This month’s issue includes stories about three unfilled market niches that are significant opportunities for builders: culturally aware housing, live-work housing, and Missing Middle Housing.
Online Homeowner's Manual Makes Home Upkeep a Click and a Snap
Everyone knows that manuals and warranty information that come with appliances, materials and other major home purchases should be kept in one convenient and central location.
Everyone knows that manuals and warranty information that come with appliances, materials and other major home purchases should be kept in one convenient and central location. But, truth be told, how many of us really do that? When we need to know the exact purchase date of that expensive water heater, is the receipt always stapled to the manual?
Now, a new Web site has come along to bring together the resources and industry alliances to automate that information and make the process easier for homeowners, remodelers and builders alike. The site, at www.homewrite.com, provides tools for managing home warranty information and resources, expert advice on typical home problems, and original articles germane to homes, neighborhoods and communities.
"Bill Gates wanted a PC in every home; we want a home in every PC," says Beau Engman, chairman and chief executive officer of HomeWrite.com. "The idea is simple: We expect operating manuals for our cars, boats and even our toaster ovens, but not our homes. HomeWrite provides an owners manual for the largest purchase people typically make -- a home."
HomeWrite.com supplies a permanent digital record of all data related to the house and its furnishings, an especially valuable tool in the event of fire, theft, vandalism or natural disaster. Users log in to the site, set up their own personal home manual free of charge and automatically receive maintenance alerts on such things as resealing tile floors, re-caulking windows, replacing HVAC filters or any other pertinent service items.
The manual includes:
"We have had great success establishing alliances that automate the capturing of information into the manual, providing excellent content for homeowners and achieving wide distribution," says Engman.
Expert advice is also available. Steve Spratt is the site's resident handyman and home expert. Users can quiz Spratt on any problems they are having or have had as well as look through an archive of articles on problems Spratt has solved for previous users.
Engman adds that builders benefit from this site by capturing this information during the building process and presenting one easy-to-remember Web address to the buyer instead of a thick packet full of manuals and paperwork. HomeWrite's tools are also a value-added service for Realtors in marketing homes, as they provide a track record of work performed that is helpful to any new or experienced homeowner.
Founded in 1998 by a group of marketing, sales and technical professionals with a broad range of experience in home building, remodeling and technology, HomeWrite conducted a six-month survey of builders across the country before developing the site. The site officially launched at the beginning of this year, but Engman and his group are continuing to develop partnerships and alliances with mortgage, title, home maintenance and insurance companies to expand the automated information available.