Zillow, the home listing marketplace where users can browse available home rentals and sale listings, will expand into another lucrative area of real estate in an announcement planned for Tuesday afternoon: the launch of Zillow Digs, new category dedicated to home improvement and home remodeling.
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff spoke at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in September about how the company had made the transition to mobile better than most, and Zillow Digs will debut as both an iPad app and on the Web. Digs will allow users to save and like photos of popularly remodeled rooms like kitchens and bathrooms and then view estimates for how much some of those remodels might cost, based on the materials and items selected.
This is the section of Digs that the company is billing as most different from sites like Pinterest; namely, the ability to get a sense of what that beautiful cast iron bathtub and subway tiles will actually cost you, as opposed to just saving a pretty picture. But it’s also a feature that has a lot to prove before we’ll know if the cost estimates are reliable.
A Zillow spokeswoman explained that the company has devised an algorithm to evaluate photos of particular items like tile, drywall and cabinets, but that human contractors have also evaluated a large number of the photos already on the site that have price tags attached. The result is a database that can give customers a general idea of what particular features might cost to assist in their planning process, according to the company.
It seems like for most people planning a remodel, traditional paper home improvement magazines or Pinterest boards might still do the trick for actual inspiration, due to the sheer volume of home photos that already exist on the web. And home remodels often cost much more than just the price of cabinets — ask anyone who’s discovered they have to move a beam or discovered termite damage in the remodel process. But if Zillow can make the price estimates useful (they already have some contractors posting images of re-designed rooms and associated prices), it seems like it could be a handy feature.