from what can be an intimidating process. "Home renovation is a big-ticket item that can almost be the same price as purchasing a home," he said.

Other apps, such as LikeThat Décor, focus on furnishings and accessories. Instead of driving to multiple stores or hunting through websites, homeowners can simply scan an inspirational object or a pattern with their phones. Image recognition technology then searches millions of products from thousands of stores to locate similar items that would go well with the piece. Users can then click a link to buy.

Houzz is yet another free app that serves up decorating ideas based on more than 2 million user-submitted designs. The app also gives homeowners access to contractors in their area.

The market for this type of service continues to grow. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2013, Americans spent $130 billion on renovations and remodeling.