Here's how two remodelers are keeping their clients from walking away from doing a remodeling project:

Jonathan Mills, owner of Mills Builders, in Sacramento, Calif., says that he is focusing heavily on the idea of a master plan, with the most critical work beginning first. The master plan concept relieves the client's stress around "un-doing" work later when they move on to the next remodel. Mills has employed this approach on three or four jobs during the past year.

Mills also has been encouraging homeowners to go ahead with their project in phases. "Homeowners can build their shells now - generally a second-story addition - while construction costs are low, and can finish the work out later when they have time and resources. This obviously only works if we are adding space that will not have a deleterious effect on their daily lives while they await phase two, but there are a lot of projects that fit the bill."

On the other side of the country, in Pennsylvania, Craig Smyth, owner of Clemleddy Construction, in Hawley, said that several months ago his clients were "waiting for the election to be over and some sort of sign of stability. We did more design than ever before and virtually all of it was put on hold." 

Smyth recently decided to be proactive with clients for whom he designed a second home. He hired an illustrator to do a black-and-white rendering of the house, then reduced the illustration to a 5-by-8-inch greeting card. He recently mailed the card to the clients with these words written inside:  "We're thinking of you. Are you thinking of us? The team at Clemleddy Construction."  (As of this writing, he has not heard back from the client.)