Step 4: find contractors
When I was ready to start looking for sub-contractors, I felt lost. Like I said, we have made the decision to be our own general contractor, so this means we are responsible for hiring each trade.
So I started to do some research online, and couldn't find much advice other than "ask friends and family for recommendations." So I tried that - I talked to a co-worker and a neighbor, and turns out both of them used contractors who weren't licensed. What does that mean? It means they are people who work in the trade (and can probably get the job done at a good price) but there are risks. A licensed contractor has met certain industry training standards and is allowed to do the work in your area. In addition they are bonded - a guarantee that the contractor will perform the work as agreed - and insured for liability and worker's comp. You can read more info here on Angie's List.
And speaking of Angie's List, that is the first online resource I thought to look at. But you have to pay a fee to use the site, and I was feeling cheap, so I looked for other options. I figured there must be other online resources, like a Yelp for construction? (I did also search on Yelp.) Turns out I found a site called Home Advisor. It's free and simple to use - you can search by different trades, enter a description of your project and the approximate dates you need the work done. Then you get list of contractors in your area who match the job description. WARNING: you have to enter your name, address and phone number so you WILL get calls from local contractors. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing. :)
So those are the 4 basic steps to getting started. Now it's time to get to work hiring subs and the part I am most excited about - sourcing materials and fixtures! :)