I'll soon be starting on a paver patio in my backyard and will do doing the planning this weekend. This is my first time building one and have some questions. My first question is about the depth to dig for the base. I've heard and read anything from 7" to 18". I live near Pittsburgh PA, so we get some pretty cold winters, and I was wondering if the base needs to be below the frost line. Also, we have clay, and not much topsoil. We also have a hill that will drain into our yard where the patio will be and was wondering if the amount of base stone/gravel will need o be greater because of this. Not only is there a hill running into where I will have the patio, but the patio will also need to be built into a small slope, ~6" from left to right. I've attached some pics. I'm most concerned about the base, and having all the jills makes me wonder if extra drainage is required around the patio...... Another question is about building stone/paver stairs. I'm not sure the best way to design these. Are they typically built on top of the patio block/paver, meaning build the patio first then build the steps on top, or is it best to build the step base and steps first, then build the patio up to the stairs? Also, if anyone can point me to a good resource for building the steps, I'd appreciate it. The only decent one I found was from Allen Block, but it was more a promo video than an actual step by step. I'm wanting to do steps, half-moon shaped. A small landing right out of the door, then a step down, then step onto the patio. Right now the ground is 20" below the door. Thanks to anyone for responses, I'm sure I'll have a lot more questions as I design and build the patio. I've also posted some photos, so any suggestions are welcome.