During November and December, I played with the footprint, stacking pots and cinderblocks to help myself imagine the space and the site lines.
At the recommendation of my neighbor directly across the street, I hired her next door neighbor, an experienced New England carpenter, to replace the exterior window frames on my house.
He and his wife (we'll call them J and M) showed me the garage they built behind their house and it looked all right. We talked about having him build my studio and he generously offered to provide me with recycled 2 x 4s at a small fee to remove the nails.
Again, I was acquainted with only a smattering of people in the area, had never built anything and was working with a bare bones budget. I had to start somewhere and trust somebody, so I decided to hire them to build my studio. It seemed like a good idea and in many ways, it was.
Why not hire a general contractor?! I figured that I was going to be on site every day and it seemed like a relatively simple project - and really was. Why increase the expense? How to find a contractor I could trust? With my carpenter neighbor, at least I was dealing with a more or less known quantity.