The Risks of Automated Renovation Services

By J. Philip Hotarek | Lutz Plumbing Inc. | San Francisco, CA

Plumbing and Hardware Industry professionals have battled with online retailers and now automated renovation services for control of the market.

It seems as though the battleground has shifted in an attempt for online service retailers to bridge the gaps between professional design, product selection, and installation services. The perception is that all of these services are available to the consumer through one company that makes the entire process simple and easy. Take the company, Made Renovation, for example with their slogan being “Bathroom Renovations Made easy.” Any experienced contractor or design professional can tell you first hand that there is nothing “easy” about any renovation. Our craft requires in-depth product knowledge, close attention to detail, process, and follow-through. As a contractor with experience in design+build services, advertising a project as “easy” is not my ideal presentation as it immediately devalues my profession. In fact, any high-quality product or outcome for that matter never comes easy and I certainly would not prefer that as a consumer.

” Online retailers have proven to become less of a threat due to the realization of consumers that purchasing plumbing and hardware products require the services of a true professional.”

—J. Philip Hotarek

Risks Associated with AI and Automation in the Plumbing Industry:

Outsourcing is Indirect

What most may not know is that Automated Renovation Service Companies essentially outsource all their work.  Their sales associates are not specialized in any of the three areas of expertise: professional design, product selection, or installation.  While the perception of the process is to make things easier, the process actually becomes more complicated by “adding another chef in the kitchen” and the unnecessary costs associated with it.  Perhaps outsourcing is beneficial in terms of convenience, but certainly not in terms of final outcome.  Better to seek the direct sources that are already available and eliminate the middleman in communication. 

Quality Greater Than Speed

Renovations are not a race, they are a quest to achieve quality, longevity through a detailed and efficient process.  Technology has affected our culture that has consumers accustomed to ultimate convenience and receiving product quickly.  Investors and entrepreneurs in tech have been described as having unreasonable disregard for what can be reasonably done.  This approach resonates with marketing the concept of “renovations made easy.”  It creates the unrealistic expectation of no difficulty being associated with a high quality outcome.  Cultural differences often occur when there is a gap in expectations.  As a result, these automated renovation services who have little experience in our industry have encountered difficulty in successfully working with industry professionals; contractors, designers, and showrooms.  

Technology and Implementation

Automated Renovation Services are relatively immature which yields risks that the concept may not work in the real world.  They are notoriously optimistic and often underestimate the time and costs associated with projects.  In addition, their technology is not equipped to foresee the unlimited variables and potential roadblocks that can occur during a renovation project that can only be navigated through by a true specialist.  

Fall Trends Wood Details

TIP: How To Recognize an Automation Renovation Service

One easy way to recognize and AI or automated renovation service is to look out for speedy results. If the company promises to match the customer with a contractor in under 5 minuets, then chances are its AI.

Have You Heard of These
Automated Renovation Companies?

Block Renovation

Where? Metro New York City

“Block Renovation is here to simplify the process. The startup, allows customers to pick a bathroom out of a catalog of options designed by interior designers, receive an instant quote, and have that exact bathroom installed within three weeks.”
—Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company


Where? Metro New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami

“Sweeten can be credited with starting the digital revolution in the contracting world. The company currently has more than $1 billion of construction in the pipeline and works with more than 1,500 contractors”
—Jessica Daily, Business of Home


Where? Metro Washington, DC & Charlotte

“With this latest product update, homeowners can find and book a predictable and transparent home renovation contractor in five minutes or less, then manage the whole process online from nuts to bolts; and for contractors, it has never been easier to earn remodeling jobs.”
—Chad Hall, CEO, and founder of Remodelmate