Directorii vs. Angi vs. HomeAdvisor and 5 Other Primary Platforms Homeowners Love Using to Find Contractors
By Space Coast Daily // March 25, 2022
As a homeowner looking for a good contractor, you are probably a member of a growing community accessing skills and expertise through contractor platforms, often referred to as marketplaces. The latter’s primary objective is to represent competitive entities with the experience, verified credentials, and responsiveness that meet residential occupants’ most urgent needs.
The companies under focus have emerged as drivers in the industry because they, in many ways, address the arena’s most crucial pain points, namely:
■ Disappointing past contractor experiences.
■ Ranging from shameless rip-offs to shoddy work.
■ Jobs unfinished or drifting off schedule.
■ Meaningless warranties.
■ Faulty licensing and guarantees
This article will get into the specific benefits you can expect from each marketplace, their specialties, and any drawbacks you should be aware of. Then, use it as a guide the next time something breaks down in your home or an emergency occurs that demands an urgent response.
IAC owns Homeadvisor in conjunction with the next platform on our list, Angi., creating a dual resource pool that’s unmatchable in terms of sheer size and reach. As a result, today, HomeAdvisor (with Angi) stands as the world’s most significant force versus all other online home improvement marketplaces. Indeed, IAC represents ten brands built around the Angi/HomeAdvisor operating model in eight countries. However, size hasn’t always got everything consumers are looking for. Indeed, sometimes it creates stumbling blocks that allow smaller, more agile competitors to take advantage.
If you channel inquiries through HomeAdvisor, you’ll instantly notice a flood of contractor responses. There’s no charge to homeowners, and all the company’s revenues arise from contractor annual member fees plus paying on a per lead basis. Contractors complain about the “dog-eat-dog” pressure as leads stream through, but homeowners generally enjoy the experience.
Pros you can expect when HomeAdvisor contractors contact you:
■ They come with a clean sheet on any criminal activity.
■ Their financial background checks out fine as well.
■ As stated above, there’s no charge for the opportunity to hire contractors.
■ HomeAdvisor has checked most of the due diligence boxes, saving you the bother.
■ Online appointments are seamless without talking directly to the contractor.
■ This entity is robust across various verticals, including roofers and gutter contractors.
■ Arguably HomeAdvisor’s most convincing benefit is its “Happiness Guarantee.” It promises to cover anyone booking and paying for services for the entire purchase value and limited damage as follows:
■ Up to $10,000 for pre-priced services.
■ Maximum $50,000 for all other qualifying services.
■ In both the above, it’s crucial to preview the company’s terms and conditions.
Cons in working with HomeAdvisor:
■ When you sign up, HomeAdvisor effectively sells your information to numerous contractors on their books within a few minutes.
■ You may agree with others looking for repair services that they get inundated by too many contractors (frequently twenty or more) bombarding them with emails, texts, and direct calls. It creates confusion and takes time to field all the interviews.
■ Amongst the many connections following your inquiry, you’ll find a few are not local.
■ The pre-screening process has holes in it. For example, homeowner reviews suffer from cherry-picking and don’t always give the broad overview you’re looking for. However, the happiness guarantee cited above largely offsets this.
2. Angi (Formerly Angie’s List)
As mentioned above, alongside HomeAdvisor, Angi is also a subsidiary of IAC. It’s the longest-standing marketplace of all the companies in this comparative analysis. The two entities operate side-by-side, competing with one another, but rely on similar business models.
Pros you can expect when Angi contractors contact you:
■ Angi conducts similar background checks as described for HomeAdvisor above.
■ There’s no sign-up fee. Homeowners access Angi’s contractor resources for free.
■ When a contractor lead arrives for your attention, rest assured that Angi has checked most of the due diligence boxes.
■ The exact online sign-up and appointment conveniences under HomeAdvisor are also available here.
■ Angi’s “Happiness Guarantee” parallels HomeAdvisor’s promises to cover anyone booking and paying for services for the entire purchase value and limited damage as follows (to reiterate HomeAdvisor’s terms):
■ Up to $10,000 for pre-priced services
■ Up to $50,000 for all other qualifying services.
■ One significant benefit is that many of Angi’s contractors have aligned with them for over a decade, thus injecting genuine substance into their reviews.
Angi’s primary contractor categories are:
■ Roofing repairs
■ Gutter cleaning
■ Lawn Care
Cons in working with Angi:
■ Same as HomeAdvisor, Angi sells your information to contractors.
■ As a result, expect a stream of contractor connections instantly through your mobile and email.
■ Dealing with contractor leads coming at you from all directions, often for days, can be tedious and time-consuming.
