PODCAST 1 - Cool Tools To Organize Your New Home Ideas – Interview With Annie Nozawa Of Houzz.com

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Transcript of Build Your Dream Home Podcast - Episode 1:

This is the Build Your Dream Home podcast with Mark Mathis, Episode One.

Always wanted to build your dream house, but not sure where to start? You're in the right place. Welcome to the Build Your Dream Home podcast, where experts in the industry share their knowledge and help you to be one step closer to building your dream home.

And here's your host, Mark Mathis.


Mark Mathis:

Hey everybody. This is Mark Mathis with House Plan Gallery, and I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us for our very first episode of the Build Your Dream Home podcast presented by House Plan Gallery.

Now, in this podcast, I want to give you a little bit of background on exactly what we're going to be providing each and every month. And in this podcast, our goal is to do nothing more than provide you with awesome content to help you be knowledgeable about the entire process of building your dream house.

Whether or not you've built 20 houses before or you're brand new and don't know where to even start, we're going to take you from the very start to the end and we're going to help you to understand all about house plans, all about choosing a contractor, all about the different architectural styles and features that you might want to consider in your new house.

And along the way, we're going to be giving you some access to some awesome online tools and resources and we're going to be interviewing industry insiders in a variety of different areas with the sole purpose of helping you to get to that dream home that you've been wanting your entire life.

And before we get started with an awesome interview with Annie from Houzz, I wanted to just tell you about one testimonial that we just got in over the last couple of days on our website at houseplangallery.com, and this one comes from Julius and Melissa from Oak Grove, Mississippi. And they had purchased our plan, the Willowbrook, which is HPG-2851-1.

So Julius and Melissa say, "We've been looking for our perfect home design for quite a while and we're beginning to think that our ideal plan didn't exist. And at about that time we were referred to House Plan Gallery who had a large collection of stock house plans, all of which could be modified to fit our exact needs.

We ended up selecting the HPG-2851 house plan and Steven and his team worked with us to understand our exact modification needs. No matter how particular I could possibly have been, the group of people at House Plan Gallery was always willing to take care of my every issue and need to the fullest extent. Thanks so much to the whole gang for making my dream home design come true."

That was from Julius and Melissa and if you want check out that plan, you can just go to our website to check that out. Now, in this episode of the podcast, I'm extremely excited to interview Annie Nozawa, with houzz.com.

If you've been putting together ideas for quite a while, you probably have a shoe box or a notebook or maybe a scrapbook full of pictures and photos and different items from magazines and books and brochures that you've gathered over the years, something to put together all the different ideas that you have for building your new dream home.

And you can know it can be very cumbersome to have to tote around that box constantly and it's not always accessible for you. Well houzz.com provides you with your own personalized portal, so to speak, where you can clip pictures and ideas and information from their website.

It has hundreds of thousands, if not millions of photos submitted by professional photographers, by builders, by contractors, by people just like you. And you can basically search by every single room in the house and find some awesome ideas for different things that you can do with your own home.

And you are able to actually interact one-on-one on the different message boards with actual contractors, interior designers, and be able to ask them questions and get feedback. It's just a tremendous resource and I highly recommend, right after this podcast, be sure to go out to houzz.com and set up your free account.



Now, it's time for the expert interview of the week. Experts bringing their knowledge and expertise to help you on your journey to building your dream home.

Mark Mathis:

Hey Annie, how are you doing today.


Fantastic Mark. Thank you. How are you?

Mark Mathis:

I'm doing great. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today, and for any of you that don't know about Houzz, Annie is the marketing manager there and I found this website about a year or so ago when I was looking for some cool ideas for some of our new plans and one of the really great things that I find is that it provides you a way to build, what they call idea books, which is a way to organize pictures and thoughts and products and even local professionals in a way that's very easy to access.

They have mobile applications for your iPhone and iPad, probably other platforms as well. And I thought it was just an awesome idea, specifically targeted to people who are looking to remodel their house, but in our case build that next house, and so Annie, could you tell us a little bit more about Houzz and some of the background of the company, how it got started?


Absolutely. Well Mark, you definitely covered a whole bunch of it. We have over a million photos inside and outside the home that can serve as inspiration for anyone who's looking to plan a Z model or build a new custom home.

And on top of that, every photo actually comes from a professional in our community. Anytime that you are adding a photo from Houzz into one of your idea book, it's actually attached to a professional around the country or even around the world and you can get all of their contact information and see all the kinds of projects that they've uploaded to their profile. 

But just a little bit of background about Houzz, which is actually a pretty cool and relevant, our founders are actually a husband and wife who created Houzz as a result of their own remodeling project. They moved from New York to Palo Alto, California a few years ago and they bought an old 50s ranch house and thought this was going to be a really fun project.

We'll remodel this house in a way that'll be fantastic for us and our young kids. And what they realize after they started was, wow, this is a lot more work than we thought. And they didn't have their own family or friends network, so they were relying on referrals to architects and contractors from their real estate agent, and they couldn't find exactly the photos that they were looking for in magazines or in books to help articulate to their builder and their architect exactly what they wanted. 

