An outdoor playset helps kids of all ages stay active and have fun. Unfortunately, setting up a playset could be time-consuming, technical, and daunting. Many people forgo a DIY set up in favor of professional installation.
Where do you find the best playset installers? What different options are available? Your complete guide to professional playset installation starts right now.
Benefits of Professional Installation
Hiring a professional has several benefits over assembling it yourself:
It’s easier. A playset is designed as a permanent fixture for a yard. The initial setup can be fairly intricate. If you’re not particularly handy, building a playset can be frustrating. Hiring a pro alleviates those frustrations.
It’s safer. If you don’t assemble the playset correctly, it could wind up structurally unsound, have sharp pieces, or otherwise have elements dangerous to kids. Hiring a professional installer helps ensure the set is built safely.
It’s faster. Depending on the size of the set, the assembly could take anywhere from a few hours to several days. However, a professional can typically assemble even the most complicated sets far faster than an amateur because they have more experience.
Start Your Search with Your Retailer
When looking for a professional installer, start by asking the retailer who sold you the set. They might have employees who can build the playset, or they might have an installation company they work with often and recommend.
Whether or not a company offers installation services can be fairly difficult to predict, so you’ll need to ask the retailer beforehand.
One major benefit of retailer-based installation is that you don’t have to schedule an appointment for delivery and another for installation. Instead, the same team that delivers the equipment also sets it up. It’s the more convenient option.
Generally, installation is more likely at local, independent stores instead of national chains. Independent stores typically have more flexibility regarding whether or not employees can work off-premises. Additionally, employees tend to have more specialized experience. Installers for national chains work on a contractor basis while independent stores likely use in-house employees.
The Importance of Local Word of Mouth
Whenever possible, choose installers with a positive reputation in the community. Check online for any reviews. Practically any business will have a few complaints, and that’s fine, but you want to choose a company with generally positive word of mouth.
Additionally, ask your family and friends if they have any recommendations. A personal recommendation from someone you trust is one of the best ways to find a great company.
Types of Installation Companies
There are two general types of companies that install playsets.
- Local Installers
- National Installation Companies
Both have benefits along with a few potential drawbacks.
Local installers are smaller organizations that typically have a service area limited to a few cities. Some local installers only install playsets, while others install other equipment such as trampolines, barbeque grills, and other outdoor equipment.
There are typically several benefits to choosing a local option. First, they tend to provide excellent customer service. Local companies rely on their reputation more than national ones need to, so they often go above-and-beyond to ensure customers have a great experience.
Additionally, local companies tend to have more expertise. Their entire business is dedicated to setting up only a few items, so they’re familiar with the ins and outs. On the other hand, national companies or installers from major retailers typically perform other duties, such as appliance delivery, so they typically don’t have a high level of specialized knowledge.
On the downside, local companies often have slightly higher prices than national organizations. Plus, they have limited availability because they typically don’t have as many employees as the larger companies. You might have fewer scheduling opportunities, especially during summer and spring, which tend to be the busiest times of the year.
National Installation Companies
National installers are another popular option. Companies such as Go Configure operate nationwide networks of installation professionals. They handle the entire installation from start to finish. You order the service you need directly from the website, making the process quick and easy with clear pricing.
Any national network will offer a wide service area, making it possibly the only option if a local company doesn’t operate in your area. Additionally, they tend to offer a wide variety of services such as setup and installation for outdoor play equipment, gazebos, furniture, and much more. If you need multiple projects assembled, hiring a single company is the most efficient option.
Unfortunately, the lack of specialization can be a potential downside. If you have a complicated playset, you might want to choose a company that only works on playsets instead of working on multiple different projects.
Another potential downside is that you don’t have much control over the specific people sent to your location. The larger company reaches out to a provider within their network and assigns them to you. While the top national companies may perform thorough vetting, you don’t have much of an opportunity to check out the installers before hiring them. If you spend the time searching, you could also be able to hire the same local installer at a reduced rate without the national company’s markup.
