I also had a time constraint. I'd been unemployed for 14 1/2 months and had collapsed my life down to my vacation home at a ski resort. Once the lifts stop running in the spring, the sidewalks roll up. I didn't want to get stranded there for the summer and wanted to get back to salt water for May 1. I started house hunting in early October. I closed on my cottage in early December. I limited the scope of my first phase of remodeling to exclude anything on the exterior, bedrooms & bathroom. The scope was supposed to be move and open up walls in the kitchen, vault the kitchen & living room ceiling, hardwood floors in those sections, and install a new kitchen. I didn't anticipate that the first phase would include replacing forced hot air heat with forced hot water, complete do-over of domestic water and waste plumbing, or as much re-wiring as was done. I also didn't anticipate the amount of remedial carpentry that was needed on the 10x10 flat roof part of the cottage. I got in before Memorial Day rather than May 1 but the work got done. ...at 1.75x the original budget.
One side effect of this whole approach is that my property taxes are much lower than if I'd torn it down and built a new place. Even though I essentially have a brand new house, the town thinks I have an old shack. Repairs and remodeling the rooms one at a time hasn't changed the value of the structure very much even though the town appraiser has walked through a few times. My insurance company thinks my 992 square foot structure has a $225K replacement cost if it burned to the ground. The town thinks it's worth $90K. In a house I plan to retire in, that ends up being a lot of money that isn't taken from my retirement savings.