They thought, well, geez, there's a website for everything these days. Why isn't there one fully modeling and renovation? That's how Houzz actually got started back in late 2009 and since then we've grown pretty significantly around the U.S. and Canada and certainly all over the world. And we're just really thrilled to see that it's helping folks solve their problems of finding the right ideas and the right photo inspiration as well as the right professionals to make the job happen.

Mark Mathis:

Absolutely. And just in our day to day work with our clients, one of the most frequently asked questions that we have is, do you have a photo of “X”? And it might be a photo of a great room that's actually been built for one of our plans, or it might be a photo of how this particular room or this porch actually looks built out.

And so much of that is really down to personal preference. Even though we draw it a certain way on our working drawings, each person has their own style and their own needs as far as what they need the house to accomplish for them. 

And so many times we'll get photos back that they might not be applicable to show to a lot of other people, because everyone's needs and interests and the things that they lack are so different. That's why I thought it was so awesome. On your site, you're able to ...

Well, I'll let you talk about idea books a little bit more, but you can basically search not only by room, if you want to get ideas for your great room, for example, but you can also search by room and architectural style. If you like a more modern look, if you like a more country look, you can search by that as well.

Why don't you tell us a little bit more about the concept behind idea books?


Absolutely. Well, so like you had just said, Houzz really has lots of different photos for all different kinds of styles, all different rooms, all different kinds of landscapes and exterior's of a home.

What's great about Houzz, we actually have idea books that we think are pretty useful and homeowners are telling us that they're a great tool for when they start planning their projects. Think of an idea book on Houzz as a virtual Manila folder. 

Back in the day, before the internet or before Houzz, what folks would have to do is go into magazines and tear out images that they really liked and maybe remember to put a post it on there marking down, it's not the whole room I like, I really just like this crown molding or I really like this range in this kitchen image or they bookmark pages out of a book. And what you're able to do on Houzz is really drill down on exactly what you're looking for.


If you want to find an orange kitchen or you want ideas for a marble backsplash or a gray bedroom or a specific type of roof line, you can actually just search right into our search bar and all the photos that pop up are exactly what you're looking for. It really makes the process of finding the kind of photo inspiration you're hoping to see a lot more efficient than having to simply browse. 

And once you like a photo and you want to remember it and keep track of it for the project you're planning, you can just click on add to idea book. And create a new idea book, if you are working on a fiction or if you have a specific idea both for the bedrooms or the bathrooms, you can add that photo into the idea book and also include a little note that you jot down that helps you remember what you liked or want to remember about the image.

And other idea book functionality work not only on our website, houzz.com, but also on the app for anyone who's got an iPad, an iPhone or an Android.

Mark Mathis:

Yeah. And my wife actually showed me some of the features of the mobile app. I had not really used it as much. I still ... In many cases, I'll tear pages out of magazines and I'll keep them in a big pile about five feet tall on my kitchen table so it looks horrible, and then I forget to go back and look at it. 

She started using the mobile app and she made a good point that you can just, with a mobile app you can actually just save everything where it's right there, but even in its most simplistic form, you can take your iPhone or your iPad or whatever and actually just take a picture of the magazine page, if you have a hard copy, to store that digitally. 

And Houzz really allows you to have all that stuff integrated in one place, especially if you're a husband and wife and you're looking to combine your ideas into one thing and it's an easy way for you to keep track of the things that you liked, she liked and some of your thoughts about the things that you didn't like, so hopefully you can come together and find a style or a design material or a look that really matches both of your desires.

Mark Mathis:

Tell us a little bit more about the service that you offer around finding local professionals, because we are constantly contacted by our clients and they'd like to know if we have a recommendation for a certain trade in their particular area, namely builders. 

And in most cases, we aren't able to give them a recommendation just because we're not from that area. We don't have contacts in that particular area since we sell all around the United States and Canada.

Tell us a little bit more about the local professionals network and what they're able to provide to kind of give you more information about them and their background and to see if they might be a good fit for you.


Definitely. Well, on Houzz, if you ever go on there, there are a bunch of different things you can click on right from the toolbar at the top and one of them is find local pros. And when you click into that you'll see that we've got lots of different home improvement professional, hundreds of thousands in fact, all over the country who are specializing in different parts of the renovation and decorating process. 

If you are in a particular location of the country, there's definitely going to be professionals who are there who've gone on to Houzz and uploaded projects from their past work onto their Houzz profile, and every one of them indicates what kind of a category of professional they are.

If you're a homeowner and you're looking for someone to manage the whole design build process, we've got a design build category. 

If you're just looking for an interior designer, someone who specializes in kitchen design or kitchen remodeling, or someone who's a specific ... As a pool and spa specialist or a garage door specialist, we actually have all of those folks.


We've got over 30 different kinds of service and vendor professionals on Houzz that you can click in on and search within your local area. We actually allow you also to have radius specified.

Let's say that you're looking for someone in Gastonia, North Carolina, but you're open to finding someone within a hundred miles of Gastonia, you can actually specify that in your search for local professionals and we'll be able to show folks who are as relevant as possible to you. 

And for every professional who is ... Has got a Houzz profile, you can click in on there, read their business description and what that allows you to do is see a little bit more about their background, what their certification areas, what kinds of services they provide.

