They wanted it all: in-ground pool, deck, hot tub as well as their existing access to easy boating. But they had a small yard. Their backdoor was four feet above ground and their canal-side ground water and bulkhead ruled out installing an in-ground pool.

“We suggested that by saving them money with an above-ground pool — which we could do for only a few thousand dollars — and put the pool savings into an expansive multi-level deck, we could incorporate the pool as well as the hot tub within it,” says Bill Renter. “The homeowners had such a beautiful down-canal view, such a  creative deck design would allow them to enjoy being outdoors to the fullest.”

Although the pool appears entirely built-in, the base of the above-ground pool is, in fact, resting on the ground, just four feet below.

“Without a deck, their above-ground backdoor seemed to be a drawback, but we turned it into a positive. Now, they step out to not only a deck with barbecue/dining, hot tub and lounge areas, but also to a swimming pool,” says Bill. “In order to maximize their views of the canal when sitting in the spa, we took care in how we positioned the hot tub. Since a hot tub can be used all year long, this greatly extends their outdoor season.”

A key to multi-level decks, adds Bill, is designing space for different aspects of outdoor living — chaise lounge area, dining and outdoor kitchen, hot tub area and a pool-side where all the spaces are large enough for furniture and amenities, yet leave enough room to walk around.

It’s also important to create architectural interest,” says Bill. “One way we did this was with a radius deck sectio