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Zillow Digs vs. Houzz: The Ultimate Home Design App Showdown

Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013

As many prospective homeowners (or those fond of looking at real estate information) know Zillow is the go-to website for information regarding pricing, past sales, size, property taxes and much more about homes. Houzz, on the other hand, is the go-to social network for interior designers, builders and contractors. You can create ideabooks and for designers and contractors display your work for the world to see.

Photo Feb 20, 5 33 58 PM resized 600      VS    Photo Feb 21, 11 41 18 AM resized 600

This past month, Zillow debuted a new app called Zillow Digs, which shows photos of beautiful rooms and provides "Dig Estimates" of kitchens and bathrooms that tell people how much it might cost them to do the same remodel in their homes (an algorithim was developed by economists and experts .  Each Digs Estimate includes specific breakdowns of labor costs (i.e. demolition, backsplash and cabinet installation) and materials (i.e. countertops and appliances). This is unlike Houzz where the user has to tag products to label the cost.

Both apps succeed in terms of style and usability (some disagree), what we at 360Chestnut wanted to know was which app is better for information on energy efficient home improvement projects? Which features more eco-friendly homes and design ideas? Is it better to ask a contractor on Houzz about what product they used for their sustainable countertops or is it better to see the estimate of how much the entire kitchen cost? How many LEED or sustainable homes are featured?  Here’s our breakdown:

Houzz: You can find plenty of examples of sustainable, LEED rated homes, along with homes that feature solar panels and geo-thermal technology. They have dedicated articles to green building that showcase that the innovation and practicality of sustainable homes.  Additionally, if not already listed in their comments of their projects, contractors, builders and designers will answer questions about the materials they used to create a sustainable space. As a result of its audience, the space is on the more educated side of design and home improvement. While many of the homes featured are generally on the luxury side, it does give you an idea of how you can be creative with energy efficient homes (having solar panels double as a canopy? Brilliant!).  

Zillow: In searching for LEED homes, there were none. The same goes for eco-friendly. I found some homes tagged as sustainable but there was no information about why it is, just a possible estimate of the cost of the renovation based on where I live.  Only about 50% of the rooms featured have cost estimates. You get the sense that Zillow pulled their content from Real Estate listings and online photos that are stylistically pretty but lack substance (and the occasional grainy photo) you do not get a sense of this is possible for my home as you do with Houzz.

The Winner: Houzz.  Zillow has the potential to be a great space for energy efficient home improvement projects, but for now it lacks of the content to do so. It is great that a consumer can see the price points for rooms, but without the information about what is being used to create that space it leaves a lot to be desired.  As a consumer looking at home improvement I want information on the countertops used, not just an estimate of the cost.  Houzz also benefits from its higher amount of users, it has an arsenal of 170,000 professionals where Zillow Digs only has 19,000.

Don’t forgot to check out our Houzz page!