HomeAdvisor works with Alexa to call the plumber for you when you need it


Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Many smart home devices are great at detecting when something goes wrong in your home, but many of them aren’t as good at doing something about it. HomeAdvisor, a free app with a growing list of collaborators, wants to change all of that. If your smart home finds a problem, HomeAdvisor will find the appropriate service person for you and have them call you.

HomeAdvisor started as essentially a filtered yellow pages. At CES 2016, the company announced three new integrations to help you find a vetted professional more easily.


The smart-home products of CES 2016 (pictures)

As far as the new integrations, first, your Amazon Echo can learn a skill allowing you to ask it to find an electrician. Alexa, the personality built-in to Echo, will even offer a number for you to call, based on the one most likely to be available the soonest. (She learned a whole repertoire of new tricks at this year’s show.)

Via the Apple TV, you can scroll through options on the big screen, book an appointment, and see the company’s typical costs for your job.

Monitored smart home systems

  • ADT Canopy
  • Lowe’s Iris
  • Scout

All of that is fine and could save you some tedium, but the true power of the app comes into play with smart home sensors. The third new integration, with Zonoff, will let Zonoff powered smart home systems start the process of finding a pro for you when it senses something wrong.

For example, if your system senses a leak, you’ll receive a notification as usual, and less than a minute later, a plumber from your area will call you. HomeAdvisor’s back end algorithm searches through the same options it would normally present to you, calls them for you, and once someone answers, sends you the call.

It’s unclear which exact smart home systems will work with HomeAdvisor, and that’s the main reason I’m tempering my excitement. Zonoff powers Staples Connect, but it’s unclear if all Zonoff systems will have this functionality.

The app, which will be available for iOS and Android, wasn’t ready for a live demo at CES tonight. But a representative promised it’ll be ready once the Apple and Amazon integrations are ready in a couple of months.

Without an actual demo or nameable smart home products, HomeAdvisor still has a ton to prove, but the concept of a smart home that can take an active step to help you when something goes wrong is cool enough that I’m hopeful if skeptical.

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Jane Gonzales

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