App helps homeowners protect their most valuable asset
When entrepreneur Elizabeth Dodson moved from the East Coast to El Dorado Hills she wanted a tool to help manage her new home, which had different materials and maintenance tips than what she’d always known.
“On the East Coast people have basements and no one has tile or stucco roofs like in California,” she said. “Things were breaking or I was always overdue maintaining things.”
She wanted a program that would allow her to keep a home inventory, send her automatic home maintenance reminders and help her plan and troubleshoot home improvement projects with ease.
“I had Excel spreadsheets and photos in a box,” she said. “I just wanted one place to keep everything.”
Dodson thought of the idea while working at Meridian Systems, a construction management software company her husband, Sacramento native John Bodrozic, co-founded in the early 1990s.
“Meridian was the world’s leading commercial construction project management software at the time,” said Dodson, of their “first baby” before selling the company in 2006. “It was used to build high rises, buildings, stadiums, roadways and bridges. The challenge was you could manage a multi-billion dollar building but we didn’t have a tool out there to manage our homes. I was always frustrated and wished there was a home version for it.”
Their “second baby,” HomeZada, was founded by Dodson, Bodrozic and Vancouver, B.C., based David Ing in 2011.
“It was 10 years in the making,” said Dodson. “There are competitors in the market, but none do all HomeZada does. They may offer one piece or functionality, but not the complete functionality.”
As for the name? “The word home is very important to us and our product helps people get organized, which is organizada in Spanish,” Dodson explained. “In Hindi and Arabic, Zada is also a girl’s name for prosperity.”
Customers should minimally sign up for HomeZada’s free, home inventory service for insurance and estate planning purposes, Dodson said.
“You work hard to purchase items in your home, but are they accounted for? Seventy percent of people in the United States do not have a home inventory and for those who do, 80 percent do not update it annually,” she continued. “One thousand homes burn down every day in the U.S., not to mention theft or natural disasters.”
The home inventory feature is also helpful for people with second homes or those who care for a relative’s home, said Dodson. Multiple relatives can access the same property.
After signing up, HomeZada customers gain access to an app, which includes a photo tool feature to quickly and easily take inventory of a home’s valuables. “As a spouse, the photos can also help you collaborate or even assign honey-do lists,” Dodson pointed out.
Maintenance and home improvement projects
For premium users, HomeZada offers maintenance tips and reminders that can be pre-populated based on where in the country or world a person lives, including a whole list just for people with pools.
“It’s also important to use HomeZada before starting a home improvement project because 50 percent of projects go over budget,” said Dodson.
The system pre-populates the top 50 home improvement projects, including kitchens and bathrooms, and lists things to consider.
“People think about tile, floors, countertops, cabinets and appliances when they’re redoing their kitchen,” said Dodson. “They forget about garbage disposals, faucets, grout and backsplashes; those little things that add up.
“You can use HomeZada to take photos of home inventory or while shopping for a project,” she continued. “You can grab photos online and drag them into your account or you can be out and about and take photos of things while shopping.”
Users may comparison shop inside the system, though specific retailers aren’t suggested because people live near different vendors.
“We don’t want to restrict local vendors or interior designers,” Dodson said. “What it does is allow users to go online and highlight what they want as a wish list before going into a real store for comparison.”
If a project is planned for the future, users may set up a wish list or an in progress list to store everything in one location.
Since its formalized release in early 2012, HomeZada now has users all over the world.
“They’re using all facets of the application from the inventory to the maintenance to the home improvement projects — whatever resonates with them,” Dodson said. “They ease into solutions as they see fit.”
The bulk of HomeZada users are 30 to 50 years old, said Dodson.
“We’re seeing more first-time homebuyers who have embraced technology, but also because they don’t know what to do as first-time homebuyers,” she added. “The elderly are starting to catch on too.”
HomeZada is also available in a professional version for contractors, service providers, real estate agents and insurance agents
Dodson stressed HomeZada’s top of the line security solutions to protect customers, explaining, “We also use the same encryption banks use.”
Dodson said they’d like to see the business grow and add employees. “We are proud of our brand. We want to grow another company like we did with Meridian, where we provided jobs for people,” she said. “One of the reasons we’re going after investment opportunities and meeting with private equity firms is to provide jobs. Three people and other contractors we hire can only get us so far. We want really skilled people for all the work that’s to be done.”
Customers may sign up for free or premium service. Free includes home inventory tools and the photo app. Premium customers pay $5.95 a month to access home inventory, maintenance tips and reminders, dashboards and home improvement projects.
“We want to continue to add value to homeowners and want them to see value in HomeZada,” Dodson said. “You look at everything you manage online from friends and family on Facebook, to banking to healthcare. Everything you can manage online except your home and your home is usually your largest asset.”
For more information or to sign up visit homezada.com.