I always prepare a starter with 30 grams of dry Yeast for 5 gallons of beer, as my homebrew supply store does not carry liquid yeast.
I use bulk extract, steep grains, and I also do everything loose (both steaping grains and hops)
Number one, you don't need to make a starter with dry yeast and 30 grams is a bit overkill. I pitch 11.5 grams for 5 Imp gallons when I use dry yeast and I don't rehydrate. I just pitch onto my cooled wort, fit cover with airlock and bingo.
Second, when you are steeping your grain, I assume you aren't boiling them and are keeping the steep at or just below 170f. Anything higher and you will extract tannins from the husk of the grain ( that I also assume you have crushed). Also when boiling your wort, do you boil for one hour with the hops for bittering and do you add flavor hops?
Third, I use bleach for cleaning my brewery equipment and I rinse well with HOT water to remove the taste/smell of chlorine. I sanitize with star-san everything that comes into contact with my brew post boil, right up to when I package it.
Fourth, keep your fermentation tempertures around 68f (not your actual ambient tempertures) for ales.
Good luck and good brewing and if you feel the need for good ole Canuck chat with some knowledgeable brewers from your general area, sign in to these two sites. http://www.bodensatz.com/forum/index.php
and keep brewing. it isn't hard to make good brew, it just takes time and patience and a little help from you friends.