Building a deck close to ground near home

Hi everyone,
I've always loved the look of a deck, but my home of two years is on a concrete slab and the back door is ground level. I have a small 10x10 concrete patio outside the back door, but I'd love to build a deck instead of just laying more concrete, brick, or stone.
Something in my advantage is the yard going away from my house does slope down, so I'm thinking though the deck might need to be built up (maybe 6-8 inches) near the house it might have a 2 foot drop if made 20 feet into the yard. This will make it look more deck-like with a railing and steps going to the ground.
So -- near the house what can I use for footing? Also how high should I keep the wood off the patio so it won't rot? My goal is to keep the patio and use it as the first tier of a 2-3 tier deck. Here's a link to Deckplans.com and a project similar to the one I'm looking at: http://www.deckplans.com/gallerydetail.asp?deckIDf&TypeSearch2=Yes
Thanks for any thoughts, concerns, or things to look out for during such a project.
Alex.
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This varies in code by municipality, so check your local regulations, certainly.
According to what little I know, footings are generally recommended to be concrete and finished above grade level so that dirt and mulch would not ever get in direct contact with the wood. Evidently, even cedar will rot if moisture that cannot drain is left in contact with it.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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Indeed. Minimum footing depth varies a _lot_. From a foot in some places to >5' elsewhere.

Exactly. Ideally the concrete extends above the dirt, and is slightly slanted on the top so that a wooden post (in a U bracket) mounted on top won't capture water. But if the leverage the post may impose (tall posts) prevents that, make sure that the soil above the concrete/wood interface drains well, and still slope the top of the concrete.
If the wooden post has to extend into the ground, make sure that you put a few inches of gravel in the hole first, drop the post in, then pour a few inches of gravel, _then_ pour the concrete. This is so the butt end of the post will drain.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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No help from here, no concerns, just a few thoughts, like - thanks! I've got a very similar situation except mine would be about a foot at the start, and about 3 ft dropped at the outside. On top of that, to one side is a huge, cement septic tank complete with manhole covers and everything. I've been slowly, over time, pouring sections of concrete to make a patio out of it, but I'm disabled and that's taking me a LONG, long time! Maybe once a month I can manage to mix cement when I can get a nephew over to help out. As a result, I've been thinking about wood, but not quite sure what to do about it. Wood I can still handle, at least as far as a deck goes. There's already a 12' x 16' enclosed heatable but not heated porch there, but I really want some "outdoor" space. That stepped pattern really appeals to me because I think even a wheelchair could naviate them if need be. I have to use a wheelchair for the most part, but I can still use my legs for short periods of time, so even if it was me alone, I think I could still get the chair up those steps if they were small enough. What's really great would be not having the ramp, or just a small one, just for the chair, when/if it's needed. Plus, if it were done right, I can envision part of it being movable, to expose the septic if full, clear access should be needed, and have it hidden otherwise. Just notch-fasten it to the main deck.
Yeah, I know, too verbose; I'm just tired of being in the house.
FWIW,
Pop
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What are you using for the deck? Pressure treated is OK right on the concrete. There are also metla brackest that hold the 4 x 4 and anchoring to the footings. It keeps the wood an inch or so off the ground so it will not sit in water. As for footings, that will depend on the code where you live. It can vary from 12" in mild climates to over 48" in cooler climates.

If you have that much of a drop it may look OK. If it is flat, it may look kind of silly ionches off the ground. You also want to look at putting something (wire mesh type stuff) on the ground under the deck to discourage rodents making a home. Skunks, rabbits, like to live under low porches and decks. Did I mention snakes?
Look at the different woods available. Mahogany, Ipe, cypress, cedar, all look much nicer that presure reated. Coat it with Penofin Oil before you assemble it to seal the bottom. Given a choice, I'd opt for a nice patio, stepped if needed, and no maintenence every year or two.
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