7 Ways to Stay Within Budget When Building a Playground

Building playgrounds can be an exciting process, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to set up your very first one. That’s why it’s so important to have realistic expectations when budgeting your playground project. Building something that exceeds your budget won’t be worth it in the long run if it leaves you short of money for other projects. If you follow these seven tips, though, you should have no problem staying within budget and building a playground that will delight children and families for years to come.

1) Begin with the end in mind

The first thing you’ll want to do is plan out your budget, but don’t forget to take time planning your project as well. Before beginning, ask yourself: What will my playground look like? What will it have? Will it have trees and plants as well as equipment? Keep in mind that every decision you make about materials and layout will cost money. Things like plants, shade, and surfacing are often get overlooked. It’s important to spend a good amount of time identifying all the aspects that will be included in your playground and their respective costs. Then, if you can justify spending money on something—whether it’s natural materials for visual appeal or shade structures for playability—then go ahead. But if there are trade-offs involved with certain decisions, be sure to consider them carefully.

2) Work with a designer who knows the costs

While it may seem counterintuitive, if you’re working with a designer who has experience with playground design, you can save quite a bit of money. Landscape architects who specialise in play spaces have done enough projects that they’ve worked out the potential pitfalls and rarely have overruns on cost.

So, it is essential for you as the project owner to find a designer who understands budgeting and can work with you from start to finish so that they have an accurate understanding of your expectations. If you don’t have anyone on staff who fits the bill, seek out contractors for advice.


Download our Free Guide: “How to Build a Playground in 2022”


3) Check on equipment lead times

Before getting your heart set on any specific play equipment, check with local suppliers; they can tell you how long it will take for them to fill your order. Also, ask if any of their equipment can be delivered sooner.

Sometimes smaller suppliers have faster lead times than larger ones and manufacturers because they’re not as inundated with orders or demand. To save time in planning and building, aim for shorter lead times on equipment purchases when possible.

Finally, if you can’t find accurate information about delivery times right away, add it to your known unknowns list so you don’t forget later.

4) Establish clear roles and responsibilities

It’s important that everyone understands their role and has a clear understanding of who is responsible for what aspects of construction. Working as a team is vital to keeping on schedule, but it can be easy for people with different roles and responsibilities to become detached or even antagonistic towards one another.

It’s vital for these small problems to be nipped in the bud from day one, as they could easily snowball into major issues. One simple way of dealing with these issues is by assigning individual responsibilities for each member of your team—and then rewarding those that stay within budget. This will let you keep everyone on their toes, ensure that no-one falls behind, and encourage people not to cut corners if they want a shot at being rewarded at month-end.

5) Choose experienced contractors

When you’re building something like a playground, it’s important that you find experienced contractors. If you go with inexperienced builders or installers, there’s no telling what may happen or whether it will be up to the New Zealand playground standards. This isn’t just about saving money—this is about keeping kids safe.

Once you’ve found experienced contractors, work closely with them and be sure that they are taking all of your requests into account. This will help you keep the project on track while also getting exactly what you want out of your playground.


Download our Free Guide: “How to Build a Playground in 2022”


6) Identify and plan how you will mitigate risks

Any project, regardless of size, has risks. Asking, “what can go wrong?” will help you start identifying and understanding what risks there are in your project. Risks in a playground build could include anything from equipment delays and bad weather through to working with an unreliable contractor or team members injuring themselves or getting sick. It pays to brainstorm such risks and identify mitigation strategies for each.

Mitigation strategies may include adding more money or resources into your budget or planning extra time into your schedule for certain aspects of the project. By planning both budgets and timelines with mitigating factors in mind, you can ensure success on any new playground design!

7) Work with a consultant

If you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, it may be because you don’t have an overall vision of what your playground will cost. This is where an play space consultant can come in handy—they’ll work with you from start to finish and provide realistic estimates based on your needs.

When searching for a consultant, look for someone who is independent and isn’t trying to sell you something. A good consultant will work with you to solve problems and deliver the playground you want, not one they wish to sell you. When working with your consultant, you should feel listened to and understood. If you get the sense they are trying to push you into buying certain things that don’t fit with your vision, it’s time to find someone else who is motivated to help you create your dream.

About Creo.

