As an early education professional, you know that playgrounds are an essential part of a preschool or childcare center for many reasons. Playgrounds enable children to have fun, make friends, and grow in skills such as cooperation and empathy.
You want to give your children the best and safest playground you can, but you are worried about buying and building one. Most notably, you have concerns about the installation process. You are not sure how long it will take or how difficult it will be. You have deadlines you need to meet, and you need to make sure the playground is ready by the first day of school.
At Kaplan, we have designed thousands of playgrounds for young children. This experience has shown us all the ins and outs of the installation process. In this article, we will discuss everything that influences our installation process so that you know what to expect when it is time to install your playground.
Installation's Place in the Playground Buying Process
The timing of playground installation is contingent on other factors because installation is only one part of the buying process. Installation typically comes after quoting and ordering have happened. For clarification, we will explain these two steps so you know what they involve and how they impact installation.
Quoting is when Kaplan’s playground team lets you know the cost of the products and services you are requesting. A quote that includes installation costs will take 7-10 days to produce, and a quote that does not include installation costs will take 2-3 days to produce.
Once you've reviewed and signed the quote, we are ready to place an order for your playground! This is when we order the equipment that our team, or our qualified subcontractors, will need for your playground. Playground materials and structures are entirely made to order. Neither Kaplan nor its vendors keep playground equipment in stock, so the vendors have to make the equipment when we place an order with them.
Causes of Ordering Delays
While ordering revolves entirely around the customer, the complete project is subject to delays. Playground equipment manufacturers can experience material shortages (especially given all of the supply chain issues that have occurred in recent years). Another factor that causes delays in the ordering process is the hiring of installers. The installers that Kaplan uses are subcontractors, not Kaplan employees. This means that Kaplan is at the mercy of their schedules, which do not always align with ours. For example, if the installers are not available until a month after your playground’s materials arrive in our warehouse, we will have to wait until the installers can install your playground. They are held to extremely high standards to meet your needs.
The use of subcontractors is common practice in the playground industry, we are not the only playground company that does it. We know your first response may not be to view the use of subcontractors as a positive because of the delays it can create, but rest assured that these subcontractors will give you the best possible installation service. That is why we use them!
Order Delivery Time
As you can imagine, the intricacy of the ordering process significantly impacts the time it takes for you to receive your playground. This is why there is such a variation in the waiting period between when companies like Kaplan order equipment and when they receive it. Our extensive experience shows that the waiting period for playground parts can range from 6 weeks to 4-5 months.
Although some delays are unavoidable, we want you to know that we make every effort to speed up the ordering process. If we find a qualified supplier that can get a part to us faster, we will order from that supplier.
We understand that delays are frustrating, so we always let our customers know about any delays or complications upfront. Communication is key!
What Can I Do To Prevent the Ordering Process from Delaying My Order?
Because of the range of wait times for parts, we recommend that you determine when you need the playground fully installed and order the playground as far in advance of that date as possible. It may also be a good idea to reach out to the Kaplan team and see how long it is currently taking them to get materials.
Process and Timing of Installation
Once all of the equipment has arrived, Kaplan Early Learning Company will ship the whole playground to you in a single truck. The playground installer will meet the truck when it arrives at your center, offload the equipment, and begin the installation. The actual installation of the playground can take anywhere from 2-3 days to 2-3 weeks, depending on the size of the project.
The sooner you can get your playground project in motion once you break ground, the better off you will be! Take into account some of the things below, and climate.
In some cases, you do have the option to install the playground yourself. However, we recommend you seriously consider whether or not you want to pursue this option. Our commercial playground equipment is much more challenging to install than the residential playground equipment you can find at places such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.
We recommend that you take a look at the electronic installation instructions for your playground before you decide to do it yourself (we will send them to you) just to make sure that whomever you are choosing to do it can do it. We would hate for you to realize that you cannot install the playground on your own while you have playground pieces all around you!
The other installation option is turnkey installation. In the turnkey installation, we hire subcontractors to install the playground for you. These subcontractors will typically construct the equipment first and then install the surfacing. Turnkey installation costs more than DIY installation, but it will cause you significantly less stress because you will place your installation in the hands of people who know what they are doing!
While these installers will make every effort to build your playground on time, some factors can delay the process. Weather and seasonality are the most prominent causes. Bad weather can delay a project for days or even weeks. Another unforeseen factor is worker shortages. Installers may have personal crises that they need to address, which can make crews short-handed and cause delays. Keeping an open line of communication is essential for meeting deadlines and being aware of potential delays.
We hope this article has given you some clarity about our installation process and what influences it. As you consider buying a playground, it is our goal to provide you with everything you need to know so that nothing catches you by surprise. We build our playgrounds to nurture growth and ignite the imagination, and proper installation is essential to making those things happen.
If you are thinking about purchasing one of our playgrounds, please visit the playgrounds page of our website. We want to make the process of buying and installing a playground as smooth and rewarding as possible. Please reach out to us when you are ready to begin building your new playground!