Virginia resident overhauls basement at affordable cost

Virginia resident Anne Marie Borrego has been chronicling her home remodeling process for The Washington Post from start to finish. Borrego's primary goal is to remodel the basement of her 94-year-old Alexandria home. Following two years of renovations to the property, Borrego decided to tackle the room as she attempts to convert the basement into a guest room.

Although remodeling was delayed somewhat by a permitting process and major renovations to install and conceal a pump sump, Borrego has moved forward with the additions, including replacing a tiny basement window with one that allow more light into the room. This may allow Borrego to cut down on her energy use, even though energy-efficient CFL bulbs could be installed.

An additional challenge has been a structural problem that likely exists in many old homes – low doorways and ceilings. Borrego had wanted to raise the doorway, but she found out from her home inspection contractor that this would be impossible to do to the fact that the doorway is part of a retaining wall.

"If this was a design show on HGTV, I'm sure I could call in an engineer and have him do something fancy with support somewhere else," Borrego wrote last month. "But, let's face it – my budget is pretty fixed, and I don't have the money to monkey with this stuff. So, if you sleep over, just duck and get over it."

Experienced home inspectors can find cost-effective solutions to intricate problems with a property. Borrego also said she hired a contractor based on her familiarity with his work on the homes of her neighbors and because of his experience as a D.C. home inspector. Homeowners in the Washington area – whether they plan to sell or remodel their homes to improve energy efficiency – need to rely on a home inspection services they can trust.