Creo is a playspace design + build company that creates exceptional playspaces across New Zealand. As your playground designer, Creo will work with you every step of the way. You tell us what your goals are for your playspace, and we’ll come up with a design and a plan that matches those goals while staying within your budget. After you’ve decided on something concrete, our team gets to work building! While planning is important, it’s just as important that everything stays on schedule once construction has begun. If you would like to explore working with Creo, we’d love to hear from you. Call us on 0800 000 334 today to see if Creo is a good fit for your next project.


Incorporating Sports Courts and Ground Games in your School Playspace

Whether you’re designing a new play space or remodelling an existing one, it’s important to use the space efficiently and to provide children with lots of ways to play and learn outside of traditional classrooms. Incorporating courts and ground games into your school’s play space design has many benefits that not only include physical activity but also can help nurture creative and social development in children.

What are the benefits of courts and ground games?

Children innately love playing sports, games, and challenging their bodies. By having court and ground markings that can inspire and adapt play, there will always be play options to take advantage of and keep kids from getting bored on the playground.
Offering a range of different sports is important for children. Not only because of the active nature of sports and the benefits of physical activity for children’s health, but sports also provide many social and cognitive learning opportunities.
Having adequate and purpose-built courts and markings in your school ensures that dedicated covered and/or surfaced sports courts provide more year-round use, from wet and muddy winters to warmer, dryer summer conditions.


Download the full guide: Activating Underutilized Space Guide


Creo courts and ground marking options

Courts can be painted onto concrete or asphalt surfaces, as well as designed into a rubber surface; creating tennis, netball, basketball and multi-sports courts. Creo can design help create an amazing court that will coordinate best with your overall design plan.

Other surface-marking play options include mazes, obstacle courses, hopscotch, or life-size board games. The options are endless! Educational elements can also be added in such as; locations, school values, numbers + letters, and other storytelling elements.

Considerations when selecting design options.

The biggest consideration to take when planning on incorporating courts and markings in your school is how much space you have available or if there are any obstacles nearby.  These factors will ultimately determine what options would be best for your needs.

Being able to use these spaces for outdoor halls, gathering spaces or for community connections is important to consider to get the most out of these areas.

Some smaller leftover spaces are great for mini-sized games, for example, a small soccer area, a side field or a simple goal to shoot at can be highly valued and not need a full-size field to be well used.

Having the freedom to draw and personalise your space through markings is a great way to tell the story of your school and create a creative environment for students to play and challenge themselves.

If you would like more information about play surface types available in New Zealand, check out the free guide at www.numatrec.co.nz.

For more elements of play check out our free downloadable book.



3 Signs it’s time for a Playspace Makeover

kids play are at an ECE

The importance of play as an essential element in children’s development cannot be understated. Because of this, creating play spaces and outdoor environments that are fun, interactive, and safe, is becoming an increasingly important part of ECE facilities and programs.

However, there are a number of creative and safety-related challenges to overcome when designing and building such play spaces. This article will explore some of the challenges you might be facing and offer some insights into how to conquer them.


Download the full guide: The Elements of Play


1. Tired Play Spaces

If your playspaces are feeling outdated, unattractive, and untidy, then it is certainly time for a redesign. Not only are outdated playgrounds an eyesore, but they can also be a strain on your maintenance staff who have to spend a large amount of time fixing and maintaining the equipment and surfacing.

A fresh rebuild is a perfect way to create a great looking space that will reduce maintenance in the long term.  Bringing in new elements can breathe fresh air into your ECE, making it look more attractive to parents and staff.  With so many design opportunities you really can bring to life the play space of your dreams.

2. Uninspired Children

If children don’t want to play there and staff don’t want to spend time there, then you know it’s a play space in desperate need of a makeover.  Playtime is a crucial aspect of children’s development. It allows them to interact with each other, get creative, challenge themselves physically, and learn about the world around them. A play space where children can feel inspired is important.

Upgrading your playspace will make it an attractive place to play for your children, which means they’ll spend more time playing happily and less time getting into trouble out of boredom. It also gives staff a pleasant space to interact and teach in.

3. Playground Safety Issues

If your equipment or surfacing is getting old, then it can easily become unsafe and a hazard for children to be around. If you’re there already, then it’s definitely time for a playspace transformation. Safety comes first when designing new areas for kids’ climbing equipment, slides, swings and slides.

By getting a playspace redesign, you’ll not only ensure the safety of your students, but you’ll also take advantage of the opportunity to provide the play and learning spaces you need at your centre.


outdoor play area at an ECE

For more ideas check out our free downloadable book.