The most common mistake in deck design is simply attaching a deck to fit an existing ledger board or replacing an exact copy of an old deck. This approach will limit your options and stifle the creative process. Home builders often add ledger boards and decks as an afterthought. It may not even be attached properly.
The house door will serve as the primary access to your deck. The position of your door will determine your decks initial elevation.
Low decks (less than 30" above grade) do not require guardrails. They look relatively squat and massive. The ground under a low deck will be concealed to view but can become a home for small animals or insects. Consider ventilation because the more a low deck can "breathe," the more mold- and mildew-resistant it will be.
Higher decks will appear more lightweight, like a floating platform. Guardrails will be required and long stretches of stairs are usually necessary. High decks offer an opportunity to showcase views of the surrounding landscape. The space underneath the deck is a great place for storage or a screened-in area for rainy days.
What kind of views do you have to work with - a breathtaking snow capped mountain peak or an ugly water tower? Spend some time in the space at different times of day to get an idea of what kind of day lighting you can expect. Do you have any trees that provide spotted shade? If not, you may want to incorporate a shade feature. Is your yard flat or sloping? Do you have a pool, patio, hot tub or garden?
A good design will accentuate the advantages of the site, whereas a poor design will bring attention to its flaws. The shape of your lot may affect the size and positioning of your deck. Landscaping, small trees, vents and AC Units can be adjusted if necessary. Sometimes large trees can be framed around your deck design, as well.