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One of the biggest questions you might have when thinking about updating your school playground is: “How much is it really going to cost?”

There is so much more that makes up a playground than just its equipment. There are many factors that are often not discussed which can drive costs up and down. Some of these factors include:
  • The design of the space
  • Establishment and de-establishment of the site
  • Any demolition, removal of topsoil, levelling and compacting of a new base
  • The supply and installation of equipment, surfacing, shading
  • Landscaping
  • Project and site management
Playground Costs

All these things considered, the average school playground costs anywhere between $150,000 and $350,000.

Okay, now that I’ve shocked you with the numbers, let’s explore why a new school playground costs this much and take a closer look at some of the things that play a role in driving costs up or down.

There are 3 key things that influence the cost of a new playground. They are:

1. The type of equipment required.
2. Access and condition of the existing environment.
3. The type of safety surfacing required.

Let’s break these down.

1. The type of equipment required

Here are some of the questions you should be asking when looking at what equipment you install into your space:
  • What is the fall height of the equipment? This is important to find out because the higher the equipment is the more you might have to spend on safety surfacing.
  • Can you use some of the existing equipment? If your existing play equipment is still in decent condition, you might be able to reconfigure, relocate, or reuse it, saving you from spending a portion of your budget.
  • What play types do you need? There are many play types such as, sliding, spinning, swinging, climbing, or unprescribed play, that can be brought in so have a think about what you actually need and want in your space.
  • Are these play types being replicated elsewhere in the school?
  • Are there long lead times on the equipment? This will impact the timely completion of the project and might also drive costs up or down.
  • What are the hidden costs of the installation? These are things like, freight of material and installation of the equipment.
  • What are the maintenance costs of the playground? This ranges from surfacing to equipment to landscaping.
  • Do you want off-the-shelf equipment, or are you looking for something customized for your space? This will impact lead times and cost.
  • Are you wanting any landscaping work done? This might be an additional cost to your project, and you will also have to consider the type of maintenance costs associated.
  • Do you wish to turn your playground into a multi-purpose play and learning environment? Thinking about how the space might be used in the future can really help in choosing features that can be a real investment for your school.
  • What kind of materials do you want to use in your playground? The materials used will greatly impact the cost. Are you wanting plastic, metal, or maybe wooden features?

2. Access and condition of the existing environment.

    The quality of access to the space and its condition will also affect the price of your project. If the space is hard to get to, or there are many things to repair and take care of, it might mean extra work for the installation team. Here are a few things to look for:
    • Is there existing equipment and safety surfacing that needs to be removed or disposed of?
    • Are there any drainage issues that need to be addressed?
    • Will retaining walls need replacing or be put up?
    • Are there any existing trees and roots that need to be worked around or removed?
    • Are there services like water, gas or power under the space that need to be worked around?
    • Is access into the space okay for trucks and equipment?
    • Does pedestrian traffic need to be worked around?
    • Will the project be completed in stages or in one go?

    All these factors will play a role in driving the costs up or down in your playground.

    3. The Type of safety surfacing required.

    We mentioned safety surfacing a little earlier, but it does need to be considered in depth when you are planning for your playground project. You should be asking yourself:
    • Are you needing the space to be inclusive and wheelchair accessible?
    • What kind of ongoing surfacing maintenance are you okay with? Some surfaces require more maintenance than others. For example, wood chips need to be topped up annually whereas a wet pour rubber surface doesn’t require any follow-up maintenance.
    • Is a loose safety surface going to affect the usability of adjacent areas?
    • Are you wanting to include surface mounds and topography play into your space?
    • Are you looking at creating a free-flowing site and eliminating all trip hazards around the perimeter?
    • Do you want to be creating a theme or running story across the space and need a bit more freedom in your surface design?
    • And finally… do you want to include a blend of safety surfaces in order to minimize maintenance and add some sensory experiences to the space?

    As you can see there are a lot of factors that play a role in the final price of your playground and to budget accordingly, you might need to go through and answer a few of these questions to make sure you are well prepared.

    We want to help you make an informed decision when you plan for your project so that you don’t get any nasty surprises along the way. If you’re wanting more information about the price of your playground or you’re wanting to talk to someone about your space, give us a call on 0800 000 334 or flick us an email.

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