- Former executives from Casper and Rent the Runway teamed up to create Block, a company that tackles the nightmare of home renovation.
- By coordinating every aspect of a remodel from start to finish, the company hopes to save homeowners time, money, and effort.
- Block’s first phase is limited to bathroom renovations, but it plans to expand into other areas, including kitchens.
- The company said its packages cost around 25% less than the New York average, while delivering magazine-worthy results.
Anyone who’s renovated a home knows it can be a nightmare. Pipes tend to burst, budgets run over, and workers occasionally run out on an unfinished project.
By far one of the worst elements is coordinating the endeavour from start to finish. Between securing the necessary permits, hiring an architect, and teaming up with a contractor, the process is almost always an uphill climb.
Then there’s the cost to consider: A recent study from the home renovation network Porch found that, on average, homeowners save for six months to finance a renovation. Those earning $US50,000 a year tend to set aside 10% of their income – and that’s assuming a job will go according to plan.
In New York City, that’s often not the case. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs found that residents issued $US1.5 million in fines, and more than 1,100 complaints, against contractors in 2017 alone.
Solving a home renovation nightmare
For Koda Wang, the former chief customer officer at Rent the Runway, the process seemed “bewildering.”
“Homeowners are facing a super-expensive, high-stakes, irreversible decision when they finance a renovation,” he told Business Insider.
His new company, Block, aims to simplify the renovation process by handling each step and reducing the amount of time and money it takes to perform a remodel.
Wang’s co-founder, Luke Sherwin, is part of the five-person team that created Casper, the online mattress company that’s now valued at around $US750 million.
As a native New Yorker, Sherwin grew up watching his father renovate old brownstones in Brooklyn. While other kids were being gifted with piano lessons, Sherwin was being handed a set of tools.
Whereas his father aimed to make spaces more valuable, Sherwin hopes to make them more usable as well.
Block’s goal, he said, is to make the kind of high-end designs often found in magazines accessible to the average homeowner.
Block cuts back on expenses
Though home renovation isn’t as sexy of a problem as Sherwin and Wang are used to tackling, they find the project to be incredibly worthwhile.
“You talk to homeowners and they have been saving for years to do these renovations,” Wang said. “It’s their one shot.”
For its first phase, Block has limited its offerings to bathroom renovations, but plans to expand into other areas, including kitchens, flooring, and painting.
“We stayed laser-focused on promises we could keep,” Sherwin said.
For now, the service will be available to residents in the greater New York and northern New Jersey areas.
While the average bathroom remodel costs around $US10,000, Wang said the cost could rise to $US60,000 or more after hiring a designer or architect. If all goes well, a typical bathroom could be ready in about four and a half weeks.
Block’s renovations start at $US15,000, including the design, drawings, raw materials, fixtures, and construction labour. For those who want to customise their designs, the website features an online tool that can estimate your renovation costs in less than five minutes.
The company said its packages are around 25% less than the New York average. By streamlining the process, Sherwin and Wang think they can save homeowners an average of $US10,000, along with three-to-six weeks of construction time and 40 hours of their own personal time.
“The price point is a little bit lower than the New York average, but we’re delivering value that is far higher,” Koda said.
A huge part of that value is avoiding a home renovation experience that Sherwin likens to “open-heart surgery.”
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