Build vs. Buy


In 1996, when we bought the playset pictured in the background, it came as a pile of pine treated lumber, and some plastic bits. It took most of the summer to build the thing. (Yes, that’s how Gina talks on the phone. It’s a family habit.)

Corey was 6. He was in charge of measuring. It was a great way to spend the summer — cutting and drilling and bolting and hammering. We did a pretty good job. There’s a certain satisfaction to collaborating on building something. But after five years, the structure became dilapidated. Wasps took up residence under the roof of the blue tower. The wood split and splintered, and the slide and breezeway filled up with detritus. In the ordinary course of events, that would have been a reasonable destiny — but we had two more children. So, now, almost ten years later, we have a four year old and an eight year old — we still need a playset.

We ordered the King Kong Castle.

Package III — which means: add in the monkey bars — not pictured here. Rainbow Direct (or their agents) will assemble it. I need to dismantle the existing structures (including the swing set in the back). I suppose I could have built the new one, but the King Kong is *big*. Those beams are massive. The swing beam is playground height — suitable for adults. We wanted that lifetime guarantee. And it seems like the technology going into play structures has advanced significantly during the Internet boom.

I find that I like D-I-Y — but only the first time. The second time, whether it’s remodeling the kitchen, finishing the basement, or building the playset — the second time my reaction is “been there, done that.” The second time, I want to hire somebody else to do it. The second time, I prefer to buy, not build.

Usually. But I always like the part where I get to use the sledgehammer.