Homestars.com – Reviews of Home Improvement Companies

homestars.pngHomestars.com is a publicly accessible reviews site that does not require any registration in order to read reviews. Posting reviews requires an account. Homestars is focused solely on the “home improvement companies and resources for homeowners” niche.

Homestars’ focus on a single vertical is smart and they are executing on it well. The most specific advantage of this approach is that selling targeted advertising at a premium will be much easier for HomeStars, who have very specifically motivated users in the home improvement space. These people are ready and willing to spend money, and if HomeStars can get them to the site, there is no doubt that advertisers will be ready to pay.

Perhaps it is a result of the narrow focus of the site, but the user interface is very easy to navigate and it is a lot of fun to just dive in and start (as I did) looking for pissed off people skewering their plumber or driveway repairman. As you dive in you will notice “Sponsored Ads” on some pages. If you look up a review for Plumber Bob, who seems like an honest and hardworking guy, you will see that Canada Wide Plumbing & Mechanical Services Inc. have a “sponsored” ad on Plumber Bobs page. To get one of the premium spots, and to add pictures and a few other things to your own page, you pay a monthly fee of $80. These premium spots make up the bulk of HomStars’ revenue.

Because people often want a review of something as specific as a Plumber or a Roofer only intermittently, I think HomeStars have done the right thing in making the site as public as possible. Home Rennovations is a niche that has been overlooked so far and unlike books, music, travel, or cars, it has been hard to get decent local reviews of these services.

hsreviews.pngHomestars have also recently done a deal to provide their review data to another Toronto based startup: ZipLocal.com, who, as we have mentioned before, appear to be treading water and perhaps are hoping that bringing in more high-quality review content will generate some additional traffic. I think HomeStars has to be careful about licensing their reviews outside of Homestars.com; I am not sure that when a user enters a review on HomeStars the user expects it to be syndicated.

The most glaring problem for HomeStars is accountability. As far as I can tell there is no way to see what other reviews a particular user has posted, so it is hard to know if a review is just a one-off from someone, or if they are an established and helpful reviewer. I think HomeStars will need some sort of scoring system that gets applied to the individual reviewers, based on their participation. Otherwise, HomeStars risks filling up with spam reviews.

  • http://scrawledinwax.com Nav

    Thanks for the review. In terms of this niche, there is also a site called eRenovate.com which performs a similar function. I have no details on its genesis though.

  • http://scrawledinwax.com Nav

    Thanks for the review. In terms of this niche, there is also a site called eRenovate.com which performs a similar function. I have no details on its genesis though.

  • http://www.traffick.com Andrew Goodman

    Regarding user profiles and other ways of enhancing trust and interaction among trusted “online neighbors,” rest assured we’re working on it at HomeStars! Nice overview Jevon.

  • http://www.traffick.com Andrew Goodman

    Regarding user profiles and other ways of enhancing trust and interaction among trusted “online neighbors,” rest assured we’re working on it at HomeStars! Nice overview Jevon.

  • http://www.homestars.com Nancy Peterson

    Thanks for the input Jevon – you’ve made a great point on quality of reviews. All are read before posting – as quality does count. We catch companies trying to post on themselves or on others (some after posting on themselves :). And we are working on some deeper features in the new year – such as allowing readers to see history on reviewers. I appreciate the feedback!

    Nancy Peterson, Co-founder

  • http://www.homestars.com Nancy Peterson

    Thanks for the input Jevon – you’ve made a great point on quality of reviews. All are read before posting – as quality does count. We catch companies trying to post on themselves or on others (some after posting on themselves :). And we are working on some deeper features in the new year – such as allowing readers to see history on reviewers. I appreciate the feedback!

    Nancy Peterson, Co-founder

  • Douglas Mac Isaac

    I am writing regarding my experience with FM Windows and Doors. Prior to moving personal residences in Nov. 2007, I hired FM Windows to replace all of the windows in my house. Actually, I initially Hire FM to replace two or three windows, and was so pleased by the product quality and professional service that I hired them to replace all of the remaining windows. After moving to my new home this past November, I hired FM to replace eight of the windows, those that were the oldest and least energy efficient. The decision to hire FM after moving was an easy one – their windows are truly excellent in terms of their appearance and quality, and I couldn’t imagine how the service could’ve been better. I plan to hire FM again in the spring to replace the remaining older windows in my home. I have also recommended FM to a number of close friends and family members, all of whom phoned to say how happy they were with this company. I hope this helps other people looking for a replacement window company.

