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What Homeowners Want From Design and Building Pros Now

Learn what’s important to clients when they’re choosing and working with pros, along with doable action items to help your business succeed

Houzz Pro

If only you could read homeowners’ minds during the hiring, planning and carrying-out phases of a design or building project. You could easily gain clients’ trust, wow them on projects, and get great reviews, referrals and repeat business — all factors that contribute to building a successful business in any economy. To help you better understand homeowners expectations, we went right to the source by surveying homeowners directly as part of our kitchen and bathroom trends studies. In 2022, we surveyed 6,087 U.S. homeowners on Houzz about their kitchen and bathroom renovation projects, asking things like the most important factors in their hiring decisions, challenges they have during projects and areas where pros can improve. Have a look at what they want below, along with actionable tips that can help you and your business.

Provide Schedule Updates 

The No. 1 element that homeowners say could be improved is getting better information on schedule changes, including getting more timely updates, and knowing when subs will be on-site or if something has changed that would impact schedule. And while you can’t control every single element of a project — subs do get sick, weather can be unpredictable, and equipment can break down — you can set up a system to help you keep on top of the schedule and let clients know right away if it does get off track.

Action items:

1. Adopt software that lets you easily keep track of timing. Houzz Pro offers a visual timeline and scheduling tool that makes it easy to collaborate and communicate about the schedule with both your team members and the client.  

2. If the schedule changes, let everyone involved know right away. Which brings us to…

Communicate Clearly and in a Timely Manner 

Remodeling is stressful for homeowners whether they’re first timers or seasoned veterans. What, specifically, do they find hardest to handle? About a quarter of respondents cite getting timely and accurate communications from professionals in both the planning (27%) and execution (23%) phases. In fact, getting clear communication is ranked as No. 2 aspect of working with a pro that homeowners say could have improved their experience during a project.

They express particular frustration that some pros don’t answer the phone or respond to inquiries, miss scheduled meetings without an explanation, are unprofessional, or fail to let them know when the schedule or other aspect of the project has changed. Being busier than ever these days is no excuse in a homeowners’ eyes for poor communication!

Action items:

1. Have a solid system for responding in a timely manner from start to finish.

2. Always be polite and professional in your communications — whether in person, over the phone, through the mobile app, or by email or by text.

Offer Financial Visibility  

Costly surprises are on nobody’s wish list. But even if a project stays on budget, homeowners still want to know the details of where their money is going. And this applies both to the initial proposal and everything that occurs during the project work. In fact, 12% say they felt the estimate or proposal they received lacked financial transparency during the initial planning process, and 14% found tracking the budget, expenditures and changes over time to be challenging during the project’s execution. Overall, better visibility into costs is No. 3 on the list of what would have improved their experience. 

Pain points cited by homeowners include surprises that led to big budget increases, a lack of detail on proposals and estimates, and not knowing what payments have been made, and when the next payment is due. 

Action items:

1. Share all client-facing financials in a client dashboard where they can see what they approved, what they’ve paid and what they’re owed. With Houzz Pro, sent estimates, proposals, invoices and more are automatically included.

2. Communicate about any potential supply chain issues or inflation costs increases right away, to avoid surprises down the road. And do not hesitate to offer a phone call or a meeting to go over financial details if homeowners find them too difficult to understand.

Help Them Visualize the End Result

Clients always come with high expectations, but how you address them can make the difference. Three of our findings are tied together in this area: 10% of respondents say they had difficulty visualizing the project’s outcome before the work began, and “details of the outcome” is cited as the No. 4 area of improvement. Homeowners mention wishing, for example, that they could have seen more detailed drawings and diagrams, 3D renderings, and design details like the exact colors that would be used. This is one area where overcommunication can be a positive thing, especially when it comes to ensuring homeowner’s expectations and your design vision are fully aligned.

Action items:

1. Provide comprehensive design renderings, including 3D walk-throughs and 2D plans.

2. Use tools like the Houzz Pro Room Planner to show every product that will be included.

3. Offer as many tangible samples and setups as possible: fabric swatches, paint swatches, tile samples and so on. Create a mood board. Show areas where furniture and artwork will go using masking tape.

Provide Easy Payment Options

Sure, some people are still happy to write out checks for all their bills. But these days many homeowners appreciate not just the convenience but the flexibility of being able to pay online. Although online payment options are ranked No. 5 among areas of improvement, behind all the areas mentioned above, consider that you might lose out on clients and all the resulting revenue if you choose to take payment only in the form of cash.

In addition to wishing they could pay online just for convenience, respondents expressed frustration at the amount of actual cash they had to lay out well ahead of time even for items that might take a long time to arrive. Paying by credit card gives them the flexibility to pay on a longer timeline if they choose.

In fact, according to the 2022 Houzz & Home Study, 35% of renovating homeowners overall use credit cards to finance their project — and that percentage increased by 6 points since 2021. For smaller projects (up to $5,000), the share is even higher, at 41%.

Action items:

1. Set up online and credit card payment options. With Houzz Pro you can set them up directly in Invoice or Estimates.

2. Include clear, easy to understand language about any potential late fees that might be assessed in case homeowners make late payments.

Get Noticed, Reviewed and Recommended

A recent Houzz survey showed that even when homeowners receive a referral by word of mouth, over 60% still do their own research on the web. Having a reputable online presence is key to attracting and winning new clients. Websites are still the best, proven way to build a professional reputation. Today, with the internet in the palm of our hands, a website must also be responsive and mobile-friendly. Houzz Pro Essential and Ultimate subscriptions help you stay reputable by offering a free professional website with templates that are web-optimized and work on any desktop or mobile device.

Our website templates are designed to build your brand and help convert prospective clients - when leads come in through your website, they’re tracked for you in Houzz Pro and you’ll receive email and in-app notifications. Houzz Pro Website Services designs help you make a great impression and clearly convey your business value and expertise. They support unlimited photos and content so you can show off your complete portfolio, host video, introduce you and your team, showcase your reviews and testimonials, awards you’ve won, encourage new business inquiries, and more.

Of course you already know that having positive reviews is helpful to landing future clients and repeat business. But did you know that fully 62% of homeowners we surveyed say that recommendations, references and online reviews are collectively one of the most important factors when they’re looking to hire a professional? And according to the Houzz 2022 State of the Industry report, pros say that client referrals/word of mouth is the top contributing factor to their business revenues. What do pros cite as the No. 2 factor that contributes to their business revenue in a meaningful way? You guessed it: repeat business.

So don’t be shy about asking former clients to write about their experience with you, even if the project was a while back, and to refer you to their friends, colleagues and family. If you don’t ask, you might never get these all-important reviews. You can easily request reviews in the My Houzz section of your Houzz profile. Just sign in and click the Get Reviews link near your profile picture. Add the client’s email address and write a message; you can even save your message as a default for the future. Then click Send. 

Action items:

1. Discover 5 budget-friendly ways to promote your interior design or construction business.

2. Make sure your website and professional profile have stellar photos.

3. Ask clients to write reviews for your work. 

By taking advantage of all of these insights from our Houzz research and accomplishing the accompanying to-dos, you’ll be better positioned to finish out 2022 strong and make 2023 a productive and profitable year!  

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