So, you want a new playground… (1 of 3): The Law of 3’s

25 Apr

Our church’s new playground project will be completed within the next month.
Today, we completed phase 2 of the project.

We’re learning a ton about the playground business and what it takes to re-imagine a play space and I thought I’d share my insights here.

Today, we’ll be looking at budgeting and planning tips for your playground renovation.

Some quick facts about our situation:

Our current playground is over 15 years old.
In California, that means that many safety precautions now in place were never considered when our current structures were installed.
In church culture, that means that the playground was built in the early 90’s… a time when Children and Family ministries did not hold the weight they do today in budgeting conversations.
The amount a church is willing to spend today is dramatically higher than the amount a church would have spent on a children’s play area 20 years ago.

Our space is limited.
When our church was built, children were intentionally hidden from view and the area available to us is limited because of it.
Overall, the space our project will fill could be split into approx a 35′ x15′ area and a 60′ x 30′ area.

Disneyland is half an hour away.
Being located in Los Angeles, you cannot even begin to compete with the options that families have for entertainment.
Instead, we focused on creating a safe place where families could spend time together and children could expend large amounts of energy.
For us, this meant we valued active space and circuit play over excitement value.

With those things in mind, we assembled a planning team to create a proposal for our church’s Session (board of Elders).

Here are the Top 3 things we wish we could have known at this stage of the project:

The Law of 3’s

  1. Think of an amount you’d like to spend on the project.
    Triple that number… the first quotes you receive will come close to that amount.
    We originally wanted to replace our current playground for around $45k.
    Our first bid came in just under $150k.
  2. Triple every number you find in a playground equipment catalog.
    Keep in mind that your overall cost will be about 1/3 Play Equipment and 2/3 Demo, Install, Surfacing and Labor.
    There’s plenty of room to cut $ from a project like this and I’ll share tips on how to save money later in this series.
  3. Get, at minimum, 3 bids on the project.
    Different companies can offer different savings.  Write all of these savings options down… you’ll want these later.
    Be up front about who you’re getting bids from.  Companies know who their competitors are and will work harder for you if they know the face of their competition.

Being realistic in the early stages of your project will save you immeasurable amounts of time and stress.
Keeping the Law of 3’s in mind, you’ll go into Budgeting and Planning (Phase 1) for your project more prepared than the majority of people in your shoes… which will set you up nicely for what we’ll be talking about tomorrow.

Tomorrow (part 2 of 3): $aving Money while Serving Jesus

Proposed Toddler Area

Proposed 5-12 Area


Posted by on April 25, 2009 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Playground


Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “So, you want a new playground… (1 of 3): The Law of 3’s

  1. Tony Kummer

    April 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing this process on the blog. I’m going to link you from my children’s ministry newsletter. Thanks for the great resource.


  2. Anthony Prince

    May 29, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    here’s a link to the Facebook Photo Album for our new playground:



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