­A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage … a deck attached to every home? If your idea of the American dream includes a home made for entertaining, ­why not build your own deck and make that dream a reality?

As outdoor entertainment and do-it-yourself home improvement projects have become more affordable and efficient, more and more plans and materials have become available for homemade deck building. From purchasing a deck product that can be assembled quickly to mapping out and designing your own plan, deck building has never been easier.

Many home supply stores offer the plans and equipment that you'll need to construct a sturdy deck. As long as you can use a tape measure and a circular saw while following directions, building your own deck can be more than just a dream!

­First, however, there are some questions you need to consider. Does your homeowners' insurance policy cover this sort of addition? Decks are often classified and covered under "other structures," but review your policy if you're not sure. What are the building codes in your hometown? There may be specific guidelines your deck design will need to follow. Lastly, consider how much time and experience you have to apply to a project like this.

For the handyman with more experience and the time and resources to build something from scratch, the deck possibilities are endless. In this article, we'll walk you through the process and help you carve out the plans and materials needed to add the beauty and fun of a deck to your own home.

Think about enjoying burgers and brats with the boys before the game, or hosting a birthday party for the kids on the deck you built yourself. This article will make that dream seem more like a possibility. We'll begin with construction plans -- and how to choose the right one.