A San Francisco Bay Area technology company is hoping to make home renovations much easier for people in Meridian with its web service called BuildZoom.

Meridian was recently added to the BuildZoom network, and now contractors may have a new way to connect with customers. It works like a Google search just for contractors and has maps of recent projects so property owners can get a picture of what to expect in their area.

David Petersen and Jiyan Wei started BuildZoom more than three years ago as a start-up while working other jobs. The duo’s inspiration partly came from their experience working on renovations on their own homes and finding a lack of information for bids and contractors.

Wei said he was also at a point in his career where he wanted to work on new applications. The timing for the two entrepreneurs worked well.

“I had actually just purchased my first home, and I wanted to build a workflow application,” Wei said. “At that point, Dave wanted to start working on a new venture.”

The goal with BuildZoom was to help people in a marketplace. Working from the Silicon Valley in California, the duo began developing and fundraising for BuildZoom.

“We started working evenings and weekends up until 2012, and we came to an accelerator,” Wei said.

Now based in San Francisco, the group is bringing local data to different communities.

BuildZoom takes information such as project costs, the number of clients a contractor has had and other metrics to make finding information relevant to homeowners easy.

“One of the questions we kept seeing is people wanting to know who are their neighbors working with,” Wei said.

Part of the BuildZoom website works as a map: different projects pop up in locations where they are completed. It shows the cost and what kind of work was done. Customers can also see who the was contractor on the project.

The map of the Treasure Valley shows projects all over Meridian, Boise and Canyon County.

A directory that lists contractors can be sorted by location, type of work performed and other ways to suit a customer’s needs.

BuildZoom has a rating scale for contractors to help sort skilled, licensed and budget conscious contractors from the ones who miss appointments or who have outdated licensing.

“We have the part of the site that is more a general directory, but we wanted to have a local component,” Wei said. “This would be really interesting for consumers looking to hire for a specific trade.”

Wei said BuildZoom fills a data gap on home improvement. While new construction is usually tracked, there are not always records for remodels.

The data that BuildZoom pulls for its services has also drawn the attention of insurance assessors and realtors.

“Our main … (customer) is someone who is about to take on a major project, not like DIY, but some significant improvement,” Wei said. “We have an application that lets them explain different aspects of the project.”

For customers, BuildZoom is free to sign up. Contractors benefit from the extra exposure and improved listing by maintaining a healthy rating.

One of the important aspects of the rating is to build trust that Wei said previously existed from word of mouth between clients.

“Before these technologies existed (clients would) go ask people they know and go off instinct, and we’re really not changing that behavior,” Wei said.

To learn about BuildZoom and to find out about contractors in Meridian, visit buildzoom.com

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