Today we actually made some progress.
After getting unexpected negative feedback from the city's plan reviewer last week, I have been trying since Monday to get him to acknowledge that he's judging our plans by the wrong criteria. Today, after no response in over 48 hours, I went over his head, which finally spurred him to admit that we don't need most of the things he had told us we needed to add to our plans. So now it's just a matter of confirming the three or four minor things that remain on the list and getting our designer to make the changes so we can resubmit the affected pages...and then waiting some more. But progress is progress, and this process has taught me to appreciate victories, no matter how small.
Over the weekend I had sent R some details to help him fill in the blanks on our plans (he's used to thoroughly fleshed out specifications, and given our rush through this process, we haven't picked out every option yet). Last night I revisited the plumbing fixture info I had given him and picked out specific items for each fixture, except for the bathtubs (Kohler has about a gazillion of them, which makes it hard to commit based on 2" pictures on their website). Anyway, I changed some of my earlier choices and am really happy with the direction we have taken. It's been too long since I've had pictures to share, so here's a picture of the sink we have picked out for the master bathroom. There will be two of them, and Steve's will be on a taller cabinet (he's really splashy).
(No, Mom, this is not a $75 sink.)
When I sent R the list of plumbing fixtures, I asked him if he could give us a sneak peek into his bid. He sent a few of the bids he has gotten from some of his subcontractors, and based on that (extremely limited) information, I think we're on track for his bid to be in line with the two we have already gotten. What's important here isn't so much that his bid be the lowest -- we doubt it will be -- but simply that his bid be within our reach, and since the other bids are pushing the limits, too much more would put R out of range. Everything we know about R suggests that his quality is far and away superior to the others, so we were bracing ourselves for his bid to reflect that. While we still need to see the big picture, for now it's a big relief to see that he's still in the running. And he expects to have our bid ready around the middle of next week.