I've wanted to build a swingset for my kids for a while. I looked at the kits for sale in the big box stores, but the reviews for them mentioned holes that didn't line up, cracked warped boards and lumber that rotted out quickly. I priced other plans, that don't even come with any brackets, or the other extra's, and they were more money for the plans once you subtracted the price of the swings and fort roof. Buying this kit gave me the plans and brackets I needed to get the job done. I liked being able to select the lumber my self, and being able to modify some parts as needed. The brackets allow faster constructon than notching the main beams together. I was able to build a complete swing set over two days, mostly because I built it by myself, and because It took almost half a day to buy the lumber and get it home. If I'd bought the lumber ahead of time I could have built it in one day. The only downside to the plans I found, they really underestamated the amount of 2.5" screws needed. the plan says 1 lb. I was lucky to have a couple of other boxes of exterior screws lying around. I believe I went through over 5 lbs of them and I was following the plans when I ran out of the first pound. Buy the large box of the 2.5" screws, not the 1 lb one.
If you've ever installed a wooded playset, had to maintain and re-stain it every couple of years, and then had to uninstall it because it's deteriorated and you fear the city will arrive with CAUTION tape and CPS to keep your kids safe, you would realize what a perfectly genius idea it was for Lifetime to make these playsets. It is bigger than it seems in pictures, which is fantastic because even my 14-year old likes to sit in the top and do homework. We purchased the deluxe set with monkey bars which I highly recommend, even though my 5-year broke her arm on it 15 minutes after we set it up. (It wouldn't have broken, however, if her sister hadn't been "helping" her by holding her legs up, which prevented her from dropping nicely.) Which leads me to my next point of following their safety recommendations and setting it up in a safety zone with something other than hard ground to land on. The monkey bars are solid, tall enough for older kids to enjoy, and the main reason we purchased this set. The slide is quite zippy. Maybe hold the hand of a toddler until they get used to it, although my 20-month-old landed on her feet the first time down. I'm not saying she hasn't landed on her bum plenty of times since. She also manages the ladder by herself quite well but I do get a little worried when my other kids are impatiently following right behind her. Mostly because I...ahem... did not follow the recommended safety instructions and installed it on grass. No falls yet though. If you follow the directions it is an easy installation, all things considered. It's not a 2-3 day job you might get with an equivalent wooden set. They package the hardware in individual packs labeled for each section. There were a couple of packets where the labels were different than in the instructions but the pictures of the hardware were spot on so common sense pulls through. As a general rule, I recommend having common sense if you put anything together. Make sure you don't over-tighten the bolts that go through any of the posts; with enough force you will slightly squish the metal. Also, make sure One change we did was not to install the fireman's pole on when the instructions tell you to. The swings/monkey bar section isn't attached to the main play structure yet so it doesn't make sense to ground it when you don't have it in its final destination. It took 2 adults and 1 good intentioned 11-year old about 6-7 hours to put it together. Because we happened to have an extra slide from a previous playset that is now resting in a landfill, my husband removed one of the solid panels, drilled a couple of extra holes, and added an extra slide to our playset. Our kids love it. So if you happen to have an extra slide sitting around not pulling its weight I recommend putting it to work on this playset. Lifetime of course cannot recommend this but it works great for us.
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