For my son’s fifth birthday, my wife and I decided to check into an outdoor structure for him to play on. I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about this; I didn’t have one growing up, there are nice parks within a 15 minute drive, and he’s an only child at this point. On the other hand, I would love to build this for my son. There are plenty more pros and cons to weigh, but this story is more about the fact that we have…more or less…decided to build. The slight hesitation is a result of the costs that are piling up in my planning stages.
From the onset of our decision, I had found a set of plans from “Workbench Magazine” that I immediately fell in love with. It’s sturdy, not overwhelmingly big, and attractive.
The beam extending from the face of the building attaches to a footed post – this design does not require any buried structures.
I like this design for a few reasons. The large timbers used to build the supporting structure and beam for the swing set are very attractive to me. It reminds me of the Craftsman ideal in form and function. It is built to sustain some rough times, yet looks stylish too. The house perched atop the base is quaint. It could be a trick conjured by color – one that may lessen if another color were chosen. Whatever it is, I like the appearance of this little house topped with cedar shingles, painted a deep hue of red, and trimmed in white. The plans call for certain amenities; a slide, swings, sandbox. I have a tire swing I’ll use made to resemble a bull. I will probably add a swing, as it has enough room for both. The sandbox will stay too, but I will switch out the slide for a zip-line we got for him at Christmas. I still have to mitigate the safety concerns on that little accessory, but I think I can figure something out.
The major downside to this construction is that it requires level ground – something I have a total absence of. I could alter the design a bit and sink some concrete footings for posts into the ground, but leveling the ground is an added bonus for the rest of the family. I had thought to terrace my entire yard – the house itself is sitting on a 4’/1’ slope down the backyard. This is a step towards that dream if I choose to level off a play area. The other downsides have to do with material costs. The plans call for cedar shingles and all pressure-treated lumber. I’m considering alternatives, but not interested in doing so at the cost of rigidity or durability. If I’m going to spend upwards of $1000.00 on something like this, I want it to be around for a decade or more. For the record, I live in northeast Georgia. Even treated lumber can can fall prey to fungus, termites, and sun-bleaching around here. This will be my first exposure to MCQ and ACQ treated lumber. Perhaps these newer chemicals will resist the local concerns better than I’ve seen in the past.
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