Remodeling is big business. According to the Home Improvement Research Institute, American homeowners are expected to spend nearly $285 billion on renovation projects of all kinds in 2013.
And now there's a new tool for homeowners who are dreaming of an updated kitchen, bathroom or other space. Real estate website Zillow has launched a new application for the iPad on its website called Zillow Digs.
"Tens of millions of home buyers shop for homes on Zillow each month, and home improvement is a natural next step for us in consumer empowerment and transparency of information to help people make smarter decisions," said Spencer Rascoff, Zillow's CEO.
Digs allows actual and potential homeowners to find inspiration for their next renovation project by browsing thousands of pictures. Some are comparing the app to Pinterest, which allows users to find ideas, share them and save them on special online boards. Users can also follow other Digs users with similar decorating tastes to find ideas.
According to The Washington Post, the app also allows homeowners to search for projects based on style (traditional, contemporary, transitional, etc.), cost (luxury or budget) and room (kitchen, bath, etc.). Users can also search for specific elements within a room, like radiant floor heating or granite countertops.
Currently, Digs is focusing on kitchen and bathroom projects. However, different spaces will be added in the future.
Find a contractor
The app also allows homeowners the ability to connect with various local professionals such as architects, contractors and designers. These business owners can use Digs to create custom profiles to advertise their firms to the public. These profiles contain pictures of recent work, contact information and even links to their website.
One of the most useful features of Digs is that it gives those considering a project a cost estimate based on where they live. After all, the same renovation will differ in price based on where it is done.
According to Forbes, Zillow's industry-leading team of economists and data analysts created a special algorithm to calculate the cost of different projects. This function is called Digs Estimates.
"We feed all of [the information] into an algorithm, and we tell it to re-create the costs locally," Zillow's chief marketing officer Amy Bohutinsky told The Chicago Tribune.
Whether you are planning a remodel in your existing home or are buying a home and want to make some changes in order to make it "perfect," experts say you're not alone. According to Zillow, a recent study found that more than 75 percent of homeowners who bought a home in the past year completed a home improvement project. Additionally, nearly 25 percent of recent homeowners remodeled a bathroom or kitchen in the past year.