I know this ain't "this old house" but....

I need some home improvement ideas. Part of the problem I'm faced with is that I have so many things that should be done that I'm losing focus on the best way to accomplish the most important ones first. I find myself tackling the wrong projects first, usually because they are the easiest and provide the most direct evidence that something has been accomplished.
I'll post some links below to areas that really need to be fixed in my mind, but for some reason or another I can't find a reasonable way to resolve them. None of these are my doing, rather from the previous owner.
Basement stairway entrance.
http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/houseideas/websize/P7290014.JPG
Junction between crawlspace wall, foundation, and ceiling/floor
http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/houseideas/websize/P7290016.JPG
The most hazardous wiring job I've never wanted to see
http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/houseideas/websize/P7290017.JPG
http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/houseideas/websize/P7290018.JPG
Plumbing from bathroom. Supply lines punch through crawlspace wall, hook to bathroom, then punch back into the crawlspace to kitchen. Big pipe is septic tank line.
http://photos.imageevent.com/eigenvector/houseideas/websize/P7290019.JPG
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I'd make a list and come up with some way to prioritize them. For instance the plumbing photo; Are the pipes leaking or not working? If they are functioning okay then leave them until you redo a bathroom or kitchen. I'm not sure what is going on with that one electrical photo, but if there is a hazard there you should probably address that sooner than later. Is the house going to collapse if the walls are not taken care of? If not, then adjust their priority accordingly. If there are some things that you can't stand to look at every day then they should be moved up on the list.
You may find that doing one project may open up a can of worms in which other problems become apparent. Try to anticipate the unknown. While fixing the wiring you may find other electrical problems in the walls that cause you to break open more than you planned. Generally speaking you should do all the work inside of the walls and ceilings first and than put your final wall covering on.
I assume that you will be in this house for several years. Unless you have a bunch of money to pay contractors, you will need to learn to live with some things until they can be taken care.
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Without a doubt, the wiring. You don't want yourself our your work going up in smoke. Houses under construction/repair have to be near the top on fires. People who do things like that can create real hazards. If you have to ask maybe you should have an electrician examine it. Also having a good electrical system will make other projects easier and less risky than long extension cords.
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If those photos are the worst you have, then you are in pretty good shape. Really. Nothing in those photos is much to get terribly upset about.

Here is where I start to disagree with you. Definitely do the things that make you happiest. My overall advice is to do stop tearing your hair out, and just admit that your tastes are mor important than whatever imaginary "right" project. I'd reccommend, in this order: 1. Fix things that are dangerous (only the electrical could even possibly count here, but see below), or need immediate attention so they don't get drastically worse (things like a leaking roof, or a pipe fit to burst, of which you don't seem to have any). 2. Fix things that please you the most. Of all the projects I have done on our house (major renovations, structural repairs, complete rewiring and replumbing, etc.), most of which were planned out weeks or years in advance, discussed, re-planned, thought about endlessly, etc., the two we are most happy about are the nice garden gate in the back yard (2 hour project, on a whim), and refinishing the living room floor (weekend project, on a whim). We happen to go out that gate every day, several times a day, and it is so pleasing every time. For years we lived with this crappy piece of fence that had to be dragged out of the way to get to the garden.Same with the carpet -- we put up with a ever-filthier, ever-dog-hairier, ever-more-unpleasant carpet in our living room because there were more pressing repairs, like adding outlets in a room we never use. So go for the stuff that will make you happy. 3. Lastly, do all those other little things that should be done for the sake of resale value, easy of maintenance, convenience, etc. All your photos seem to fall in this category (except maybe the electrical).

This looks entirely cosmetic. And its in a basement, right, or at least the entrance to the basement? Not exactly where your important visitors will be poking around. A friend of my wife's family has a kitchen that looks something like that. It has for at least 20 years. Just not on their priority list... but you should see the beautiful hand-painted kitchen floor.

Hard to tell, but that wall is just a divider wall in an unfinished space, right? And it doesnt quite reach the ceiling/floor? So what. If you are worried about mice getting through, then tack up some hardware cloth. Or if it is drafts, then put some insulation and tack up some drywall, plywood, or pressboard. You could even paint it white if it you like to match the rest of the wall. Only the mice and the plumber will ever see it.

