HomeAdvisor: What To Know and How It Works

Male architect and tradesman discussing plan on laptop at construction site

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Finding a contractor or any type of professional who can help you with your house is tough. On top of it, you want a home professional who is competent, who prices the work fairly, and who you can call back for future work.

Obtaining word-of-mouth references from neighbors, family, and colleagues is always a great way to find a home improvement professional. But a contractor-matching service such as HomeAdvisor is also a solid way to connect you with an individual or company that will be perfect for your home project.

What Is HomeAdvisor?

HomeAdvisor is a contractor-matching service that connects homeowners with professionals who can help with home improvement projects such as carpentry, electrical work, foundation crack repair, vinyl siding installation, or plumbing repairs, as well as other general home-related projects like house cleaning, tree trimming, and lawn care.

HomeAdvisor has also emerged as a provider of content about home improvement, chiefly through its True Cost Guides. These guides provide real-world cost information for a wide range of home projects.

HomeAdvisor Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Allows you to solicit bids within minutes

  • Largest number of affiliated contractors than any other matching service

  • TrueCost Guides

  • Keep track of past jobs in your account profile

Cons
  • Call-backs from contractors can sometimes be spotty

  • Some important sub-categories of work are missing

  • Pre-screening is not a guarantee of quality

How Contractor Matching Services Work

Contractor-matching services link homeowners with service providers. They earn revenue from charging participating contractors fees for each qualified lead that they receive. If a contractor gets a good lead about a homeowner in the area who needs windows replaced, for example, the matching service earns a fee. Lead generation for a fee is a standard arrangement in the home improvement industry.

The lucrative nature of lead generation also helps explain why you may have solicited a quote for a project from a seemingly local company, yet ended up at the HomeAdvisor site. Sometimes, when you search for a repair service, you end up at a site for a company that appears to be locally branded—complete with your city's name, phone area code, and photo. While these may be local brick-and-mortar companies, they might also be web-only HomeAdvisor affiliates that earn a fee by referring you to HomeAdvisor (which, again, earns a fee from referring you to a service provider).

Tips For Using HomeAdvisor

  • When completing your service request, be as specific as possible with information about the job.
  • If you liked a previous service provider's work, you can order work again from the Your Projects menu.
  • When you are given a list of interested service providers, click on their name. Not only will you find out more about the company or individual, but sometimes a money-saving coupon can be found here.

TrueCost Guide: HomeAdvisor as a Content Provider

Most contractor-matching sites are simply a passthrough route to link homeowners with service professionals. But one important feature found on HomeAdvisor that encourages lingering is its TrueCost Guide, which spans hundreds of types of projects.

The TrueCost guide offered a new and highly accurate way for homeowners to calculate the costs of various home repairs and improvements. What's the cost to remodel a kitchen? If you use a tool such as Remodeling Magazine's well-known Cost vs. Value Report, you get solid numbers from over 150,000 industry respondents such as real estate appraisers, sales agents, and brokers.

HomeAdvisor's cost estimates are based on surveys from actual project costs as reported by HomeAdvisor members. In other words, as soon as the project is completed, the cost added to the Cost Guide. Not only that, but these are also actual project costs, not estimates.

With the Hanley Wood data used in Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report, you have to wait a whole year for new costs to be tabulated. Plus, the data comes from real estate professionals, not actual building trade professionals. As a result, HomeAdvisor's TrueCost Guide offers a real-time estimating tool that is always up-to-date, and always based on actual costs.

HomeAdvisor's History

Contractor matching services come and go all the time. But HomeAdvisor is the rare company that is still around over 21 years later.

HomeAdvisor began as ServiceMagic. At the time, Microsoft owned the HomeAdvisor.com domain name but kept it parked and inoperable. ServiceMagic acquired the new domain name.

Eventually, ServiceMagic began to experience issues on both sides of the homeowner/professional business structure. So, it was time to make some changes, and along with that, a name change.

In 2004, ServiceMagic was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp. Afterward, the company changed its name—domain and all—to HomeAdvisor. For a company that does all of its business online, a domain change is quite a dramatic step.

Speaking to The Spruce, Brooke Gabbert, the now-former Director of Public Relations and Social Media at HomeAdvisor, said that both "service" and "magic" no longer reflected the company's aims. It was implicit that ServiceMagic's professionals would provide "service," so there was no need to include this term. "Magic" was an entirely different matter.

Based on a year of market research, Gabbert said, the company concluded that homeowners did not want magic performed on their homes. Instead, they wanted solid, real work.

In 2017, HomeAdvisor merged with the well-known contractor referral site Angie's List. This merger resulted in the formation of ANGI Homeservices Inc.

Should You Use HomeAdvisor?

Often, the best way to hire a home services provider is through a recommendation from a close friend, relative, or neighbor who has had a positive experience. It's worthwhile to use several methods, though, and matching services are a valuable way to diversify this process.

For homeowners, the HomeAdvisor service is free. Even if you don't end up using HomeAdvisor, it offers a good deal of valuable information through its reviews of trade professionals and its TrueCost Guide.

Disclosure

IAC owns both ANGI Homeservices Inc., the owner of HomeAdvisor, and DotDash, the owner of The Spruce.