There are actually a few great plain old WordPress themes to build on. What you want to look for in a plain old theme is semantically correct, W3C valid XTHML markup that goes into each template based PHP file, and the accompanying external CSS file of course.
I’ll let you all Google for great themes, but I suggest the one at plaintxt.org. That theme is called the sandbox, and besides being highly configurable, it is a gem if you want to learn about PHP and CSS. Simply viewing the source code, which is highly commented, you can learn tons of great tips and techniques.
To cut on the costs you can also go for cheap web hosting to launch a site. The netfirms like startlogic bring you with advanced site designs and ways to get your website made. The best domain host companies can also be contacted in order to register the name and address of your site in accordance with your choice. The linux shared hosting is another plan of action you can go for in order to get your site hosted.