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Play structure for kids - buy or build?

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  • Jun 18th, 2019 10:51 am
[OP]
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
16644 posts
6897 upvotes

Play structure for kids - buy or build?

We are looking to get a play structure for our backyard. Part of me says "We should just build it" because that's what my parents did when we were kids. Another parts of me says "Buy the damn kit because they can make it cheaper than you and it'll be ready to assemble".

What are your thoughts? If buy do you have any recommendations?

I understand this will be a 5-10 year thing before it gets tore down. I see some on Kijiji for free but worry that if they were cheap ones it might not have weathered the best and I'm more worried about safety (being 5-6 feet in the air) than saving a couple bucks.
28 replies
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Feb 11, 2007
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Oakville
If it were me I would DIY with my kids so they can learn and have a feeling of accomplishment. If they're too young or you don't feel up for it, then you could still let them help as much as they can.
Deal Fanatic
Jun 11, 2005
8545 posts
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Mississauga
TrevorK wrote: We are looking to get a play structure for our backyard. Part of me says "We should just build it" because that's what my parents did when we were kids. Another parts of me says "Buy the damn kit because they can make it cheaper than you and it'll be ready to assemble".

What are your thoughts? If buy do you have any recommendations?

I understand this will be a 5-10 year thing before it gets tore down. I see some on Kijiji for free but worry that if they were cheap ones it might not have weathered the best and I'm more worried about safety (being 5-6 feet in the air) than saving a couple bucks.
If I was you I would compare the costs of building your own or purchasing one and decide if what works for you.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 29, 2011
6080 posts
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Mississauga
Many years ago we had one for our kids and it came in a kit. “Big Backyard” was the product name and we bought it at Costco for around $1100. All cedar construction and quite easy to assemble - once the base was done correctly.

No way did I have the skills or tools to build one myself.
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Dec 10, 2008
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Depends on what you're planning to build.

I've seen a few designs that would longer to get a materials list together than it would just to buy and build the thing.
Let's hug it out
Deal Addict
Jan 28, 2007
2277 posts
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SW Ontario
DIY forsure IF you have the time to do it ...
I'd rather be outdoors camping, kayaking, and mountain biking ...
Deal Addict
Mar 22, 2017
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West GTA
DIY. There are plenty of plans online, and it'd be a fun learning experience for you. Also saves a bunch of money.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
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Eastern Ontario
DIY for the fact you can customize
Kit for ease of use
Not sure if there would be any cost savings one way or the other

Full design & installation by professionals ... no doubt the costliest
But probably the quickest too
And sometimes
Time Saved / Less Hassle = Money Well Spent
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Dec 18, 2002
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Oakville
You should look at used too.
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Oct 18, 2004
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Wat
DIY.. it's fun to design and plan your own. Better quality since you can pick the materials.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
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London, On
I would do a kit. But I'm not asking because I know I don't have the skills to plan, design and safely build one from scratch. I'm assuming since you are asking, then you do possess those skills. So I think you should DIY and have a blast with it. Plus when planning it out yourself, you can make it big enough for you to use on those weekends when the kids are at grandmas, or scout camp or wherever lol
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Oct 15, 2007
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My philosophy is that if you are on the fence and have to ask what to do then you should buy
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again. - Andre Gide
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Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
I would have said DIY as an avid DIYer with contractor experience and every tool in existence. And then my neighbour with a similar background bought one at Costco and holy F it took a long time for 3 of us to put that damn thing together. A solid weekend and everything was cut and numbered.

So... if you want your kids to enjoy one this year, I’d buy one. If you are planning it out and starting it now DIY, your kids might be enjoying it next year this time.
[OP]
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2001
16644 posts
6897 upvotes
Thanks for all the opinions everyone!

DIY sounds really nice but time is of a concern with two kids. I'm surprised to see so much support for DIY - I'm going to look into it and see what it comes out to for time. I notice I can buy the slides and pieces at places like Lowes and Wayfair, so that's really good news. We built ours as kids from scratch but I have no idea if that was a better choice or just because 30 years ago you could not easily get the variety of kits you can today.

I really appreciate all the feedback and advice!
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9647 posts
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Paris
TrevorK wrote: Thanks for all the opinions everyone!

DIY sounds really nice but time is of a concern with two kids. I'm surprised to see so much support for DIY - I'm going to look into it and see what it comes out to for time. I notice I can buy the slides and pieces at places like Lowes and Wayfair, so that's really good news. We built ours as kids from scratch but I have no idea if that was a better choice or just because 30 years ago you could not easily get the variety of kits you can today.

I really appreciate all the feedback and advice!
Honestly I’d buy the thing... Add to it if/when required. We raised the roof and enclosed the bottom of the one my cousin gave to us for the cottage. Buying as parts for slides and such isn’t cheap either.
Deal Addict
Aug 10, 2013
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Toronto
Unless you’re a carpenter or very very skilled diy er u would purchase the ready made one
That way you know everything is secure , all parts provided, less headache etc
Deal Addict
Dec 14, 2011
1598 posts
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London
I did a combo with my kids. I bought a somewhat basic kit and then added to it. When looking (13 years) ago I found that the accessories alone were surprisingly costly (slide/swings/periscope). So I bought a fairly priced kit from Canadian Tire (on sale) that included the molded components and put it together in an afternoon. I then added another section DIY with a little clubhouse and a short rock climbing wall.
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Oct 12, 2007
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Ottawa
I built ours from PT lumber and cedar using countersunk galvanized stove bolts (countersunk because I didn't want kids to accidentally strike any protruding metal hardware). It was a tower with a ladder and a slide and two swings. The kids used the heck out of it for many many years. We had it in our backyard from 1997 to 2004 - since the kids weren't using it at the end, I offered it to a neighbour. In one afternoon, he disassembled and moved it and it stood in their yard for another 10 years. They added on to the structure and it was passed on to another family at that point.

Edited to add: I should have added that mine was self-designed and built. I used bolts instead of nails because bolts are typically stronger plus I knew that it would outlast my kids and wanted it to be re-used and bolts made for an easier disassembly. I enclosed it within a large pen and brought a few yards of sand - gave a place to play in the sand as well as a somewhat soft place for kids to land if they tripped or fell. This was the only part that I had to dispose of.
Last edited by CaptSmethwick on Jun 3rd, 2019 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mar 29, 2008
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We got a free one from a nice guy off kijiji who disassembled it for us (and refused to accept anything for it!), and we’ll try to give it away too - probably in the next year or two...
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Nov 16, 2011
1285 posts
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HAMILTON
There is nothing worse than committing to yourself, the kids and your wife to DIY it and then find yourself way over your head.
Unless you have good skills or are prepared to have an incomplete project in your yard, buy a premade.
Even some of those can be a challenge to put together and can pose a challenge to your marriage.

There are some on Kijiji but you had best hope for all the parts and some directions.

I just disassembled one and tossed it in a bin for disposal. That time of my life is over........

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