This story was originally published in Remodeling.

The Q2 2019 Houzz Renovation Barometer, which tracks residential renovation market expectations, project backlogs, and recent activity among businesses in the construction industry, indicates industry professionals are optimistic about business activity in the second quarter. Project backlogs for construction professionals, architects, and designers are all far lower than they were in the second quarter of 2018.

The Renovation Barometer is based on a quarterly online survey sent to a national panel of businesses with an online profile on Houzz. The Barometer keeps a pulse on the market through its Expected Business Activity Index, Backlog Indicator Index, and Recent Business Activity Indicator Index.

In the construction sector, the Expected Business Activity Index related to project inquiries and new committed projects increased two points from the first quarter of 2019, while the Recent Business Activity Indicator Index remained unchanged. The Project Backlog Indicator increased slightly to 5.0 weeks nationally. However, the overall backlog for the construction sector is nearly 5 weeks less than the second quarter in 2018.

For architects and designers, the Expected Business Activity Indicator increased five points from the first quarter of the year, while the Recent Business Activity Indicator decreased two points from the previous quarter. Project backlogs for architects and designers remained steady at 4.7 weeks in the second quarter, more than 6 weeks smaller than at the start of the second quarter in 2018.

"This year's residential renovation activity is already looking very different to 2018," Houzz principal economist Nino Sitchinava said. "Professional sentiments for the first quarter were considerably more tempered and businesses are starting the second quarter with much shorter backlogs relative to a year ago."

Sitchinava said professionals attribute the slowdown to the unusually cold and wet weather conditions and consumer apprehension as a result of the government shutdown, tax refund uncertainty, and the high cost of materials. Despite these apprehensions, Sitchinava said many professionals have a positive outlook for the next three months. Many expect increased consumer demand for exteriors in particular as a result of heavy winter storms.

The Q2 2019 Houzz Renovation Barometer compiled answers from 2,065 Houzz users. The indices reported on a national level are also computed for the nine U.S. Census regions. The national indices are computed using industry subsector weights and regional weights derived from the 2016 U.S. Census Business Patterns survey.

This story was originally published in Remodeling.