So, I'm thinking of building a deck for my new home and really don't have the foggiest notion what I'm getting into. My original notion was to contract it out, and while I haven't gotten actual quotes yet, some online searching suggests this could cost as much as a new car! If so, maybe I'd better get handy and build it myself. And while I'm a smart, capable engineer, my expertise is photons, not lumber. I've little practical DIY experience. Do you have any suggestions for a getting a new deck, either by hiring out the design and labor, or self-built? Any affordable, home-design software I should look at? What about material? Composites seem like a good way to go for decking, but would double the cost. I've got a basic design in mind. It's over the walkout basement, so it will be about 9 feet above. But the grade slopes along the back of the house; I'll have to account for that. It would be an L-shape, along the entire back of the house. The left half would be 16' x 16' and the right half would be 8' x 16' (keeping it to typical lumber lengths). I'd have stairs in the middle coming down, parallel to the deck width, perhaps with a landing and a 180-deg bend, so as to not block the basement door or window. This is all very functional and relatively cost-effective, but lacks pizzaz. I'm not very pizzazy myself, but perhaps my deck should be. Any sassy design features I should consider? The purpose of this monstrosity is for grillin' and entertainin'. And to best enjoy the 3.4 days of summer we have in Rochester.