When it comes to remodeling, Americans are thinking small. It's a reflection of the times we live in, according to Sal Alfano, editorial director of Remodeling magazine, a trade journal that each year conducts an extensive study of the typical costs of home-remodeling jobs, compared to ballpark estimates of how much of those expenditures homeowners would recoup at sale time. The short version: Economic realities have generally snuffed out over-the-top kitchen remodels and room additions in favor of more modest jobs, said Alfano, whose magazine has conducted its "Cost vs. Value" survey of contractors and real estate agents since 1988. In broadest terms, the average return on investment of a remodeling project this past year at sale time was 60 percent, vs. 63.8 percent last year, Alfano said. (He noted, however, that the magazine introduced a number of small-scale projects into the mix this year in order to reflect what's happening in the marketplace, and those skew...
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