Where do you even start when remodeling an older house?

Here is a list of things that need to be updated in an old house. My questions is how do you put them in order? Which ones should be done before the others? Some seem obvious, like do the landscaping last.

Kitchen Remodel

Bonus question – How much will all this cost? I have seen these remodels done on tv shows for budgets running $30k – 80k. How much in San Francisco area though?

1. Kitchen remodel (cabinets, counters, appliances, floors)

2. New siding

3. Install home security system

4. Window replacement throughout

5. Bathroom remodels

6. Living Room extension

7. New patio

8. New landscaping (lawn, shrubs, flower beds, sprinkler system)

9. Install recessed lighting and ceiling fixtures

10. New flooring and carpet throughout

Thanks for these great answers! Lots of great advice which I will save in my planning book. I wish I could give you all 10 points each.

The quotes we're getting in my area are so high! $9k for a small bathroom remodel, basic fixtures. $1k per each window (bedroom casement). Wish we could do more DIY but we work and have limited skills or family helpers with time/skills too.

I hate to bum you out, but I'm a professional construction estimator and scheduler and I have the most recent labor and material cost index book here on my desk. Reality check is that labor for remodeling costs 40% more in the San Francisco area than the average in the rest of the country. You would be lucky to get all that work done for less than $125,000. Just a kitchen remodel if you are hiring it all out could easily set you back $50,000.

i would recommend that you assess first how long you plan to stay in the house and what the value is of other houses in the neighborhood. If you invest more in the house than the average value in your neighborhood you will never get even a portion of it back when you sell. If money is tight, forgo the major costly projects like extending the living room. Window replacement will save you money on heating and cooling, and it tends to make a mess so have that done first.

Don;t let styling issues cause you to rip out perfectly functional bathrooms and kitchen components as long as they are clean and work well. Think hard about how much really NEEDS to be done and how much you are planning on changing just because you think it will be more stylish. Remember, what is stylish on the home shows this year will seem funky 5 years from now. Not all that long ago everybody on the home decor shows wanted laminate floors and white or cherry kitchen cabinets. Now those are considered dated. Keep it simple and only replace what is necessary and functional.

Bear in mind that old homes tend to have hidden issues like deteriorated plumbing and wiring, structural weaknesses and problems like asbestos, lead paint and water damage. Be sure you allow for a $10,000 to $20,000 reserve fund to deal with such things as they arise.

“Rehab Addict” on HGTV and the DIY channel is a good show to watch for anyone with a really old urban house. Contractor Nicole rehabs old homes in Minneapolis and she does a great job of reconditioning and saving existing components without the expense of ripping everything out.

Personally, I don't think recessed lighting should be high on your priorities. It tends to be costly in old houses and generally is not worth the expense. I note that few people actually use it much in their homes once they install it. Things like flooring, landscaping and fixture replacements are jobs you can learn to do yourself to save money.

Also, you will save thousands of $ and get much better results if you invest in a membership to Angie's List to find recommended contractors in your area. I have had tremendously good experiences with every contractor I have found through them while doing a number of remodels over the past year. Many offer coupons and specials and you can read first hand reports from customers on their services and pricing. I have gotten quotes for quality low-E replacement windows for under $400 each through people I found on there.

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