Hi Deadserious .........
A few quick answers to your questions:
Bank account - yes get one in a local bank. also be prepared to have some payments be in USD - for instance things ordered via internet etc.
Phone Number - yes get a local phone. definitely!
You can have a house built in 7 months, or 2 years --- the differences will be related to the house, the builder, the weather and your own interaction with the process.
The best experience will happen if you:
1. keep it simple
2. use tried and true construction methods
3. make decisions ahead of time and don't serve up changes on a routine basis
4. pay your bills ontime
6. pick your builder carefully
8. don't get attached to the details in some dream-image of how the house just has to be - it won't turn out like that regardless of where you have it built anyway so avoid the stress by adjusting your expectations to having a good house in a GREAT PLACE, for a good price in a decent length of time with only a few assorted disasters (all of which you can overcome).
9. buy contractor's insurance on the project
Sunrise's proposed services could be a great asset in this process - experienced eyes are very helpful.
Caveat --- there are no warranties on anything you buy in the US and ship here.
And about "simple" ---- that does not mean ugly and boxy - simple can be very beautiful if you have a good designer.
Get a good designer.
Budget - have access to about 20% more money than you think you will need. If you do that you will only be about 5% short of what you will really need. No joke. It's not about dishonest contractors - it's about that extra feature here, the fancy light fixture there, the rich color paint costing tons more than white --- it's always something and you just cannot predict it all. If you are lucky enough to come in on budget, you can have a party with the extra money. Not bad.