As touched on earlier, big box retailers offer in-home installation on a case-by-case basis, so be sure to ask when you buy the set.
A more common option is the use of a referral network. For example, Home Depot offers a Pro Referral service while Lowe’s offers Playset Installation. All big box referral services work in basically the same way. The big box retailer taps into their pre-screened network of service providers to find a qualified installation company in your area.
Using a retailer’s network is a convenient option. Plus, you don’t have to worry too much about finding a qualified provider, because the major retailers typically do a thorough job of screening the companies they recommend. On the down side, you usually don’t get a wide variety of options (if any) to choose from.
Shopping around can help you find a provider with the specific experience for your job. Also, you can potentially save some money.
Scheduling the Installation
Generally, you want to schedule delivery of the playset before you arrange for installation. Don’t try to arrange for both to occur on the same day. If there are any delays in the delivery of the playset, you might wind up paying for installers to do nothing.
Typically, playsets are shipped in large boxes or crates. If the packaging is weather-resistant, you can simply leave it in your driveway. Otherwise, you might want to store it in your garage until the installation appointment.
Another advantage of scheduling equipment delivery before installation is that it gives you a chance to inspect the playset for any damage or missing parts.
How to Prepare for Installation
One of the best aspects of hiring professional installers is that you don’t have to do much work yourself. But there are still a few ways you’ll need to prepare your property so installation goes smoothly.
First, you’ll need to have a clear path between the equipment and the area you want to put it. Make sure all gates are unlocked and have some way they can stay open. Also, keep pets and kids inside and out of the way.
Also, have a plan to get rid of the waste. Typically, a fairly sizable amount of packaging is left over. You might want to rent a dumpster or hire a haul-away service.
Where Should the Playset Go?
You’ll want to have planned ahead for the ideal spot in your yard for the playset. First, the area must be level. You might need to add or remove dirt to create an even footprint. Installers do not typically level areas as part of their fee.
Many people add a fill to the area instead of putting the swing set directly on the grass. Popular fill options include sand, pea gravel, and synthetic mulch. They provide a softer space. Plus, mowing around playsets is often difficult, so it’s easier to simply get rid of the grass in that area altogether.
Additionally, the area should be free from potential hazards. You want at least six feet of space around the entire swing set. Don’t put it underneath any trees or power lines, as either can potentially fall down into the set.
Finally, try to keep it out of direct sunlight. While that’s not always possible, you want to avoid having it bake in the sun for the majority of the day. Not only does the heat pose a safety risk, but it can also cause the colors of the equipment to fade.
Prices vary based on the complexity of the set, the accessibility of the installation spot, and other factors. Generally, installation of a small-to-medium-sized set costs a few hundred dollars. Large, more complex installations can run a bit more, typically between $800 to under $2,000.
Can You Install a Playset Yourself?
You can, but there are potential drawbacks. Today’s swing sets are fairly intricate. They’re far more like miniature playgrounds than many people realize. While that makes them fun for kids, it does increase the complexity of installation.
As a general rule, assume that no playset can be assembled by a single person. You’ll need at least one other adult to provide assistance. Additionally, give yourself plenty of time. If you’ve never assembled a playset before, you’re likely going to spend a significant amount of time figuring out the instructions.
Ultimately, most people prefer to leave the installation to the pros. Although it does increase the overall costs, you have peace of mind knowing that the set is assembled correctly.
For more tips on installing a playset yourself, read our article on the playset installation process.
When you hire professional installers, you and your family can enjoy all the benefits of a home playset with none of the hassle. Plus, hiring an expert helps ensure the playset is put together correctly and safely. Whether you choose a national organization or a local company, you want to select a team with experience, a trustworthy reputation, and affordable prices. Professional playset installation is often the easiest and most efficient option, but the decision is ultimately up to you.