Patience is a prerequisite that is non-negotiable. Remodeling or renovating a home is a process. If you have no or little patience, your life and all those around you will be a living "#?x".
Trust me on this one. At this point, you do not have enough information to determine if you should renovate, demo, or walk away. Unless you are Bill Gates or have a Rockefeller trust fund, you will want to know HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Call your local mortgage department. Ask for a list of reputable home inspectors. Yes, this will cost you a few hundred dollars but the information will be priceless.
Unfortunately there are contractors who may tell you they can "spot asbestos, mold, and rotted wood" a mile away and you do not need an inspection. Really? Ask your contractor if he/she has a state license inspector license number? Ask what lab he/she uses for analysis. Licensed inspectors disclose where the samples were submitted and who did the analysis.
Establishing a realistic budget is important to a successful renovation or remodel project. Do you really want this surprise to rear its ugly head after you sign a contract? And oh yeh, this would be a "change order" which triggers a contractor fee.
There is one more benefit to hiring a home inspector.
Should you need to get a loan for the renovation, permits and code compliance will be required by the bank. The mortgage department will send an inspector to your home before they approve your loan.
Critical issues are expensive to fix.
Don't buy your kitchen cafe curtains just yet.
Foundations and Basements. Structurally sound, no cracks, no evidence of water intrusion, proper insulation, able to withstand renovation changes. Sump-pump.
Mound or Holding Tank System. Code compliance - huge issue. Private or shared. Malfunction and wet areas outside. A holding tank requires pumping at $120. per pumping. Budget, budget, budget.
Well. If this house is on an old farm, be prepared for old wells covered by sidewalks that were not filled but just covered with plywood and covered with topsoil and grass. Test water quality, water flow, age of pump, and electric to pump. Private or shared.
Exterior and Landscaping. Rotted, warped, and flawed siding and decorative trim from bugs or water. Old, cracked and uneven concrete. Steps, sidewalks, garage apron, garage floor. Old trees too close to house. Outdoor spigots. Lead paint, or asbestos siding and mold.
Windows. Old, single pane original or cheap windows that are not energy efficient, don't match, broken seals. Some rooms may have windows too small for egress compliance.
Roof. Sag in the roof. Roof vents that don't exist. Old unused chimney. Old TV antenna. How many roof layers are on the roof? Three may be the limit and that may be a problem for you if you are considering an addition. Is there a rubber roof on top of the porch? Flash? Drip edge? Asbestos materials.
Gutters and Downspouts. Do they exist, are they rusted and are there enough?
Porches and Decks. Old front porches typically have wood decks. Inspection of old wood porch support structure and top deck, steps, handrails, and guardrails.
Interior. Old plaster walls, wood paneling or other old covering. Ceiling cracks. Retain, repair, or replace.
Doors. Alignment, both interior and exterior doors. Do they match? Door knobs work? Weather sealed on exterior doors? Bathroom doors wide enough for handicap access. Is the swing direction awkward?
Floors. Old, unacceptable carpet. Old vinyl tiles or linoleum may be hidden under carpet and may be old with asbestos. Wood floor workmanship and condition. Uneven. Creaky.
Kitchen and Bath. Cabinets, counter tops, fixtures, range hood exhaust venting, mold, mildew, leaks, old plumbing, appliance and fixture condition.
Stairs. Width, tread and risers, handrails. Code compliance, comfort, condition, ability to move furniture to second floor.
Plumbing. Evidence of leaking pipes or old out of code pipes. Water drains. Sewer waste lines. Flush toilets. Can you hear water washing through walls? Hot water heater age. Vented properly.
Electric. Is electrical panel adequate for current house? Will it handle a renovated house electric needs with added modern appliances, computers, home offices, new garage, new addition? Outlets, light switches and ceiling fixtures in working condition. Ground fault circuit interrupters or breakers. Overhead or buried electric service.
Furnace and Air Conditioning. Adequate capacity and installation. Working condition status. Age. If house uses propane gas, inspect for gas leaks, proper appliance adapters, exhaust, cold air returns. Location of tank must be "x" feet from a structure or it must be moved.
Barns and Outbuildings. Asbestos, electric and plumbing code violations, roof, floors and hazardous materials.
Old Farm Landscapes. Buried gas tanks, old dump sites, old buildings with hazardous materials and buildings in flood plains.
I hope this helps and provides some food for thought!