Based on some helpful advice I got on TMP, I chose to develop my pirate town with a Spanish colonial feel. When it is done, the town will have an adobe church, a governor's mansion, a cantina, a Vauban fortress, a few houses, and some sheds. I thought I would start small by building a prototype house.
It could not have been easier. I cut some foamcore for the walls and some matte board for the roofs. The "tiles" are painted and drybrushed corduroy glued to the roof boards. I applied epoxy grout to the walls to simulate stucco. Some brown paint mixed in and a final drybrushing with white provided color. Them some balsa beams and painted cardstock shutters, and voila!
Total time: about 2 hours. Total cost: about $3 in materials. Not bad, says I.