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Buzzbuzzhome is setting up a forum for people to review builders the way that people critique restaurants and other services on sites such as Yelp.
Mr. Slutsky, founder of Buzzbuzzhome.com and a former vice-president of development for a builder, says he was reluctant to go ahead with this initiative for some time.
That's because his business, an online searchable catalogue of new residential developments in North America, receives about 95 per cent of its revenue from builders (the remaining 5 per cent comes from agents). Builders or developers can pay to have one of their projects showcased on the website; by paying a fee, the builder can ensure that their listing receives good placement and includes special features. Consumers are then able to use the site at no charge to search for a new home.
"It's scary for us because builders are our clients, and if they get really bad reviews then there could be trouble for us," Mr. Slutsky says. "That said, we believe in transparency in the market, and we hope that builders will be open and respond to any negative reviews. We hope these builders will learn from their reviews and work on bettering their company."
Mr. Slutsky says he believes that the majority of builders do great work, and he expects there to be a lot of positive reviews. "And if at the end of the day we lose a few clients because they weren't happy they had a bad review, so be it."
The company decided to include the ability for builders to respond once to each review.
There are sites out there that allow consumers to review people in the construction industry, such as HomeStars.com, which allows homeowners to write reviews about their home improvement and renovation experiences and helps consumers to shop for a contractor. But Mr. Slutsky says that the builder review capability on his site is fairly unique.
Only a handful of consumers have reviewed builders and developers since Buzzbuzzhome launched the capability a short time ago, but Mr. Slutsky is hoping to have broader response within a month or so once word gets out.
The surveys on the site are customized depending on if the reviewer is an owner, a renter, an agent, an investor, someone who looked at a place, or "other."
Questions include topics such as floor plans and layout, interior build quality, exterior build quality, amenities, value, energy efficiency, delays, warranty experience and the time it takes the builder to fix issues. There is also space for extra comments and an overall recommendation.