■ There’s substantial confusion within the leftovers of Angie’s List’s Silver and Gold memberships.
■ These go against the mainstream “for free” theme to homeowners.
■ Consumers entering these memberships for fees are eligible for discounted services, but it remains a gray area.
■ At one time, only these members qualified for what was equivalent to the Happiness Guarantee, but the latter is now open to all-comers.
Comment: When we boil it down to only Angi vs. HomeAdvisor, the latter seems to have the edge currently, but that can change fast. Many consumers using Angi for years remain brand loyal no matter what. Speaking generally, the IAC group is the elephant in the room, setting the standard for emerging competitors. However, although a formidable force in sheer size, it can’t cover every nook and cranny in the market. As a result, it creates an opportunity for new and more agile competitors in specific segments. We’ll highlight some of these below.
Directorii doesn’t have the world reach or category coverage of Angi and HomeAdvisor. However, its brand has a rock-solid reputation in the roofing and gutter contractor categories, offering access to homeowners online in the USA and Canada. This is because its founder, Dmitry Lipinskiy, started his career as a roofing contractor and knows the industry inside out. Indeed, through one of his other companies, Dmitry conducts education programs to help new contractors get market traction.
Pros you can expect when Directorii contractors contact you:
■ If roofing repair, replacement, or repair is your problem, Directorii provides numerous focused verticals in this contractor space. The latter includes (to mention a few of many):
■ Their contractors are also highly competent in windows, HVAC, and all aspects of gutter installation.
■ All their referrals are certified, background checked, and evaluated by one of the Directorii team.
■ The Directorii backup guarantee of up to $20,000 protects you for sub-par work by any of their contractors.
■ Online support and advice in the roofing arena are removing much of the mystery that surrounds hiring in this arena.
■ There’s no sign-up fee for homeowners.
■ You’re not likely to be blasted with interviews at the same level as Angie or HomeAdvisor but receive enough credible ones to create a good selection.
Cons in working with Directorii:
■ For homeowners who prefer the Home Advisor avalanche of interviews, that won’t happen here. However, we’ve pointed out above that many don’t necessarily see it as a disadvantage.
■ Verticals outside of those mentioned above are unavailable on this platform. It may change in the future that remodeling, lawn services, plumbing, and other popular categories available under Angi and HomeAdvisor slot into the Directorii formula, but not right now.
Comment: Directorii functions under a relatively narrow contracting theme, but a significant one. Consider them seriously for roofing and gutter contracting services as a mainstream focus. Also, try them for windows and HVAC contractors, which seem to be gaining traction.
Thumbtack operates on a completely different model to the three marketplaces covered so far:
1. Contractors register their profiles on the Thumbtack site (i.e., on a pay for leads basis).
2. The site allows homeowners to define their projects, which they send to the most suitable contractors on their books. They also attach a bidding price tag for the job.
3. Thumbtack debits the contractor’s lead balance when two events occur:
4. The contractor bids for the job.
5. And the customer responds to the inquiry.
6. In other words, it generates leads (successful or not) similar to a Google click-through.
Pros you can expect when Thumbtack contractors contact you:
■ There’s no charge for you as a homeowner.
The range of services is broad, including scores of diverse categories like:
■ House Cleaning
■ Interior painting
■ Local moving
■ Outdoor upkeep
■ Personal trainers
■ Wedding officiants
■ While Directorii (of all the analyzed platforms) has a narrow, laser-focused activity profile, Thumbtack is the opposite – a “Jack of all trades.”
Cons in working with Thumbtack:
■ The biggest pitfall in using Thumbtack is that there are no background checks.
■ Also, there are no insurances or guarantees to remedy shoddy work.
■ Therefore, it compels customers to scan reviews and do their own due diligence. The problem is that unwary homeowners hire unlicensed workers assuming they’re Thumbtack vetted. As a result:
■ Faulty work is a common occurrence with no recourse to Thumbtack.
■ Erasure of contractor accounts on the platform only happens when dissatisfied customers report irregularities.
Comment: You risk hiring with Thumbtack unless you’re ready to do the rigorous credit checks and background scrutiny that the other three above exercise. If things go wrong, there’s genuinely no recourse. Notwithstanding, there are competent and compliant artisan accessible through Thumbtack as long as you take the time to weed them out.
Bark, launched in 2014, began business as a platform for web services but has since expanded out. Today it offers home improvement options to local markets and more. The way it works is similar to Thumbtack, but see some differences below:
1. Homeowners can list their job for free.
2. Member contractors review jobs and select the ones they want to bid for.
3. Before a contractor can contact a listed homeowner for the job as defined, they must use credits (prepaid) to receive notification of the customer’s phone number and email.
