Unless your family playset budget is over $3000 and you're looking at a large play system that's adult and kid friendly, your choices are overwhelming, but not always practical. The average parent is generally looking to keep cost down and even spending a few hundred dollars seems like a stretch, but we love our kids and want to make them happy.
A fair quality "box playset" that is likely made in China will still cost $500-1200. The problem is the options or configurations are limited and may not fit your yard or your expectations and will most likely be ready for the dump in 5-7 years. These box sets are usually made with lumber native to the country where they're manufactured, they utilize the smallest hardware available to satisfy U.S. standards and have specific maximum weight and use limitations.
Using DIY playset plans make it easy for you to build your own swing set for under $1000 with the option of selecting the equipment and configuration that best fits your needs and space. You can even use timber grown here in the USA. My plans call for large heavy duty hardware that exceeds american residential playset standards and when complete, most adults can play along with the kids. You also have the advantage of possible resale when your family has outgrown this longtime friend versus being better suited to burn lie most box playsets. Start off with just the fort and slide for a toddler and as they grow you can add components such as a swingset, rock climbing walls, monkey bars or climbing events that are age appropriate for your kids.
Forget about cost, quality and durability. Let's talk about the sense of accomplishment you're going to experience when you finish building your own wooden playscape for your kids. There is nothing better.
When you compare overall build time, a pre-fab box set can take the average parent 1-4 days for assembly with the ultimate experience being, you have learned not to do it again. With a DIY playset plan you gain valuable experience that can be used for other projects around the home, not to mention acquiring some cool new tools. Add the feeling of awesomeness as friends and family admire and play on your accomplishment. Once you have the engineering down and use the plans as a guide, you should be able to build or add-on anything to your swing set and utilize your new skills for other projects. Read my DIY Reviews.