timmmay: On one hand $9K is very cheap if you have a good professional doing the work. On the other hand find someone charging $60/hr, provide all the content, a few days work might do it. A custom design/skin based on your requirements could take hours or days, sometimes one little thing you've asked for may make things a lot more time consuming. Buying a skin/theme would be cheaper, though I find the cheaper skins/themes sometimes need some work to get them right. For example the theme on my website does page names in a strange way, so every time I update I have to manually update the theme. I also tweak the html generated to make it more standards compliant, which is lost when updates are done.
Running on Wordpress makes things easier.
Totally agree re Wordpress. It's not as simple as it could/should be and can be oddly 'techie' when you are trying to do what appear to be simple things, but overall it is much easier than many and has heaps of useful add-ons such as Yoast for SEO etc.