I finally talked to my father about whether or not it was worth it to save my old, OMG-does-it-ever-need-work house. Here's his thoughts, should you be thinking of remodeling:
1. If you go by dollar value alone, it is never worth it to restore an old house. It will ALWAYS be over-budget. You make your decision based on emotion and nostalgia. Be honest when you make your plans.
2. No matter where you live, you've got to pay something- rent, mortgage, utilities, cost of repairs, etc. To determine if you can afford a remodel, calculate the cost of rent for one year. Doesn't matter if you are actually renting or not. Find the cheapest the house in your town and the most expensive house, then take the price between the two. This is what you would pay if you were renting. If the cost of repairs will exceed the cost of the 'rent' then you are wasting your money. If the cost of repairs is less, you're getting a good deal.
3. If you have a long, long list of things to do, start with water leaks as this can cost more money, and cause more damage, if not repaired. Next make floor/roof repairs, then broken windows and doors, then electrical. Why not electrical first? You can live without electricity. The house must be liveable first. It should keep you dry and safe. Every thing else is a luxury. Always, always, always use the least amount of electricity possible. Repair or place anything that drains power.
4. It is almost impossible to legally bring a house up to code. The building inspector knows this. Most of the time they will not condemn a house while people live in it. That being said, it is unwise to draw the inspector's attention. Don't call him until you have to. Don't make your neighbors jealous with a big addition or they will call the inspector.
5. There is no stopping point. There will always be something else to do. Sometimes as soon as you 'finish' the first thing you repaired will need additional maintenance.
6. Know your limits. If you only know a little bit about electrical then you have no business trying to rewire the house.
7. There's a difference between what needs to be done and what you can do. This ties in to both #5 and #6. If you think I am repeating myself, I am. You will encounter the same problems over and over. You will be forced to make the same decisions until you are sick of the issue. Then it will come up again in another form. The patch or replace questions applies to pipes, wiring, paint, plaster, fixtures, gardens, outbuildings, and décor. After you sink a pile of money into your house, you will be forced to patch/replace clothes, personal items, and your car because all your money will be tied up in the house.
8. If this is a headache, congratulations, you're a realist. Go sign the rental agreement.