First off, what are my basic requirements for the hull? Is this a sail boat, a skiff, an ocean liner? Size/displacement?

Displacement hull – I’m not looking for a "go fast" craft. Slow, displacement speed is more my thing.

Powered hull – Not a sailor I’m afraid. I wouldn’t totally rule out the option for a steadying sail or "get home" rig, but it would be secondary to the engine. 

Draft – Shallow draft with good capabilities for coastal cruising. Limited air draft suitable for canal cruising.

Scantlings – Tough – it would be nice to be at least somewhat offshore capable, but that’s probably asking too much. Regardless, the ability to handle Chesapeake style waves, etc.

Size – Reasonable – not a palace. I have a wife and one child, so accommodations for 3 – guests will probably be infrequent and can survive on a foldout or the floor or something. Cost of moorings and handling is often driven by length, so probably 40′ max or so (build cost enters into this too).

Material – metal (steel) preferred for strength, durability and general upkeep issues. In my opinion, by the time you deal with encapsulation, etc. Of wood, you might as well deal with metal. Fiberglass is just a non-starter for me. Blisters, core rot, etc. And its just not a material that I know well and am comfortable with.

Other odds and ends – QUIET design, as possible. Keel cooling/limited/no through-hulls. Fuel efficient.