Building a marketplace for prefab houses using “no code” tools

In the past, when you wanted to build a web app or tool, coding skills were a necessity.

Today, however, there are plenty of options available for those of us with more limited coding knowledge to find success. I’ve been using these so-called “no-code” tools for years and particularly love Zapier and Airtable.

A whole backend product (automated event planning) of Surf Office is built on Coda. It’s mind-blowing how you can create such complex things these days without programming skills.

Webflow has been on my radar for a while now and I finally had time to take a deep dive and test it out with a few projects.

At first glance, Webflow looks like just another drag&drop website builder, but it has almost unlimited options for customization (without requiring development skills) and its CMS is extremely powerful.

Building a marketplace with no-code

In one of my previous blog posts, I shared a story of how I built a coworking cabin.

My coworking cabin

After having the first prototype ready, my initial plan was to partner with a manufacturer to build these cabins on scale and rent them as vacation rentals.

While the plan of finding a manufacturer didn’t work out, the good news was, I discovered some intriguing patterns by interviewing about 20 people who were interested in buying a cabin.

Most of the people I talked to had already done some research and just wanted to buy any nice, reasonably-priced prefab house for themselves.

However, their main challenges with buying a prefab house were:

  1. Finding and comparing all of the available models
  2. Figuring out all of the administration work (i.e. permits, utility hookups, etc.)

As I already had quite a solid spreadsheet of manufacturers (150+) from around the world, I started to research if something like a marketplace for these homes existed.

I spent a couple of days doing keyword/competitor/content research in Ahrefs, and a friend of mine Mojmir helped with researching paid search keywords.

I also looked at keywords in Google Trends, subreddits, FB groups, and Twitter. The result were extremely promising: There’s a lot of demand but no solid marketplace/competition.

Staring with a super-niche

I started to explore Webflow to see how I could import my database to their CMS and how it could all bind together. I designed all the possible filters and categories for prefab houses and realized that it might take many months to deliver any sort of final product.

Confirmation bias from Twitter

So I started to think about what a minimum viable version might look like, with just one use case and no filters/categories yet.

And here it is: a collection of prefab backyard offices.

prefab backyard offices

I published the website last week and I haven't run any promotions yet aside from replying to a few tweets.

My plan now is to test the feedback and start playing with 1-2 of the easiest business models (I wrote down 12 in total). Then I’ll add more houses based on their use case (modern cabins, vacation rentals, etc.) and filters (shipping to [state], bathroom included, etc.).

Interested how is this project going to evolve? 

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Hey 👋 I'm Peter, nice to meet you.

I created the first coworking and coliving space for digital nomads. It went well until it didn't. We closed it and I started to focus on building a productized service for companies that organize offsites.

This one went better and together with an amazing team I work on it on daily basis. We built a solid booking channel for hotels, I talk about it quite often in the Hotel Nuggets newsletter.

Around 2019 I started to play with an idea of building a coworking cabin. My plan was to operate hundreds of them across Europe. Then Covid came to say hello and I pivoted this project into Epic Monday - a site full of resources for people who are planning to start a glamping business.

Once I'm passionate about something, I deep dive into the topic, run tons of experiments and sometimes come with monetization ideas (not always, unfortunately).

Hoodpicker started as simple survey, then I created a tool to compare neighborhoods in Lisbon and now it's a set of tools for people who want to invest into real estate in Portugal.

I constantly research ideas that combine hospitality, real estate and tech. And share them in my personal newsletter. You can subscribe now:

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I don't like to have calls but happy to discuss your project over Linkedin or Twitter chat.

PS: If you live in Amsterdam, we can meet at the next Cowork& session or Travel Massive meetup.

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