building a forum from scratch?

I’ve been contemplating creating a forum of my own that would concentrate on What I’ve determined to be positive constructive reinforcement and maintenance of humanism.
This being a highbrow definition of gathering all the joys of life and the positive energy of foreword thinking people. This would not be a debate site where the ideology, bigotry or hatred would define those who attend, but where people would be defined by their Esthetic abilities in art, music dance as well as new concepts that those people have determined would be of benefit to the community.
That which separates us, as far as ideology and theology might be allowed, but only as far as their observable benefit to society could be measured. None of this hokus pokus B.S. that have been pulled out in so many occasions to fill in the blanks, where reality is left wanting.
I want it to be for people to come and have every available tool that a forum can have to let them express themselves, their goals and idea, without the nastiness that I’ve seen in so many other forum. I detest the idea that some would degrade and ridicule the lives and works of others without have a viable solution ready for contemplation.
I was thinking that there might be a way that members could have the ability to keep their work invisible to the other member, except for the staff, so they can create and modify at their leisure, without other members commenting on their work until they are ready to display it. That way they could change their mind and their focus, without having to explain these things to others. Also, long posts would not be broken up by comments from member, if these posts where a long story or history. The staff would always be ready to quash illegal activity within these hidden posts, so we wouldn’t paradise the rest of our members by accommodating morons.
What I need from everyone is an open, honest and mature suggestions about what server I need. What software would be optimal to use. What safeguards I need to put in place and the memory and bandwidth that I would need to accommodate pictures, videos and the like, without slowing down the site to a crawl.
My budget will be at the most $800 a month, but would really prefer to keep it around $400 a month to begin with.
Software budget is $800 - $1000
Thank you for your indulgence.

Wish I could help, but I’m not involved in the back-end of this forum software. All I know is that it’s a module in CFI’s ExpressionEngine software bundle, so I don’t think it’s available separately, and I have no idea how it’s budgeted, or bandwidth, etc. I do know that many large organizations use vBulletin software for forums.

Why in the world would you build something from scratch? There are tons of free and near free solutions available, some that dougsmith mentioned. I’ve had luck with websites, though not forums, using weebly, there’s also wordpress, bluehost, 1&1, and the list goes on. Try something like that, save your money, and if you end up creating a large enough community THEN spend some money. And if you need graphics, well there are free resources for those too.