Mine was put together when I bought it, so I can't comment on that part of it.
I had been looking for something like this, but couldn't justify a big green egg.
I was worried that, since this isn't ceramic, I would have trouble stabilizing the heat. Uh - not a problem.
I took off the lower vent after I bought it (it unscrews with 3 screws# and put a bead of fireplace caulk around the inside of the vent to seal against air leaks. It took 5 minutes.
Today I smoked my first Boston Butt. I put about 6 lbs. of charcoal and some hickory chips in the pan, and a foil pan full of apple juice on the deflector tray to humidify the butt, and catch the drippings. The deflector grill dowsn't come with, but you can buy a weber replacement grill for a 22 inch weber #about 15 bucks) and it fits perfectly.
I let the cooker get to about 175, then shut down the dampers to barely open. It actually held, steady, at 207 degrees. By the way, that is measured with a Maverick thermometer, not the dial gague, which is off by 50 degrees or so.
I actually had to open the vents a little, and it settled in at 230 degrees, no problem.
Prior to this, I have cooked a pizza on this, and grilled a steak at over 700 degrees.
Great build quality, and awesome heat control.