Friday, May 11, 2007

Summer Vacation Destination: Back Yard

Spring is in the air and we got our first taste of summer during our March trip to Kiawah. We were fortunate enough to take this trip and come back to very pleasant weather in the Midwest. We now have our sights on making our backyard a summer vacation experience. Looking outside the kitchen window into our backyard, we set our sights on our latest exterior project, a play set for the kids. I made the trip to Menards and purchased a smaller size play set kit that consisted of a play tower (Fortress) and a connectable swing set bay. The range of play sets varies from a simple swing set to the enormous fortresses with connecting bridges (moat not included). I didn’t want to spend too much nor allow it to occupy half of my backyard, so I opted for the smaller size.

I brought my dad to the store when purchasing this kit because he had a truck and I needed his expertise when picking out the lumber that went with the kit. The lumber selection process was quite interesting and took quite a long time, about two and half hour process. We scoured through hundreds of pieces of lumber before we found boards that weren’t full of knots or shaped like bananas. After going through this exercise, I was glad we picked out the lumber and did not have it delivered. I can only imagine the quality of wood we would have received. After loading up our carefully chosen supplies, we headed back to the house for cutting and drilling.

The kit we purchased came with some pretty detailed and user friendly instructions to cut the pieces. There was even a drilling template for making holes in the timber. The cutting and drilling process probably took another 3 hours just because there were so many pieces, not to mention the wood was not a perfectly sized. After all our cuts were made and labeled with a pencil, we organized the lumber in neat little stacks and put them on the garage floor prior to assembly. First day of construction took us about seven hours.

The second day consisted of actually assembling the play set with our cut and drilled lumber. The day’s activities included completing the roof and assembling the tower (or playhouse). The roof was assembled in about an hour. We then proceeded to work on the tower. The tower portion actually took some time given the amount of drilling and counter-boring needed for the 4” x 4” pieces. The tower was assembled in a few hours and we were able to place it out into the desired (flattest ground) area of the backyard. We laid the tower on its side, and connected our already assembled roof piece. We then erected this temple to the gods onto its legs and the kids let out a collective cheer. Witnessing the roof and slide installation to this backyard fixture injected some serious excitement into the tots. We then did some finishing work such as install protective rails, decking, and stair tweaking which took pretty much the remainder of our day. Second day of construction actually took about seven hours.

The third day of construction involved the construction and addition of the actual swing set. This project involved going back to the hardware store because we were a few pieces of lumber short. Our stair tweaking in day two set us back on some critical pieces that we needed to finish the job. The swing set installation took us about 6 hours then we were done. This whole project would have been completed sooner if we had not messed up on a few steps. So overall, the total project time was about twenty hours. Why did it take us so long? I think there are a few reasons such as three or four trips to the hardware store, lumber shortages, project tweaking, etc. I think if we look back and trim a few mistakes we could have scaled this project time to about fourteen hours. Note, the manufacturer suggested that it takes two people between seven and nine hours. Ha!

As much work as this monstrosity was, I recommend it to those that have backyard space to spare. It is not a day at the beach, but at least it keeps the kids busy while you work in the garden, yard, or just want to sit on the patio and read the paper.

1 comment:

Family Travel Destinations United States said...

Summer is the only opportunity for a family vacation aside from other holidays. Summer is the best time for a family bonding on a great tourist spot