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.
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.
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.
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.