Zillow starts estimating remodeling costs

Zillow is already known for estimating housing values but just last week they started offering another estimation: what it will cost to remodel.

On Tuesday, Zillow waded into the world of remodeling, by pairing its database of photos of pretty rooms (from its for-sale listings) with the tool that seems to drive most aspects of American life these days, the algorithm.

Thus, the company is attempting to answer the obvious question that dogs glossy magazine layouts and cable TV decorating shows: How much would it cost to do a room like that, anyway?

Remodeling costs are notoriously difficult to generalize about with the public, for a number of reasons…

Undeterred by all that, the website has rolled out Zillow Digs, which has launched with about 6,500 photos of kitchens and master baths. Beyond mere real estate eye candy, though, it also has brought in a team of contractors to offer estimates of the cost of each room’s appliances, finishing materials, labor, etc.

As the article notes, this could be quite a money maker with the number of Americans who remodel their homes. It seems like the algorithm could benefit from getting some data after the remodeling takes place; perhaps a later appraisal or an estimate based on a later sales price. Of course, this would require waiting some time after the remodeling takes place and perhaps there are not enough cases of remodeling within a certain geographic area to make a good estimate.

In the end, it will be interesting to see how many people make use of this new site. Additionally, how many will be willing to make financial decisions based on the estimates from the site?

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