Here's the secret to hiring out work: Be clear about your project and then LISTEN when they explain it back to you. If they are picking up on what you're going for, that's your guy. If they are way off or pushing you into a directions that you're not comfortable with, they're not worth working with. You'll spend way too much time explaining your point of view and won't be happy with what you get.
Sure, hearing their recommendations as the experts is important. But, I'm the type of person who generally knows exactly what I want. Especially on this deck that I've been envisioning for the last three years.
Overall, the deck design is super simple: A large rectangle that's low enough to the ground that I don't need to incorporate railings. But on my wish list is a structure above the patio door that adds a little shade and some architectural prettiness to the back of the house.
Make it pretty!
Given the budget, I didn't think it was possible but everyone I talked to seemed pretty cool about it. It's simple and cheap to construct, so I'm pretty pleased about that.
Here's what I'm going for:
Just waiting on one more estimate, then it will be decision time!