Planning a commercial playground renovation or new build?
With over 10 years of working with childcare centres and building commercial playgrounds over our time it is safe to say we have had plenty of experience building playgrounds and many more with assisting with playground ideas, plans and processes for execution along with completing the playground transformations as well.
Your chosen builder, landscaper, electrician, plumbers and even engineers are a team you need to rely on to deliver the plans you have in mind. In saying this every build is unique to its owners and it’s important you make it work best for you, and the many users of the facilities.
If you are new to the playground build process and its your first playground build or upgrade- firstly congrats.
Here are some great tips on the process:
- Come up with a clear understanding of what you want in your facility before you go to your builder or architect – Playground ideas are far and wide so its important you get to know the centres needs.
- Start with a mind map of what you want
- Target – Be clear about what age group the playground is for and what they like
- Talk to your team internally- find out what their “ideal” playground would look like, what key elements are a must have vs. a wish list? What would or wouldn’t you have? What would it look like? Get them to all input ideas using existing floor plans and see what the common consensus is –
- Talk to the parents – this can either be done in a parent meeting or you can have a suggestion box at the front
- Assess how the playground is used daily and what is important to the kids and staff. Here are a few key outcomes from a few of our clients
- Cleaning equipment access and storage
- Toy storage
- Zones for staff to children ratios
- Timelessness – making sure it’s more than just a fad/trend
- Heights – does the intended age group work with heights or does it need to be low level play area. If it is tall do you have enough space for a soft fall or are their risks to climbing more then just the play zone like a-joining fences
Narrow down your “have to have” list and your “wish list” then approach builders and architects, sometimes a builder can lead you to a good architect.
- Have an idea of a budget or a budget range – we all know we aim for the lowest but remember you are building a commercial playground and value for money and quality over quantity are key points to take away when you are investing in capital… as cliché as the sayings are, you get what you pay for. Which leads to our next step…
- Do your research on your team of builders and architects – websites are very informative; referrals and case studies are even better. Take a look at references on website or ask for referrals. But most importantly meet with them and make sure they are a great fit for you.
- Timing, staging and council approval – each state has an allocated play area requirement per child in QLD it’s 7m2 per child. You need to ask yourself while renovating can you meet this if you were to do the build in one go or will you require a waiver during the build to reduce this. Perhaps you need to stage the build in parts or do it during a quiet period. These are all questions that your builder or project manager should help you with but would be good for you to think about.
We previously interviewed a client and this is what they had to say about the process:
What our client had to say about the process
- Research –seek out as many ideas and advice as you can
- Engage with the users
Before you start, engage with your Managers, staff and families.
Your staff are the people who have to work in that environment, and look after the kids at the same time. Listen to your Educators because they will tell you “that’s not going to work, I can’t see children”. That’s the experience of Educators talking and it’s important!
During the process – Engage the staff again, engage with your manager, ask the opinion of the parents as well. When we did stage 1 and then 2, I would always say to the educators. “How does this feel? Does it look good?” And then one day they said “we’re thinking it might be a little hot out here because we have blocked off some of the breeze from here. That’s when I instantly got Mathiou Services to put up a shade sail. That was immediately done. It wasn’t done as an afterthought; it was done at that time.
- Engage with your Department, right from the beginning of the process.
- Make sure the accessibility and immediacy of your outdoor equipment storage is accessible to educators, so they are not having to leave children and run out of site. Keeping a balanced ratio at all times.
- Stay happy!
But that’s all about getting the right people on board. And honestly, Mathiou Services made this an excellent experience. There’s no doubt about that at all. I can’t imagine if I hadn’t used them. I think it would have been a totally different scene.