Sorry, that doesn't even look dangerous. The first is impossible to see, except that the box has no cover, and the wires could use some more staples. Coverless boxes are pretty common, especially in a crawlspace. Stick a cover on to keep the mice and your fingers out. Tack up a few staples to neaten up that wire. Five minute job.
The second looks like a temporary / piecemeal lighting job for the crawlspace. Is that thing hardwired, or does it have a plug? The tape looks okay, and it seems to be stapled up fairly well. Is this thing ever turned on, or is it just for the occational repair of something down there? I'd probably just disconnect it and put in a simple ceramic socket instead. Thats like a 45 minute job, if you include picking out the supplies at the hardware store.

The don't look to be leaking. A hack job for sure -- all those crazy angles. But supply lines are forgiving in how you route them. I'd leave it alone until there is a pressing reason to change it -- a leak, or remodeling the bath or kitchen, or whatever -- then just tear out the part that you think is odd and put it in right.
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Top posted for ease of reading.
Thank you all very much for inputting here. You actually said what I didn't expect you to say, which is to take care of the hazards (obviously) then take care of the aesthetic stuff first.
Based on what I've read here I can take some of the information and run with it, make a list of what really bothers me and take it from there. I won't be doing the electrical myself, I simply don't trust myself sufficiently. So in that regard I just have to create a side-fund to use for the job. I can take care of the plumbing myself.

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I would fix things first which are a hazard to property or life. So I would say wiring first. If the stairs don't have a handrail or have slick steps, then this would be a slip and fall hazard. That would have a high priority too. Can't fix the wiring if you fall and hurt yourself...
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We moved into a "beater" row house in the 1980's.
Address the "clean" and basic liveability first !
Before moving in the furniture;
Paint every room. Scrub/clean everything not painted. Shampoo the carpets
After the furniture;
Trace/mark the electrical circuits Replace all the outlet sockets. Install a shower in the bathroom.
During the year; Have insulation blown in. Install storm windows Insulate hot-water pipes.
We lived there almost 15 years. It was like a full-time hobby for the first 10 years.
re; Power; Most homes built after the 1930's have adequate ( basic ) electrical circuits. Even "knob & tube" can be adequate for light duty.
And using modern compact flourescants reduces the load. The kitchen, with toaster, fridge, microwave, etc. may need a new circuit....
I wouldnt worry about grounded outlets either. Other than fridge,washer,gas-dryer.... almost no other household appliance uses a grounded plug.
re water; If you've got copper plumbing, you're OK If you've got iron pipe, you've got some replacing to do.
<rj>
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I've got some replacing to do.
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RJ,
That is the most "down to Earth" advice I have seen in a long time. Excellent post!
--
Colbyt
One picture can be worth a 1000 words.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Some good advice so far. Its impossible to tell from here if the wiring is dangerous or just not done to contemporary standards.
Given what I saw in your picture I would suspect you may have other issues as well that may not even be on your list at all.
Let me tell you a story - I worked with a family who wanted some help with a bathroom remodel (It really needed it). The scum on the tub would have taken a jackhammer to get off, the vanity was falling apart, the floor was rotted, tiles were falling off the wall. They wanted to put in a new tub, vanity and re-tile. Fine BUT, it it was a big BUT. One of the factors contributing to some of the problems were a leaky pipe and a leaky sky lite. The plumbing leak was fixed first. A new roof was installed and the sky lite removed. Oh, they also had a foot of water in the crawl space, leaky windows with no flashing, a concrete porch that was more like a swimming pool (Contributing to water getting in the house)
Anyway - They are still working on stableizing the house. A grungy bathroom can wait when there are major things that are eating away at your house.
So - if you need to, get a professional to walk through your entire house and help you with your list. You may be missing things. How is the roof? Water in crawl space or basement? Do you have peeling paint, rot or other damage that would get worse if not addressed? Before working down your list I would make sure its the right list. Just my 2c.
-B
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I do appreciate your input. I did have someone give a thorough walkthrough and basically all the major stuff is on hold until I can scrounge up the multi-thousands it will cost. The basics, I can squeeze them in with leftovers from the bills. I know of two major repairs that will cost me - upgrading the service to 200 A grounded and replacing all the windows with insulated ones.
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