A bi-level deck provides both a sunny, elevated dining area as well as a shady gathering spot. Working around two obstacles on the exterior of our split-entry home (the electric meter and the window) inspired the design.
Make a grid of your deck plans (here are mine). The major deck was planned to be 10' x 12' and the minor deck was 10' x 7'. I got the permit from the City of Minneapolis around the third week of April for the deck (and it was completed almost exactly three months later). The City needed these plans and explanation where it was in relation to the property lines before I could get the permit.