Long story short, make sure that if you contract the work out you know exactly what you are getting. We went through a reputable company and we were never told the work would be subcontracted out. Loooooong story short, we weren't pleased with all of their work. We basically paid for the equivalent of finish carpentry and got the equivalent of rough. Ultimately we paid only 1/3 of the quoted price. So in that respect we got a good deal. I rebuilt all the railings myself due to the poor workmanship and a few of the deck boards and other odds and ends. All materials ran me about $300 so not too bad. That's one pro of a deck, easily repairable.
Here's the part that will kick your butt, proper prep and staining. Don't just use a Home Depot stain, think you can slather it on and have good results. I let our deck weather for about 2 months so it would "dry out".
I used all products made by Defy Stain and am very pleased. First you use a deck cleaner followed by the Brightener. This fully cleans, removes all mill glaze, open the pores and balances the PH of the wood. Then after a few days it was staining time. From start to finish from cleaning to staining, I probably invested 12 hours of time. So this is much more time intensive than a concrete patio. For the first year the instructions say 1 light coat of stain. So next year when I stain again it will be much richer.
Would we do a deck again and are we happy, yes. BUT in hindsight I would have paid to have had someone do the concrete footers and I would have done it myself.
Here's some pictures.