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Illustration: Ellen Weinstein
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The Details

A few years ago, contractors could afford to choose only big-budget projects, but now they need smaller jobs to keep their crews busy. Take northern Virginia contractor Tom Wotton, for example. "Our typical job was a 1,000- to 2,000-square-foot addition, for $200,000 or more," he says. "Now it's a $50,000 kitchen renovation." Woodbury, New Jersey, contractor Jay Cipriani has dedicated a handful of his 21 staff tradesmen to "handyman jobs" with price tags of $15,000 or less.
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