Thanks for the advice Nick.
So far any bulk I buy has been from Ebay. But for a couple of bricks that are not in my collection, I then visit Bricklink.
The planning part, this might help...I am a design engineer for product development. Most projects get planned out. Yeah, it has its draw backs.
I'll give you a quick tip on building your city/town. It's difficult to build buildings and cars by planning them out and ordering the exact bricklink pieces you need. I had a pretty large collection of LEGOs (a 10 gallon tub almost full) from destroyed sets accumulated during my childhood and used these pieces to make the entire city you see on my page, minus the skyscrapers. Once I had organized the LEGOs by color, I found it very easy to pick a color, find some inspiration and ideas for the building, and just go with it. A few trials and errors would occur, I would try different styles, SNOT techniques, etc. until the building was satisfactory. Anyways, my point is, you can find some good deals on ebay for bulk mixed LEGOs. The price is often much cheaper then what the cost of all those parts would be on bricklink, mostly because there not organized or sorted, there parents selling there kids old toys off. If you can find a few good deals you can get quite a big stock for very cheap. Then a few hours of sorting yourself and you'll have a pretty big stock with which to build a city. Then, like I said, it becomes easy to just start building without any prior planning, and you don't feel as if you've wasted too much money on extra unneeded LEGO parts, and you dont have to plan out each individual detail (like a parking meter made of 5 seperate pieces) or make a million tiny seperate orders on bricklink. Anyways, don't wanna take up too much of your time. As for your fire engine, great start, I'm curious to see it once its finished (without those green shutters :P). Keep up the good work, and always enjoy it!