The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Looking for a home remodeler? New and existing online services expand your options for finding help.

(Susan Gal for The Washington Post)
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Owning a home can be both a pleasure and a pain — the pain comes when you must repair, replace or renovate a room, an appliance or, worse, your air conditioning in the midst of a heat wave.

Angie’s List, one of the pioneers of online marketplaces to search for contractors and read consumer reviews, recently opted to change its platform and allow consumers to join for free. More than 10 million consumer reviews have been amassed on the site since Angie’s List started 21 years ago, but consumers were required to pay a membership fee to access the reviews.

Now Angie’s List offers three levels of membership: The green level is free and includes access to verified consumer reviews and a digital version of the company’s magazine. The silver level, at $24.99 annually, adds discounts, chat and email customer support, plus a “fair price guarantee” and a “service price guarantee.”

The gold level adds complaint resolution and customer support by phone. Additional services to be added to Angie’s List include tools for project pricing, scheduling and financing; a handyman chat line; a home emergency service line; instant hiring; and e-commerce savings. Angie’s List has a free mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

The D.C. area has new competition for Angie’s List: ServiceWhale, an online marketplace active in New York City and Philadelphia, recently expanded to Washington, Boston, Oklahoma City and Denver.

What to do when your home-renovation dream turns into a nightmare

ServiceWhale users enter their Zip code, answer a few questions and receive instant customized quotes from local contractors. Homeowners can compare the offers from these prescreened contractors, negotiate with the contractors and enter a desired budget for their project.

A concierge service guides homeowners through the process with a real-time chat online.

ServiceWhale also has financing options that consumers can apply for through the site with an automated estimate of monthly payments.

ServiceWhale provides a price guarantee and has a free mobile app for Apple and Android devices.

For more information, visit and

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