Investment property renovation spending has been on a long, steady rise. Those who own investment properties know that it’s hard to get through a renovation with both their sanity and bank account intact. Cincy startup Renozee has created a platform that could make a renovation project easier and more equitable from beginning to end.
We spoke with Cisol Hogan, Renozee founding partner and CEO, about the platform.
How did the idea come about?
Hogan: My wife and I bought our first rental property several years ago, and we had some difficulty in finding a contractor. We were using all of the resources out there to quickly get our property renovated, and it just wasn’t working. We wanted to solve this problem of being able to connect easily with available contractors. That’s how the initial concept came about.
How does the tech work?
Hogan: It used to be if you wanted to hire a contractor, you had to Google, reach out to family and friends, or use a lead provider platform. You had to make multiple phone calls and have contractors coming out to your property just so you could get an estimate.
With Renozee, you post a project and then contractors in the area will compete to win your business. They’ll bid directly in the platform. You’ll also receive ratings and reviews of those contractors. You never have to pick up the phone. You’ll get pricing estimates, be able to chat one-on-one with the contractor, and then hire one all inside of the platform.
How do contractors bid on a project without actually seeing it?
Hogan: When the property owners download the app, they will answer a few questions about the project. From there, they can post videos of what they’re trying to get done. Contractors will receive a notification and can then review the scope of work. From there, they will place a bid. After you receive the bid, you can ask questions like, How long will it take you to complete this job? What is the size of the contracting team that’s going to be working the job? How many hours a day do you plan to work on my job?
We get this granular because what if you wanted to hire a contractor thinking they are going to work your project full-time but they can only do it part-time because they have to head off to another job? We want full transparency upfront.
So the platform lets you compare pricing.
Hogan: The only way to know if you’re receiving fair pricing is to actually compare the pricing against other contractors. Currently, you have to do that by inviting multiple contractors to your property. That’s become more difficult with COVID. Now property owners can hire safely without having multiple contractors come out. Additionally, contractors don’t put themselves at risk by having to visit multiple job sites. Renozee will calculate the average bid price for you.
Is there a rating system for the contractors?
Hogan: Contractors import their reviews from Google and Yelp to start with, so you can see the top rated. Contractors are able to rate property owners as well. So if you’re a property owner that has a history of being difficult to work with or of paying contractors late after they successfully completed a project, then [other] contractors will be able to see that. We don’t just want to benefit the consumer side.
So there is transparency in the platform?
Hogan: Yes, and in the work as it happens. We have a way to set and track milestones. When a contractor submits a bid, it will include phases of the project. These milestones create a scope of work. It’s not an electronic contract, but you can see each milestone and check them off as you go along through the project. At every stage of the milestone, the contractor can upload pictures of the actual work that has been done. The information is private between homeowner and contractor.
You’ve launched the company in Cincinnati. What are the advantages of that?
Hogan: First of all, we’re from Cincinnati, and that’s where we wanted to stay. Cincinnati has a good location for home sales; there’s a lot of movement here. Houses sell really quickly. That means there are a lot of renovations and repairs going on. There has also been a lot of buzz around Renozee. It’s been growing mostly through word of mouth, and that has spread to Indiana and Kentucky. It’s been really exciting, and we plan on scaling throughout the region. It’s happening a lot quicker than we thought it would happen.