When it comes to home design and improvement, one website reigns supreme. Since its debut in 2009, Houzz.com has grown impressively every year and now boasts over 2 million photos of everything from kitchens, to landscaping, to – you got it – swimming pools.
What is Houzz? It’s a website that allows home design professionals to showcase their best work via online portfolios, which homeowners can browse for ideas and inspiration. Users can save photos that grab their attention and, potentially, even contact a company to do the work. Packed with examples of great design, Houzz is a mandatory stop for anyone contemplating a major home improvement project.
In short, if you’re planning a new pool, you should be on Houzz.
Houzz vs Pinterest
Houzz is often compared to the social media giant Pinterest, but there are a few crucial differences. One, Houzz is more “wordy,” more detailed, and houses (houzzes?) information geared solely toward home improvement. And two, the Houzz social network has built-in features aimed at connecting homeowners with home improvement professionals. You can bet that any large pool builder has a presence on Houzz, complete with project photos and contact details.
That said, Pinterest has advantages of its own. For example, it’s better for saving random pictures you come across on the internet. In other words, this shouldn’t be an either/or choice. The sites complement each other nicely, and are both great tools for prospective pool owners.
If you haven’t gotten on Pinterest, check out our tutorial to get started. If you’re interested in seeing what Houzz has to offer, read on!
A “Houzz-to” Guide
If you’re familiar with Pinterest and other social media sites, getting started on Houzz will be second nature to you. If not, the following steps should get you going in no time.
Note: In addition to the website, Houzz also offers a mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices (including the Kindle). You can create your account on your computer or any of these platforms, then sign in on your other devices later.
1. Sign Up
The registration process for Houzz is so simple that it hardly warrants explanation. If you’re logged on to Facebook, you can simply sign in. Alternatively, you can create an account using an email address.
2. Create One or More Ideabooks
Ideabooks are simply collections of pictures (they’re equivalent to the Pin Boards on Pinterest). If you like, you can simply create one ideabook called “Pool Ideas” and move on to the next step. However, you may find it more helpful to create an ideabook for each area of pool design you’d like to explore. Here are a few examples:
- Freeform Pools
- Small Pools
- Baja Shelf
- Water Features
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Ideabooks are there to help you keep track of pictures that inspire you. The best organization is the one that reflects your thought process and helps you compare the different pool features you’re considering.
3. Start Collecting Pictures
Finding amazing swimming pool pictures on Houzz is easy. Just enter a pool-related keyword in the search bar at the top and see what pops up. Or, if you’re not sure where to begin, you can always start browsing the Pools & Spas category.
When you find a picture that inspires you, click the Save button and add it to an ideabook. You can also add a comment indicating what you like about the picture. Comments are great for keeping track of your own thoughts, as well as communicating your preferences with others (ie, your eventual pool builder).
4. Get Social (Optional)
Houzz also features the typical social media functions, such as the ability to follow other users, share images, and engage in conversations. While many users take advantage of these options, it’s not essential. You can get plenty of value out of Houzz just by using it to brainstorm ideas, even if you remain “anti-social.”
Finding a Pool Builder on Houzz
Okay, so Houzz is great for finding pool ideas, but what about pool builders? Can Houzz actually be an effective tool for locating the perfect builder for your pool project?
The answers is yes – with a few caveats.
Houzz’s Find a Pro button invites you to search for companies in your area, including pool and spa professionals. There are user reviews, certification badges, and design awards to help you narrow your search. Once you find a professional you’re interested in, you can easily click over to the company website or use the contact info listed on Houzz to get in touch.
But while the framework is definitely there, the actual information you need to make an informed decision can be lacking. Even with all the buzz surrounding Houzz, not all pool builders are using it. Your mileage may vary when searching for pool companies in your part of the country.
Also, customer reviews for pool professionals seem to be particularly scarce, and the reviews and composite ratings that are there should be taken with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that companies often encourage their happiest customers to leave feedback on sites like Houzz. As a result, they’re often more more akin to customer testimonials than critical reviews.
That said, there is no perfect tool for finding a pool professional online, and Houzz is as good an option as any. When you’re ready to move from ideas to action, you should search through multiple channels and make sure you thoroughly research the companies you’re considering. For this task, Houzz definitely belongs in your arsenal.