My first post to this forum! We are buying our first house, an 1875 brick rowhouse. The previous owner had been living in the house while gradually making repairs. We are lucky that he has already done a lot of the hard stuff.

However, almost the entire upstairs walls (around 450 square feet) and one long wall downstairs are still covered by this cheap white-ish plywood paneling. Based on what we have seen on the first floor of the home, we think the panelling was placed right over the studs (yikes) on one side of the house, over brick or thin drywall on the other side, and over drywall on the interior walls. We obviously want to tear this out and repair/replace/install drywall OR plaster. My parents, who have a lot of experience renovating old homes, are really pushing us to plaster the walls, but I've been looking and am having trouble finding someone in this area with experience actually plastering walls from scratch (not just repairing plaster). Drywall seems to be a lot more common

So a few questions:
-is plaster really that superior to drywall? Any tips on finding an experienced plasterer? I've been searching angie's list but mostly I've just found people who say they do plaster repairs

-How much dust is typically raised by this type of project? We have a baby on the way (will be here in 6 months), and we'd like to take care of stuff that will raise a lot of dust before he/she gets here

-We also need to put in central AC, although due to cost it may have to wait a year or two. Would it make sense to install the AC at the same time as we pull out the panelling in order to run the ducts more easily?

-Realistically, is drywall DIY-able for an inexperienced couple (we've never done anything more than paint)? Or do we really need a pro?

Thank you so much for any help! We are excited and intimidated by this whole process