Our two-story Cape was built in 1944 with no heat upstairs and lousy insulation everywhere. The electrical service also needs to be updated, the bathrooms need serious renovations, and we have propane for heat and cooking. Finally, the house sits over a crawl space and the floors are cold. What fixes that? My question is - where do I start?
Carolyn, when renovating a home, there are several considerations when putting together a schedule for your planned improvements. The first issue is proper sequence, as there are some renovation items that may be dependent on other items already being done or might damage something you've already improved if done out of order. An example of the former might be installing a new furnace that can't be operated until the home's electrical service has been upgraded. An item that falls into the latter category might be installing new ceramic tile on the floor and walls of a bathroom and then deciding to put in a new tub or shower.
The second issue that can affect the order items are done in is budget. Some homeowners may have enough in savings to handle all the improvement projects they have planned and others might intend to take out a loan, but if you are a pay-as-you-go renovator, then available funds is almost surely going to dictate which projects you tackle. Adding insulation usually isn't too costly depending on the size of the house and where it's going, and upgrading the electric service might also be considered fairly budget-friendly. However, a bathroom renovation can be a little more costly - especially if major remodeling needs to be done.
My suggestion would be to talk to a local general contractor that has residential renovation experience. Discuss the improvements you would like done and after they look at your home, they should be able to offer recommendations on the order in which projects should be tackled and approximate costs. If you plan on doing any of the work yourself, let them know so their prices can be adjusted.
As far as the cold floors, you should be able to cure that by adding insulation to the crawl space. Fiberglass batts can be installed between the floor joists and spray foam is also an option. If you have ductwork or plumbing lines in the crawl space, installing fiberglass batts around the perimeter walls could be a better choice. Ask the contractor you discuss renovations with if any of the projects you have planned should be done before the insulation is installed.