  • Douglas Mac Isaac

    I am writing regarding my experience with FM Windows and Doors. Prior to moving personal residences in Nov. 2007, I hired FM Windows to replace all of the windows in my house. Actually, I initially Hire FM to replace two or three windows, and was so pleased by the product quality and professional service that I hired them to replace all of the remaining windows. After moving to my new home this past November, I hired FM to replace eight of the windows, those that were the oldest and least energy efficient. The decision to hire FM after moving was an easy one – their windows are truly excellent in terms of their appearance and quality, and I couldn’t imagine how the service could’ve been better. I plan to hire FM again in the spring to replace the remaining older windows in my home. I have also recommended FM to a number of close friends and family members, all of whom phoned to say how happy they were with this company. I hope this helps other people looking for a replacement window company.

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  • pat symons

    After 3:00 pm Friday I called DrainWorks 416-233-6699 because the water was backed up in the laundry tub. The chap who answered the phone was excellent. He explained the company's procedures in a call such as mine & finished by saying the help would arrive before 5 pm. The plumber was here by 4:30 — he completed the job with no fuss or bother. He took charge of what he had to do, explained how he was about to proceed & finished the job quickly. Both men exuded confidence in their abilities. This increased my trust in their company & staff. Thank you. Pat

  • Deen

    homestars.com & homestars.ca MOST reviews are written by service providers themselves for themselves. Could anyone at Google or Yahoo analyze that?

  • Deen

    homestars.com & homestars.ca MOST reviews are written by service providers themselves for themselves. Could anyone at Google or Yahoo analyze that?

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  • http://www.etpainting.com/whole_house_renovations.html toronto home renovations

    This is a great project, both in use and in the design.
    There are so many good things about this project that it seems too good to be true, but I hope it happens.
    Good luck to the team!!!

  • terry cord

    Looks like a drainworks add, god they are so desperate. Especially when you charge 700 bucks to supply and install a 50 dollar faucet, what %*&^ crooks!

  • terry cord

    Yes they are, although drainworks (commission free?) which is a lie, they pay their plumbers a monthly bonus over a set amount goal….. how honest are they??? ask any plumber who used to work their…they pay off their customers to write a review, although customers are filtered! only the happy ones are given the offer! So to say they are the best, is far from the truth….

  • terry cord

    Looks like a drainworks add, god they are so desperate. Especially when you charge 700 bucks to supply and install a 50 dollar faucet, what %*&^ crooks!

  • terry cord

    Yes they are, although drainworks (commission free?) which is a lie, they pay their plumbers a monthly bonus over a set amount goal….. how honest are they??? ask any plumber who used to work their…they pay off their customers to write a review, although customers are filtered! only the happy ones are given the offer! So to say they are the best, is far from the truth….

  • Amesco55

    we had backed up floor drain with grease. we called drainworks in the evening. next morning mike showed up,as scheduled. he was very nice and honest. he ran camera through, explained the fee and one hour later we were problem free. this is not an ad. this is true. we don’t know if it’s always that way, but our neighbor told us about her happy experience with them, so it’s 2 in a row.

  • Carolyn G Nelson

    I had installation from Canadian Choice Windows and Doors.
    I like the fact that it is from brick-to-brick replacement.
    Carolyn Nelson

  • Gail M. Labrosse

    Blu Dot Interiors, Ottawa

    Badra has helped with design suggestions for a master bath and a main bath renovation. She is prompt, quick, and has a great feel for what looks good in the old home we live in. I highly recommend her.

  • Michael and Hazel Schwartz

    We have been asked for an EXTRA $500 to redo the vanity plumbing after what the plumber did without unpacking everything as stated before.
    We have therefore been left ‘high and dry’ with new screws that have been very kindly replaced and sent by the vanity company, and have been waiting to be installed taking the vanity unit up to the correct height. (AGAIN, reiterating, IF all had been unpacked initially we wouldn’t be having to write this now).
    Also, Greg put up two towel rails which have since come off the wall. One 3 weeks ago and the 2nd last week leaving us nowhere in the bathroom to dry the towels, and it looks awful.
    Also, Greg HAD said he would look for a longer ‘piece’ of whatever it’s called which connects to the en suite vanity plug so that it opens when pushed and pulled by the gadget at the back. Hard to explain but Greg WILL know what we’re referring to.
    As stated earlier, Priority Plumbing is trying to charge us an extra $500 which we just do not have!
    And we’re still stuck! And the problem is not going away!

  • http://www.marblepolishing.net/ Marble Repair West Palm Beach

    Thanks for the input Jevon – you’ve made a great point on quality of reviews.