How to: Start a house project

I've done a lot of things in my life. I've swam with dolphins, made bread from scratch, negotiated lower mechanic bills and briefly visited North Korea. Also, other things that qualify me to be a working professional in an office.

But, let me tell you... starting a house project is like trying to organize a pile of spaghetti. In my opinion at least. There is no clear way to start, every pile is different. And there is no manual for how to get started because ... they are all different. This problem held me up for quite a bit actually. I was really overwhelmed by where to begin. I knew what some of the major things were that needed to be fixed (septic, electrical, plumbing) - but I felt like I was missing the first real step.

This might be different for each home project - but the first step I made was meeting with some designers / architects. My hypothesis was that in order to do the electrical / plumbing / etc ... we need to know where they would be going. A designer / architect would help with that perceived first step. Here's the rough flow:
Step 1 - make some appointments
Step 2 - meet with them
Step 3 - look at quotes
Step 4 - meet with them again ... if you like them
Step 5 - write a check
I'll be honest. Getting to step 1 was the hardest part. I was lost on where to begin. This was going to be a chunk of my budget and how do you know you picked the right person? How do you know who to call at all? I lucked out a bit here and got all my referrals from 1 main source (my mom) but - if I had to do it again my approach might be a little more outgoing. Like a house in your neighborhood? Ask them if they've ever used an architect. Email businesses listed on Houzz. I ended up meeting a few people that I had seen on Houzz through other referrals.

So, Step 1. I got 5 referrals from different sources that my parents were affiliated with in one capacity or another (landscaper, neighbors, etc). Honestly, trying to make appointments with people weeded out two of them. They were just too hard to wrangle. If we couldn't easily connect on the phone or email coherently, then it was going to be a long painful process. No thank you.

The big thing to takeaway is that a meeting is not a contract. You can have a million meetings until you find the right fit. But you won't make any progress until you bite the bullet and have that first one.

I'll continue Step 2, 3, 4, and finally 5 in an upcoming post on "why I hired my designer". 

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