NEW YORK - Getting more house for the money has been the perennial goal of young couples, and many of them may have achieved it - in a relatively unpublicized way.
The statistical evidence of the phenomenon is overwhelming. And visual proof also is available from a stroll through certain neighborhoods in almost every city and town in the nation.
First-home buyers have used the technique. So have homeowners who found ``move-up'' houses priced beyond reach. And so also have thousands of people who discovered that their own hands were the most useful tools ever made.
What all these people have done is enlarge existing homes to meet their needs rather than purchase larger homes. In so doing, some have saved more money than they ever could have accumulated in a savings account.
In many instances, additions exceed the original.
Statistics add documentation. In 1977, additions and alterations amounted to $14.2 billion nationwide; in 1987, the total exceeded $40 billion. In 1977, major replacement expenditures ran $5.7 billion, but triple that in 1987.
Between 1980 and 1986, according to the National Association of Home Builders, remodeling activity increased 117 percent, and often became the major occupation of companies that once considered themselves new-home builders.
One of the major factors in such activity is the soaring price of land, especially as a percentage of the total price.
Land accounted for only 11 percent of the total cost of a single-family home in 1949. …