Kowalski Construction in Phoenix has discovered a way to give clients a value-added service at the close of a job -- via a Web-based home inventory service. Among other benefits, it reminds homeowners of expiring warranties and scheduled maintenance work.
The service, SmartHomesite.com, also automatically alerts homeowners to recalls or class action lawsuits on appliances and other equipment. Jim Kowalski, CEO, says his insurance restoration company pays the $49.95 set-up fee/year subscription, leaving homeowners to pay the recurring $19.95 annual cost.
Since the service became available in October, Kowalski has signed up about 36 clients, all on $10,000-plus jobs. He says those who survived fires say if they had SmartHomesite to begin with, rebuilding would have been easier. "So it really connects for them," he says.
Eric Loveland of XactSites, the Xactware subsidiary managing SmartHomesite.com, says SmartHomesite sets up sites on its server (using the same encryption online banking uses) to track home-related purchases and service information. Homeowners record serial numbers and scan in copies of receipts, service records, pictures, or catalog warranties. They can record insurance policies and deeds. Using an online tool, they can sketch a floor plan. A home valuation tool calculates reconstruction price with 90% accuracy.
Kowalski says because his firm uses Xactware's estimating program, Xactimate, much of the data is transferable to SmartHomesite. "We send the digital pictures and sketches, so when a homeowner opens it up, everything is there for them," he says.
Loveland wouldn't disclose how many users have signed up so far. But the Orem, Utah, company envisions a huge market. Over six years, it has processed about 2 million electronic estimates through XactNet.com, its Internet service that helps transfer estimates and insurance information from contractors to insurance companies. One obstacle might be getting users to tediously catalog home contents. But an Atlanta-based company with nationwide offices, Crawford and Co. ( www.crawfordandcompany.com), will, for a fee, inspect a home, create a floor plan, and start a vital equipment inventory.