18 Mar How to evaluate a playground’s cost
Hint: It’s not the purchase price
A neighborhood playground’s cost is more than what you pay the supplier. That’s the acquisition cost, which isn’t the best gauge for evaluating playground costs when reviewing proposals from competing bidders.
When you evaluate commercial playground vendor proposals, you’ll want to calculate the cost of ownership over the long term, perhaps 30 years. Let’s say you are evaluating two proposals: a steel playground and one built from EcoPlay Structures’ plastic lumber.
How to calculate the cost of a new playground for your neighborhood
Here’s our simplified, four-step approach for comparing the cost of ownership of playgrounds. To focus just on equipment costs, we’re not including landscaping, fencing, or the cost of ground cover materials, such as pea gravel or rubber mulch.
- For each proposal, calculate your initial investment in the playground equipment. Don’t forget to add transportation and installation costs.
- For the steel playground, use a 15-year lifespan to calculate replacement costs in today’s dollars. This means replacing it twice in 30 years.
- For EcoPlay Structures playgrounds, factor in the cost to refresh the structure by replacing some lighter components, such as slides and shades. Assume your refreshment cost is about 10% of the Step 1 cost after 15 years and another 10% after 30 years.
- For a steel playground, add steps 1 and 2; for an EcoPlay Structures playground, add steps 1 and 3. Compare the totals, and you should find that the long-term cost of ownership for a steel playground is about double that of an EcoPlay Structures playground.
Check out this real-world example where the initial investment in the EcoPlay Structures equipment was higher than steel. After 30 years, however, EcoPlay generated savings of 47% over the steel playground!
So, when it’s time to build a playground, talk to one of our playground specialists. We’ll help you design an age-appropriate playground to suit your space and your budget.