Focus on good design and clever construction

Digging the holes for 22 concrete piers on steep and uneven terrain — the pitch was at least 12:12 — was time-consuming, says Tate Smith of Decks & More in Granbury, Texas. The Bobcat kept sliding down the hill, for one. But some 475 man hours later, the 1,500 square-foot multilevel cedar deck emerged from the lakeside, supported by 6-inch steel columns anchored to 4-foot concrete piers. The stone for the fire pit goes all the way to the ground — about 7 feet.

Photos by Tate Smith