Building your dream eco-friendly home can take a long time, the founders say. A new app gives renovators the keys to energy efficiency
Kingston, New York – sSustainability shouldn’t just be a plus for new or renovating homebuyers, Brad Gunsmeier said, noting that recent improvements in technology make important upgrades to items like insulation, water heaters and solar features more financially accessible — but not always easier to achieve in life. Everyday person.
“It’s gotten to the point where not including sustainability is almost a bad decision,” Gunsmeyer said. Native Kansan and co-founder of the startup Eco Home. “It’s a little expensive up front, but those costs are going down all the time. So your monthly operating costs — your heating bill, your electric bill, your water bill — will all go down.”
“Homebuyers increasingly expect these types of features in a home,” he added.
The problem, he said: Most people don’t know how to deal with the technical complexities associated with modifying a home with sustainable, environmentally friendly upgrades.
“We realized that there was a real mismatch between the information available to homeowners who wanted to build something or do a construction project and the people who would actually be doing those construction projects for them,” Gunsmeier explained. “The contractor or architect has a tremendous amount of information that homeowners don’t know unless they’ve been there before.”
He noted that the information gap is becoming more important when it comes to green homes and high-performance homes.
EcoHome – launched by Johnsmeyer Fellow Jayhawk Thad Allender – Serves as a roadmap app for homeowners that connects sustainability with home improvement, providing them with the tools and resources needed for a successful renovation project while helping them reduce their carbon footprint.
“We realize there’s a huge opportunity to really help the environment and do things for the world, but also make your home healthier and less expensive to run, as well as having a better experience in your home,” Gunsmeier said.
Click here To explore how an application project diagram works.
A journey to smarter designs
University of Kansas alumni Gunsmeyer and co-founder Allender didn’t know each other while growing up in Kansas, but met through mutual friends in New York. They connected, in part, because of their shared experience renovating homes and tech spaces. Johnsmeyer worked at Google for 15 years, and Allender founded two previous tech startups, including a website builder for photographers and artists that was acquired.
Over the past decade, they have both completed significant construction projects on their homes, said Gunsmeyer, who currently lives in a house built in 1887. He has renovated four homes and Allender has built three in the past eight years.
Many of their friends moved upstate from New York City during the pandemic; Buying older homes or building homes, noted Allender, who served as his own contractor on the most recent build of his own negativity-inspired home.
Because of their experience in home renovations, Allender and Gunsmeyer found themselves answering a lot of questions about the process.
“So we said: Let’s build something that helps answer the questions all our friends were asking — and all the other homeowners were asking — and also add a green component,” Allender recalls.
He stressed that the application represents an opportunity for people to significantly improve energy efficiency.
“I’m really excited to help people on this journey,” Allender said. “If we can help people do smarter renovations that go smoothly and aren’t full of those nightmare stories you hear, I’ll be really thrilled.”
It starts in our homes
The EcoHome app — created by Allender and Johnsmeyer — provides homeowners with a project blueprint that allows them to estimate construction costs, explore design options through AI, budget, chat with experts, as well as connect with vetted contractors and architects.
For example, if a homeowner wants to do a kitchen renovation, Allender said, they can enter specific details about the project into the app. The EcoHome app offers a calculator that takes the square footage, quality level, and other parameters and creates a quick advance estimate of the project cost.
“This kind of helps keep you in line with real market conditions,” he explained, “because we knew that homeowners had no idea what things really cost. We were kind of shocked. Then contractors would feel the pinch of questions like, ‘Why does it cost so much?’ And then they have to explain things. So we do all this education up front.
Through the app, homeowners can also request bids from appropriate contractors for the project they are doing, Allender noted. Contractors can then see the scope of work and decide whether they want to accept or decline the bidding opportunity.
“It all happens within the app,” he added. “This is usually a manual process and no one knows the moving pieces and how it works. Here, you can click a few buttons, find who you want to work with, and get an estimate.”
This also helps contractors and architects, as it can be difficult for them to make sure they are using their time wisely, Gunsmeyer said.
“If you have a homeowner who doesn’t really know what’s going on — through no fault of their own — it becomes very difficult for an architect or contractor to put together a proposal and spend all that time educating people.” to explain. “So there’s kind of a serendipitous connection that we think we can help with.”
“If you get really smart homeowners and then connect them with contractors, you save the contractors time and also help the homeowners find someone they can really trust to bring their vision to fruition,” Gunsmeier continued.
With each project on the app, homeowners also receive an environmental score that helps them understand the cost and value analysis of the project, Allender noted.
“It provides a measure of return on investment and then also an environmental score,” he added. “This is something that most homeowners don’t really think about.”
“We all have an important role in the future of the world, and reducing our individual energy consumption is really important,” Allender continued. “And this starts in our homes. There is a higher initial cost, but it pays off relatively quickly. So, the faster we can help homeowners solve this problem, hopefully we’ll get a lot of value and we can help educate them and then help contractors find work that helps improve the world.