Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ultrabuilt Play Systems

A few weeks ago I shared about how we made the decision on what play system we wanted to get for the kids. We have now had our play system for a couple of weeks and are pleased with the decision that we made.

As you may recall, we selected the Ultrabuilt Play System for our children. We liked the modularity and the ability to configure it to what works best for our family. We also liked many of the design features, including the swing beam that is rated for 1000 pounds.

Rather than building it ourselves, we elected to have the team from Ultrabuilt install our play system. The pieces for the play system come partially assembled (rails are built, etc) and I think that we probably could have built it ourselves, but watching our children anxiously await the completion of the play set, it was good that we opted to have them build it. We were at least able to keep them occupied while it was built, if we were building it, it would have been very difficult for us to keep them occupied and I think there would have been a lot of frazzled nerves and flaring tempers before construction was complete. In addition, since our yard has a slight slope, it was nice having them install it. They were experienced and were able to balance between digging out some dirt and shimming one side to make sure that we had a level installation for the forts and didn't lose anything on the angle of the slides. They adjusted the swing beam to ensure it was level as well. I'm not saying we couldn't have figured it out, but their experience made it quick and easy for them to get a level installation. The team of four installed the play set in about 4 hours. For my husband and I to have done it on our own, certainly it could have turned into a multi-day installation. But, again, it was nice that we had the option to pay for installation or to install it ourselves.

The kids were ready to play as soon as it as the installation was complete. They both really are enjoying climbing, sliding and swinging. My daughter, who struggled with navigating the rock wall at the sales lot, quickly mastered the rock wall and now is a pro. I still have trouble convincing her that flip flops are not designed for climbing a rock wall and that she should be wearing tennis shoes when she climbs, so we have had a few slips, but nothing more than a scraped belly.

Both kids are becoming better at swinging too. Of course, with the higher swing bar, they can go higher, so even though they can now both pump and maintain a swing, they still want me to push so that they can go higher. My daughter has also decided that swinging on her belly is another great way to swing. She walks forward with the swing at her chest and then lifts her legs and swings back.

I really love that I can swing. When I get a break from pushing, it is fun to climb on a swing and feel the wind in my hair. It used to be that I had to go to the park if I wanted to swing and I always had to watch, so I wasn't taking a swing away from a child. I really must say that having a swing beam that supports 1000 pounds is a huge selling feature of the Ultrabuilt Play System from my perspective. I love that I can act like a kid again. Yesterday, my daughter was swinging on her swing and I decided to swing on the trapeze bar. Of course it is set to a height for the kids, so I couldn't swing hanging from my arms because my knees were on the ground, but I was able to hold the handles and pull my legs in and swing them up over top of the bar. My daughter thought it was funny to see Mommy swinging upside down. It was a blast (and reminded me just how much upper body strength it takes to get yourself up on a trapeze bar). I didn't go so far as to pull myself up to sitting on the bar, I'm not sure I could do it without some added strength training!

One accessory that we added to our play system was a picnic table (courtesy of Ultrabuilt) and it has been a huge hit. I had always wanted to get the kids a picnic table, but never knew where we would keep it. Now that we have a picnic table her size, my daughter can't get enough of eating there. We used it Memorial Day weekend for a picnic we hosted, giving the kids their own place to eat. This was a nice change, since they always ate at the table on our deck at recent picnics. My daughter has also dined alone at her picnic table during regular meals and has shared snacks with the neighbors at the table. What's nice too, is that with it positioned below the tower, there is a good amount of shade for the table area and the kids will sit down and visit there when they need a break.

I love having the play system in our yard. Not only does it allow the kids to get out and play while I prepare dinner (couldn't do a trip to the park in that time), but it also has resulted in the kids and their friends playing more in our yard. I like having the ability to look out my window or sit on my deck and watch them play with their friends - no need to worry abut what they might be up to at the neighbor's or three doors down. It is entertaining to listen to some of their pretend play too. One frequent start to their tale is "let's say that you didn't see me here and you climbed up the tower and..." - it is great to know that they are exercising their mind and their body while having fun.

After installation, we noticed some concerns with a few of the steps on our ladder and we had questions about some cracks in the posts. A quick call to the company and things were resolved. They sent us two new steps to replace the ones that had issues. This excellent response time is a sign of quality customer service to me. As to the cracks we saw in the posts, we learned that these were due to dry checking and were assured that this is normal for the treated lumber and not a structural concern. Again, an informed team that is aware of what is normal and what to worry about is an important part of customer service, especially for a product like a play system that is an investment.

If you are considering getting a play system for your family, I highly recommend checking out Ultrabuilt. You can visit their website to explore the many options they have - they seem to have a set for every budget and yard size, from a simple swing set with slide to the "Space Station Ultrabuilt" a play system with everything. Discover the accessories that you can add to make your play system all your own - from picnic tables to forts to monkey bars. You can design your own system online and submit it for a quote by your local dealer. You can even print it out to plan how it would fit in your yard. A visit to your local dealer is a great opportunity to observe your kids at play and help you make decisions on what accessories will get the most use.

No compensation was received for this post. The opinions expressed are strictly my own. Ultrabuilt did provide as an addition to the play system that we purchased, the picnic table accessory, so that we could further experience their product line and share our experiences.