4. At the time of this article, one credit = $1.65. The number of credits varies according to a Bark.com algorithm that estimates the project value (averaging around 20 credits per job).
Pros you can expect when Bark contractors contact you:
■ Services are free to homeowners.
■ Options cover numerous categories similar to Thumbtack (see above). Bark’s strongest suits are digital home configurations, finding handypersons, weddings, and entertainers.
■ As a company with its roots in web services, the app, unsurprisingly, is seamless and user-friendly.
■ Bark will contact providers not yet in their network if their team detects inadequate resources.
Cons in working with Bark:
■ Like Thumbtack, there are no background checks and zero Bark guarantees available. It means that:
■ Although many competent contractors connect with you, due diligence and compliance overview rest on your shoulders.
■ Considering the thin verification protocols behind those contacting you, using this company for high-cost projects is risky.
■ While strong on services outlined under Pros above, Bark is weak on Directorii or HomeAdvisor specialist home renovation verticals like:
■ Roofing repairs and replacements.
■ Gutter contractors.
■ The wide variance of services outside home improvement casts doubt on Bark’s ability to deliver top-class results for homeowners’ construction-type needs.
Comment: To avoid taking excessive risk, use Bark for jobs where compliance isn’t a consideration or weighted lightly. The marketplace is most at home with digital services and non-construction activities like finding a magician for kids’ parties or a handyperson for minor repairs. Anything involving genuine home renovation capabilities and licensing isn’t a Bark forte. For example, the best roofing contractors are unlikely to rely on this platform for lead generation.
1. Like all those covered, homeowners can list their job for free.
2. Member contractors scan the jobs at their convenience, reviewing critical aspects like budgets and timelines.
3. Once they select the projects they like, like Bark, they pay to contact the lead.
4. One of the significant features on the Porch site are:
5. Numerous home improvement images.
6. Aligned with innovative concepts to better visualize the type of job the contractor is considering.
Pros you can expect when Porch contractors contact you:
■ Porch has established strategic partnerships with entities such as Lowes and the BBB to fortify its offerings and customer peace of mind.
■ Notably, when looking for a home improvement contractor, Lowe’s stores promote Porch’s resources.
■ The marketplace is free for homeowners to use.
■ A meaningful advantage is that Porch applies background checks in most local areas.
■ Capable professionals in the middle ground between “handyman” and “large construction” gravitate to Porch. Thus, it works great for small and medium-sized jobs.
Cons in working with Porch:
■ Although background checks are in the equation, double-check that it covers your region. It’s not a given for all areas.
■ Some homeowners assume that a contractor overview includes Porch guaranteeing results and remedying defects. It’s not the case. Indeed, the BBB fall-back is one’s best resort in the case of shoddy work.
Comment: Porch is undoubtedly a level above Bark and Thumbtack but lacks the service guarantees provided by Angie, HomeAdvisor, and Directorii. Its BBB connection should give users reasonable comfort that referrals have due diligence backup. Moreover, the Lowes partnership emphasizes Porch’s focus on home improvement. The drawbacks are:
1. Excluding specific areas on background checks
2. The non-existence of work standard guarantees.
Still, it has some significant merits worth a good look for any local project that involves roofing or other renovations.
Houzz shifts into a community network model (a la Facebook), allowing contractors to create business profiles, and promote themselves with reviews and testimonials. It accommodates homeowners who like to browse contractor options like looking through a digital catalog. Creatively, Houzz has a leg-up, in-built capacity to express new concepts with idea boards similar to Pinterest. It encourages the project initiator to invite contractors to develop a renovation plan with stunning visualization.
The model is different from anything else above because Houzz earns its revenue through advertising – not memberships or subscriptions. As a result, the platform doesn’t sell leads to homeowners – a formula ingrained in other prominent marketplaces. Instead, they rely on contractors to advertise on their site as the best way to stand out in a local area.
Houzz has carved a niche for itself in the home improvement arena because homeowners everywhere considering a renovation will likely visit the company’s site.
Pros you can expect when Houzz contractors contact you:
■ You don’t pay Houzz anything to:
■ Connect to contractors advertising on their site.
■ Browse their files.
■ Houzz’s database and image library are second to none.
■ Buying home products directly from the site is seamless, modern, and ahead of the curve.
■ Contractor profiles are generally comprehensive, with all the details one needs at your fingertips. Images talk louder than a thousand words (i.e., see the description of idea boards above).
Cons in working with Houzz:
■ Houzz doesn’t guarantee contractors’ work quality or background details.
■ Many complain that the Houzz return system is not customer friendly.
