Tech

I’m a New Homeowner. An App Called Thumbtack Has Become a Lifesaver for Me


Never in my life did I think I’d own a home, but I was fortunate enough to close on my first house last fall. Yet as I moved into my new space—after nearly a decade of renting in New York City—I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Anything and everything that went wrong in the house was now the responsibility of my wife and I to solve. Is something wrong with the boiler? Find someone to fix it. Got water damage? Find someone to fix it, fast.

I’m a little handy around the house. I recently installed a smart thermostat and smart shades, I painted several rooms, and I successfully followed the California patch method to fix some holes in my drywall. Most of these experiences start with me watching several YouTube videos (HomeRenoVision is excellent). But there are a lot of jobs I just don’t feel comfortable doing myself. That’s where Thumbtack comes in.

Photograph: Julian Chokkattu

It’s like the Yellow Pages and Uber mixed into one app built for homeowners, where you can find and hire a professional in your area for nearly anything you need to do in your home. There are vendor reviews from other customers with photos of the completed work, plus you can chat with and book these experts through the app. Thumbtack as a company has been around for more than 15 years, so its database is enormous—there are 300,000 local professionals across the US. Best of all, the app is free; the company charges professionals a matchmaking fee, and it doesn’t place any pressure on you to pay them through its app.

Today, Thumbtack is unveiling a new version that evolves the app from a way to find home professionals into a project manager for your home. I’ve been playing around with the new update over the past week—it’s only rolling out for iPhone right now, with Android to come in a few months—but it’s already giving me a little more peace of mind.

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One Task at a Time

The previous owner of my house left several business cards and leaflets for plumbers, roof specialists, and the like in a few of the drawers. For some of the initial work I wanted help with, I tried Googling the details of these people as well as researching local handymen, but it was hard to get a sense of how much a project would cost if I hired them, and whether or not they’d be reliable. That’s when I remembered it was my home inspector who recommended Thumbtack.

Ever since then, I have used the app several times in the past few months. I’ve hired an electrician to install new outlets and my security cameras. I’ve had some folks come to move and install a washer and dryer, to recaulk baseboards, and even to mount a TV. Thumbtack is built for homeowners, but there are certainly a few things renters will find useful as well, like if you need help assembling furniture, mounting items, or moving.

The app does a great job of auto-filling my queries and pointing me to the terms industry professionals use. Thumbtack’s director of product, Alexis Baird, says the new update also leverages Meta’s Llama 2 large language models to better map your searches to professionals, who may use more precise terms and proper lingo in their profiles to showcase their expertise.

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