Like many across the country, the once-booming Northern Virginia remodeling market has hit a rough patch. And though Bob Benedict, president of Northwood Construction, in Sterling, says he hasn't had any potential clients back out of their scheduled projects, he has noticed that they seem to be in less of a hurry to break ground.

Benedict says that for several years when business was booming, his clients would sign contracts prior to making all their selections. He would put allowances in the budget for items such as countertops and cabinets, to keep jobs from being delayed by clients too busy to make all decisions right away.

Now, he says, “when we sign a contract, for the most part, we're fully specified.” Clients are telling him that they aren't in a hurry. Even when told that pushing back their decisions might delay their project's start, homeowners are willing to wait. Benedict thinks it could be that in the past, remodelers were so busy that homeowners felt pressured to immediately get on the schedule.

This causes a problem when an unforeseen circumstance delays a job. In the past, when a hole popped up in the schedule, Benedict could just move a job up. Now, since contracts have been slower to arrive, the company has worked off its backlog, so when a gap in the schedule occurs, “We don't necessarily have a job to fill the void very quickly,” he says.