So many people have advised us to "just use" a contractor. I am very skeptical of this approach. Have you seen "Holmes on Homes" and all of the nightmares that come out of poorly done construction? Wow! It's enough to make you think twice before remodeling or building. Anyway I am a firm believer in doing it once and doing it right! Remember the old adage, " measure twice and cut once".
First of all, I am absolutely appalled by the number of people that you call and that they never call you back. What the heck is wrong with people? Looks like with the economy the way it is, people would be running to your door. Cold calls for architects is interesting, because some architects only do commercial, and some architects do new building, and I am specifically looking for someone that can work with "old" houses! Architects are good in that they will refer each other and even provide phone numbers.
I have spoken with two architects so far. One has provided references and those references have been favorable. Prompt responses and good references may be the tipping factor. Due to the fact that I am new to this process, I have been reading The Old-House Journal Compendium, edited by Clem Labine and Carolyn Flaherty. Everything I have read so far has advised on interviewing your architect as you would anyway you would hire for any job. Get references and meet in person to decide if this is someone that you could work with and someone that would work well with you. This is a give and take relationship, so unless you are willing to give someone carte blanche, have ideas beforehand. Get a portfolio of the things you need first and want second. I have been cutting pictures out of magazines for the right style. I am more the white cabinet, country sink kind of person. My husband is more the modern "Dwell" kind of person. Somewhere the two twains must meet!