We have been wanting a playground set for our backyard for over a year. The problem: we wanted a nicer wood or large metal set, but didn't have the $500+ to get even a basic set. Over the years we've put up a couple wooden ones for various family and friends, so we're familiar with the time involved.
After watching the local classified ads for a couple of months, I was finally lucky enough to see a wood playset listed for $50 and be the first one to call about it. (I'd called on at least 5 others, but was always way down the list.) We were fortunate - it was Saturday afternoon, my father-in-law's truck and trailer were available, my husband was available, and the playset was only 20 minutes away.
So, we showed up, took some pictures, spent 2 hours taking the set apart and loading it in the trailer, got home, unloaded, fed the kids (it was well past dinner time by then), looked at each other and said "Now where do we start?" The picture is of the stack of pieces on our back porch!
It was Monday evening, Family Home Evening, before we got around to doing anything. We'd taken it apart in big pieces to make things easier, but it also meant that we couldn't exactly put it back together the normal way. We decided to lift up the platform of the fort, attach two of the corner posts to it, then lift up the other side and attach the other two posts.
Which post goes in which corner? They're ALL different! I spent at least 20 minutes studying pictures, and still got two of them mixed up (fortunately we didn't have to take the posts out and move them:)
When we lifted it up to put in the second set of posts, the first set twisted around, splintering the wood it was attached to!
Re-assemly came to an abrupt halt. We had to wait for the next day and a trip to the hardware store to get supplies to fix the broken piece.
After that, things went a little more smoothly. We were careful to add some bracing pieces to the corner posts before attaching them to the platform. We got some larger lug nuts to replace the ones that come with the set, hoping that that would make things sturdier. By the end of the day Tuesday, we had the playset mostly together - except for the rope ladder and picnic table which needed more extensive repairs. The kids were playing, and Mom was happy! The playset does creak quite a bit when the children all swing, but I think that's mostly just the nature of wooden playsets. I still need to get it painted before winter, but we'll get there - eventually!
Would I recommend this route to anyone else?
Yes, but only if you like puzzles, have extra time on your hands, and really can't afford to pay full price for one. Be sure to take lots of pictures, put all of your hardware in labeled plastic bags, and try to mark the bigger pieces so you can tell exactly where they go!
For those who don't meet the above qualifications: save your money to buy a new one. Even if you have to do the assemply yourself, it will at least come clearly marked and with instructions!