■ Posting reviews according to Houzz rules is a challenge because negative reviews are not readily accepted.
■ Consequently, one wonders about the integrity of reviews on Houzz.
Comment: A massive black mark against Houzz is its return policy, resulting in substantial customer frustration and negative opinions. While this part of their business isn’t necessarily contractor-centric, it does impact the company’s integrity with a domino effect. That aside, homeowners must still research contractors they hire without marketplace background checks and guarantees.
With 147 million visitors, Yelp is a marketplace to be reckoned with. By demonstrating a relatively open policy of accepting negative with positive reviews, browsers are more likely to trust Yelp. In addition, good images and explanatory text make it an excellent attraction for homeowners looking for repair or renovation help.
Contractors enter Yelp with advertising spend in mind to attract attention, and the more they invest, the more prominently they appear. The model is close to Houzz, as the marketplace doesn’t vest in the reputations of their advertisers. Indeed, it leaves that burden to the hirers of services discovered on the site.
Pros you can expect when Yelp contractors contact you:
■ Homeowners are free to navigate and contact advertisers on Yelp.
■ Engaging content with explanatory text and good images cut to the chase.
■ Reviews are likely to be more objective without filtering the good from the bad.
■ The sheer volume of reviews leads to a more educated decision.
■ Particularly strong on small renovations and repairs.
Cons in working with Yelp:
■ Again, no background checks or standing behind advertisers’ work.
■ Closely competing with Houzz, Yelp is:
■ A marketplace with a similar model (see above).
■ In a close race, Houzz is probably a nose ahead in home improvements.
■ Homeowners must implement due diligence to verify contractor credentials.
■ Not suitable for larger commercial projects.
■ Most reputable contractors don’t see Yelp as their #1 choice to generate leads.
Comments: Yelp’s general coverage tends to push home improvement into the background, although it has a presence. It isn’t a compelling option to find first-class contractors in a competitive environment. Instead, it leaves homeowners to do too much legwork drilling down to the cream of the crop.
In almost all marketplaces evaluated above, the homeowners win versus contractors. However, the one that stands out somewhat differently is Directorii:
■ It’s not that they value homeowners less than their competitors; they tend to care also about their contractors’ interests.
■ It probably goes back to the founder being a roofer at heart and is also on the side of educating artisans to be more professional.
■ Conversely, Angi and HomeAdvisor have no problem crowding the supply side of the equation, making it uncomfortably pressurized for their contractors. In Contrast, Directoriii strives to weigh the scales more evenly.
A big plus on the side of Angi, HomeAdvisor, and Directorii – and to a lesser extent Porch – are their background check protocols. Their guarantees (exclude Porch here) are even more compelling to address sub-par services and remedy defects. These are backdrops that put any would-be leadership threat on the back foot. Even BBB support (i.e., Porch being the only one to offer this) can’t match that level of assurance and customer peace of mind.
On the other hand, Yelp and Houzz don’t sell information to contractors like the others. Instead, they position themselves explicitly as advertising platforms and leave it to the homeowner to do the rest. As a result, Houzz has emerged with a robust home improvement brand identity and a significant following.
All the sites covered offer free access to customers, relying on the businesses (contractors) to pay for leads. Revenues emerge from membership subscriptions and, in some instances, pay per customer response (Thumbtack), per inquiry (Bark), or per view (Houzz). In all cases, contractors are the platforms’ meal tickets.
Another thing that emerges is that some sites (Bark and Thumbtack) throw everything and “the kitchen sink” into their services mix. That’s great for the more remote services like DJs, masseurs, and wedding caterers. However, the more fundamental home improvement activities, like roofing replacements, gutter repair, and significant home renovations, skew toward the customer backup sites (i.e., Directorii, Angi, and Home Advisor). Customers want security in their big-dollar decision-making, and the latter sites give it to them.
Another item that stands out is objectivity and balanced reviews. Again, Yelp comes out tops here, the opposite to Houzz (i.e., a company that refuses to post severely negative testimonials).
We suggest keeping an eye on the internet and monitoring all the platforms to see their strategy changes as time goes on. In our view, the following, in ascending order, establishes the thoroughness, integrity, and effectiveness of the entities in this industry:
1. Guarantees to address shoddy quality (Angi, HomeAdvisor, Directorii.)
2. Background checks (Angi, HomeAdvisor, Directoriimi, Porch.)
3. Objective reviews (Yelp.)
4. Specialized focus (Directoii.)
5. Easy and seamless app usage (Bark.)
6. Customer/Contractor balance (Directorii.)
7. Wide range of services (Bark and Thumbtack.)
We hope that this article will assist you in your future contractor decision.