In a lot of cases, especially with the designers and builders, they have lots of different other services beyond just what their title might be as well as the areas that they serve and their contact information.


You can see all of their projects as well as any discussions that they've been a part of on Houzz, and then you can also click over to their website and see more about their work there. The other thing that we really think is helpful for the homeowners out there who are looking for a professional on Houzz is that we also have reviews. 

Professionals around the country are getting reviews from past clients who've worked with them, who are endorsing their customer service, how great they are to work with and the quality of their work.

Mark Mathis:

Absolutely. And for anyone out there who's looking to build a new house or remodel their existing house, this is a great way to get a more holistic view of any of your tradesmen that you're looking to hire.

For example, many builders might have, for example, a very simplistic website that they don't actually manage, and so through Houzz, they can create a very multimedia rich profile where it's very easy to upload pictures of their previous work. 

It's very easy to upload videos. It's very easy to enter information in exactly the right way to best convey what exactly it is they do. Many of those might not be able to add that same information to their own website.

In addition, you're able to see not only examples of pictures of work that they've actually done in the past, but you can also see reviews of others.

You can also see how many different forum posts that they've commented on. You can read through those answers and see if that's the type of person that you think would compliment your personality and the way that you'd like to do business. 

And so by going on a site like Houzz, you are able to see a much better view of what a particular builder or tradesman can do and you can see the social proof so you can actually see if they're interacting on the boards to better gauge whether or not you'd like to continue the discussion, because a lot of times, people aren't really ready to take that next step and actually call someone up on the phone and start the process of, for example, building a new house, because they don't know if that person is going to be a hard sell type person that's going to bug them forever, even if they're not 100% ready to move forward or not.

And Houzz provides a very easy and simplistic way to start that engagement without actually raising your hand and giving them a call on the phone and worrying about the person on the other end. I thought that was a really cool aspect of the site as well. 

Now, one aspect of the site is also products and so many of the rooms and the pictures that you show also have the products that you see in the photos available on that same page. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that works?


Absolutely. The products that are on Houzz definitely come from all over and they're all on there from professionals, again, who are either retailers or showroom vendors or manufacturers of different products.

Whether you are looking for a specific style or a specific type of room that you're looking to furnish or find materials for, the product section on Houzz can be a really great resource. 

What we allow everyone to see, whenever there's a product on there, is the price if that's available, a description of the product itself as well as the dimensions and where it's carried or who it's sold by so that you can click over and actually make a purchase on that website. What's cool about it is it doesn't just limit itself to furnishings or decor or accessories. 

We actually also have folks like tile and countertop and stone manufacturers who are loading different kinds of patterns of stonework or different tiles. It actually goes as far as providing materials for folks who are looking to build or renovate as well.

Mark Mathis:

Absolutely. And if you've not had a chance to go out and check out all of these different things on the website, be sure to check that out because it's one of the most user friendly websites that I found for this particular topic. 

You can spend days in there just interacting on the different forums and the discussion forums and looking at building these idea books, because we get a lot of our ideas for what is it we'd like to structure different room spaces from looking at the pictures on Houzz. 

And also, it provides us, as designers, with a easy way to be able to recommend different people, builders and things around the country. It helps us be more of a partner with all of our clients. And can you tell us some of the things that are coming down the pipe with Houzz as far as new features and functionalities?


Yeah, well we're definitely always coming out with new features and new ideas on ways that we can create the ultimate resource for people planning their projects and working with professionals. Actually one of the things that I can say that we just launched was that we are now able to have you filter by price in the product section. 

And also a thing that I wanted to make sure folks knew is that if you are in the product section of Houzz and you want to remember a product that you found on here, you can also add products to your idea books as well. 

It's not just the photo inspiration. It's basically any image of a product or a final space, on Houzz, you can add that. But yeah, so again, anytime that we hear from a professional or a homeowner about some idea or a service or a feature or a function that we can develop that would make Houzz more useful, we absolutely work on that.

I kind of want to keep it a little bit of a surprise as far as what we've got in the pipeline, but what I can definitely tell you is that any of the upgrades that we make to Houzz or our app are based off of the feedback that we get from our real users, because we always want to prioritize making sure that what we're working on and what we're improving is going to be as useful and beneficial as possible to the folks in our community.

Mark Mathis:

Absolutely. And if they want to learn more, where can they go?


If you want to learn more about Houzz, absolutely. First of all, feel free to send us an email anytime. We've got an in house support team that you can contact at support@houzz.com. Or if you want to learn more, if you just scroll to the bottom of any page on Houzz, we've got more information about us and our company, times that we've been featured in the news, as well as some other things that you can do on the site. And that's just the bottom black toolbar is where you can navigate to all of the sections of the website.

Mark Mathis:

Awesome. And that's H-O-U-Z-Z.com. And Annie, with that, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.


Absolutely. Thank you so much Mark for inviting me on. It's been a pleasure.

Mark Mathis:

Absolutely. Maybe we can do this again in the future. Thank you very much. I'll talk to you later.


Thank you so much Mark. Have a great one.


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