Home Depot Backs 3-D Modeling App – The Wall Street Journal

Home Depot Backs 3-D Modeling App – The Wall Street Journal

Tomio Geron

January 29, 2018


Homeowners looking to put on a new roof usually must get a rough estimate, often after someone climbs up to measure it.

But startup Hover’s app enables homeowners or contractors to use photos of a house to create a 3-D digital model measured to scale, including data on the precise size of a roof, or siding on a house.

San Francisco-based Hover has raised $25 million for its photo contractor service led by Alphabet’s GV, with participation by Home Depot Inc., and roofing company Standard Industries. The company has raised $62 million in total. Tyson Clark of GV is joining Hover’s board.

The measurements Hover generates give homeowners confidence that their estimate is fair and makes them more likely to buy, says Kelly Barrett, a Home Depot executive. “That’s the power of the Hover tool—that visualization gives really strong confidence that it will look good when we do the actual installation,” she said.

The app, launched in 2016, shows how a house would look with different styles of roofing or siding materials, or event painting and windows.

“What we’re doing is bringing transparency,” said Hover Chief Executive and founder A.J. Altman. “Today what consumers do with their house is a little like how they bought a car 30 years ago.”

Standard Industries’ network of contractors uses Hover to make estimates on roofing, said Kathleen Reiland, Standard Industries’ head of mergers and acquisitions. Home Depot’s sales consultants also use Hover to make estimates on siding that it sells.

In addition to contractors and homeowners, insurance providers use Hover. When a home insurance claim is made, providers use Hover to get a quick estimate of a roofing project without having to send someone out to measure or inspect. Insurers also use Hover for underwriting and new policies, Mr. Altman said.

Mr. Altman is a former Intel Corp. engineer who joined the U.S. Marines after 9/11. After returning from the service, he came across photogrammetry–the idea of turning 2D images into 3-D images. He originally aimed to use aerial photos to build a “virtual version of the world”, but eventually, with the help of Hover Chairman Ross Hangebrauck, he focused on using photos from a mobile device.