This Startup Is Going To Finally Make Home Renos Easy
Block is changing the game.
Oh home renovations... How we love and hate you at the same time. While totally changing up a bathroom can be incredible once finished, it's impossible to ignore what a headache the rest of the process is. From dealing with contractors, wait times, and hidden costs, it's rare to find someone who actually enjoyed their reno. That's why Luke Sherwin and Koda Wang, former execs of Rent The Runway, Casper, and Huffpost, decided to do something about it.
Instead of a homeowner having to navigate the hiring and execution of a project, the duo decided to create a company that would offer an all-inclusive renovation package with transparent pricing. Bringing together architect-grade design, premium fixtures, and construction labor by experienced contractors, Block aims to take the uncertainty and stress out of the process.
While the company is starting up by offering packages for bathroom renos in the New York and New Jersey markets (at rates that are 25% less than the region's average!), it plans to expand even further. We asked the co-founders to share how Block intends to change the game and what's next for this young startup.
Lonny: What first inspired you to start Block?
Luke Sherwin & Koda Wang: We both have an interest in simplifying people’s experience with complicated things. We also come from modern consumer companies (Casper, HuffPost, and Rent the Runway) and were struck by how convoluted the whole general contracting and renovation market was.
Homeowners face uncertain timelines, unreliable costs, and unpredictable outcomes for every renovation. When renovating a bathroom, homeowners have to coordinate with architects/designers, contractors, plumbers, electricians, and various approvals. We created Block to provide a single streamlined, all-inclusive alternative to this — we offer beautiful architect grade renovation packages that you can customize and that can be built without interruption.
What were some of the issues of a typical renovation that Block hopes to eliminate?
LS & KW: We’re solving most for the uncertainty that homeowners feel when beginning their renovation journey around design, price, and timeline — we worked tirelessly to provide a model that gives upfront estimates on cost and price, as well as architect-grade design that would be inaccessible to the vast majority of homeowners.
Today’s consumer has higher expectations — products have to be packaged cleanly, projects completed efficiently, and with a high level of transparency. If given the traditional way of renovating, a lot of people may forgo it entirely. Block is here to change that experience. Customers deserve to have complete clarity of what they’re getting, how much it's going to cost, and how much time it will take. That’s why we created Block.
How are you able to cut down on costs with your packages?
LS & KW: We’re able to cut down on costs by cutting down on inefficiency in renovation (cost, labor, wasted materials, and dead time). Because we’re laser-focused on bathrooms, we buy material in bulk and develop deeper relationships with vendors which in turn benefits our customers. We also build software that allows us to do renovation planning, draft drawings, and procurement schedules in a small fraction of the normal time.
Do your packages offer much flexibility for more creative designs or does it take a standard approach to each reno?
LS & KW: We offer packages our customers can choose from and the ability to customize with an in-house designer. Our customers start the process by browsing available designs on our site and can collaborate to adjust specific items from our procurement library. Our philosophy is that our base design systems are like a palette that a customer can play with - like a chipotle menu, there are thousands of combinations.
How do you hope to expand Block in the next few years?
LS & KW: We’re focusing on bathroom renovations in our starting markets, New York and New Jersey, and have plans to expand to other markets in the future and other renovations, including kitchens, flooring, and painting.
Is there anything else we should know about Block?
LS & KW: We think of contractors as our customers too — when we founded our company, we started all of our design work with both builders and architects in the room. Once the renovation platform humming, we hope to be providing contractors with consistent jobs with predictable designs and materials.