In 2012, we launched HonestBuildings.com and saw thousands of architects, engineers, and construction professionals join the site looking for a more efficient way to connect with owners in their decision-making processes. It was very early validation that the global $8 trillion dollar construction industry and the local $30 billion NYC market indeed lacks a central online exchange to connect talent with opportunities.
As we continued to build and refine our model, approach, technology, and place in the market, the team at Honest Buildings has worked with hundreds of real estate owners and developers.
We have been incredibly fortunate to work alongside many of the most forward-thinking owners and developers while originating over $580 million of construction project volume through our success-fee driven marketplace in 2013 and 2014.
Throughout the last 24 months, we have learned an incredible amount from these owners and every conversation continues to validate the need for technology solutions in this enormous industry yet also uncover the complexities of construction.
Listening and learning.
While working with the hundreds of owners using the Honest Buildings marketplace to search for new contractors, we did a lot of listening. We listened as owners showed us how they used email, PDFs, and Excel to compare “apples to apples” bids after sifting through pdfs, binders, or faxes full of bid revisions, exclusions and documents relating to the projects originated on Honest Buildings.
We leaned in when they showed the streams of intertwined communications with multiple bidders on concurrent projects housed in Outlook and text messages resulting in hefty change orders at the end of the project.
We observed how their teams spent hours looking at the department of buildings permit records to understand who has done work on properties nearby and to understand the workload of a contractor before entering into the contract.
And we listened when owners said that their teams a suffered when internal staffing changes (employees leaving), General Contractor changes, or Construction Manager missteps caused months of project delay.
Without centralized project communication, organized repositories for plans, specs, documents, and contracts, and a user experience to make them all usable, necessary details are lost in the vacuum of Outlook with no actionable system of record to rely upon.
A shifting vision.
Throughout these meetings, we continued to develop our public facing marketplace technology for the NYC building community, but we could feel the tide changing to a larger vision for this project. An idea that fundamentally changed the lives of forward-thinking owners and developers of real estate all over the world. A vision for an actual ecosystem of building developers, owners, and professionals leveraging technology to streamline operations, design and construction projects while generating data and intelligence about their projects that has never before been accessible.
In addition to supplying owners with additional access to vendors on the odd-job where they are short-staffed, these forward-thinking owners were asking Honest Buildings for better solutions. Solutions that allow them to focus their team’s valuable time and energy on truly impactful activities. These owners were asking Honest Buildings for better tools to centralize, manage, and track their portfolio of projects in real time in order to make important decisions quickly with analytical support.
Many of these owners are tired of the opaque, relationship-driven, the mediocrity that results from the commercial real estate industry being one of the last to adopt enterprise-grade technology and instead relying on thousand year old word-of-mouth customs.
These owners are asking to replace their outlook, excel and PDF processes with robust technology that can provide accountability and integrity. They are asking to have one centralized platform for their company’s data, pricing intelligence, and communications on each of their projects. Organized in an easy and intuitive way to change the way they think about procurement – from an administrative burden to an asset for their firm. And lastly, they asked for us to remove the success fee paid by the vendors as it would likely be passed through to the owner at the end of the day regardless.
Announcing Honest Buildings For Owners.
Over the last year, we at Honest Buildings have worked side by side in the trenches with the most forward-thinking real estate owners in NYC to launch Honest Buildings for Owners. This subscription-based platform provides the forward-thinking owners the world world-class tools for operations, design, and construction and eliminates the vendor paid a success fee to give owners full access to the HB platform without any additional costs. While we have completely upgraded our vendor search technology that powers the marketplace today. We have also built the developer toolkit to solve nearly all of the pain points we heard from our countless hours spent with the development community.
Honest Buildings for Owners is the solution that I wish I could have had to work for a large commercial real estate owner not too long ago. Honest Buildings for Owners is the solution that nearly all of the owners we have partnered with to date have said they wanted, and they would never go back to the “old way” of Outlook, Excel, PDFs, faxes, and random text messages.
This centralized platform that creates a new standard in operations, design and construction, only happened because it was truly built for owners by owners from the inside out. Honest Buildings is extraordinarily grateful to the hundreds of owners who have contributed to this partnership enabling the release the most powerful, insightful, data-driven procurement platform in the real estate industry. While this product was specifically designed for owners, asset managers, developers and investors, we included many of the smartest architects, general contractors, and construction managers in the product development process to insure it made their work lives more efficient. Many of them have asked to use the product for their project teams, the highest compliment.
Who you partner with matters, it matters a lot.
A special thanks to the teams at the Kushner Companies, Madison Realty Capital, WeWork, Equinox, Tishman Speyer, Related, SL Green, First Pioneer Properties, Equinox, Onyx Equities, The Rosen Group, ABS Properties, JMC Holdings, East River Partners, Cayuga Capital Management, Redsky Capital, Benchmark Realty, Megalith Capital, Cushman & Wakefield, and Heritage Equities for allowing us to spend so much time with you to make the product great. The HB team also has deep gratitude for our investors who share our vision and have provided so much of their time, input, and financial support.
Jared Kushner, CEO of Kushner Companies:
“For too long, the procurement process has been dominated by pen, paper, spreadsheets, and email. With critical information so scattered and disorganized, there was no way for owners to make sense of the vast amounts of potentially useful data and make sure that there was genuine accountability and integrity in bidding, Honest Buildings for Owners is an intuitive solution that brings order to the chaos. Whether it’s taking a look at portfolio-wide figures to spot trends or drilling down to specific assets or vendors, we now have data at our fingertips that we can harness in order to realize significant cost savings through smarter procurement decisions and enhanced workflow management.”
The $8 trillion global real estate operations, design, and construction community deserves technology that is second to none. It deserves to be empowered by a forward-thinking community of practitioners that care about making the world better. At Honest Buildings, we hope to play a small part in making this community hugely successful as the fabric of our cities depends on it. This industry is genuinely important to us because buildings are something each of us interact with every single day, and those buildings add up to the cities in which we live. It’s an industry with some of the most interesting, complex problems, and we need the best people and tools to solve them.