Childrens Play Centre Build Thread

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50020

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I recently started building a play centre for my children to play on. My intention was to build it late 2020, but I was distracted laying a driveway, which took longer than I ever imagined due to the struggle with builders merchants often only supplying trade :rolleyes:, but hey ho.I did order the majority of timer in 2020, and got most before the price increased drastically, which might have made this unachievable. The total costs for a self build have been eye watering in my opinion anyway!

The idea below is what I was going for, and it turns out that because the bridge between the two towers was more than 30cm above the ground, planning permission was required. This bridge would be classed as a platform. It was about 1.3m off the ground at the location of build, but the back garden does slope away from the house. Even with this slope though, it was still about 60cm off the ground, so full planning was required. The application was sent off in plenty of time before I started, but in fairness it was turned round pretty quickly. My neighbours even came round with a letter about 3 days after my application asking about it! I had already prepared a little pack of plans and pictures for them both to take around and discuss anyway (thankfully we have great neighbours) but the council got the jump on me. I don't think there would ever have been an issue but it's nice to be nice.


General View.jpg


Permission granted, and driveway finished, it was time to make a start. *discalimer, I have never done anything like this before. I like to think I am fairly handy, and I love reading build threads on here, and also YouTube videos, and over the years have spent hours helping my dad do absolutely everything and anything.

The basis for the design is shown below. With 8 posts in/on the ground with everything built around those.

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So, spade in the ground. I was thinking of using post spikes to hold the supporting posts. In the end after a bit of deliberation, I decided to have a concrete base with a post holder concreted in. I dug a hole about 60cm deep, this along with a cardboard tube at the top would make for a neater finish. The total height from the bottom of the holes at the back of the play centre would be about 75cm, and at the front about 60cm. This was to account for the slope of the ground. This would obviously mean the top of them are level, in readiness for the 2.4m 100mmx100mm posts.

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And that was it, concrete in and waiting for it to set. No turning back now.

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50020

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8 holes later, and levelled to the best of 'my ability', along with the post holder being as vertical as possible, it was time to get the posts in. Once the posts were in, they were aligned vertically, and temporarily tied together using a bit of bracing. I was about 1cm off square, but given twists in the posts which became more evident it wasn't a big issue.

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I made a template for drilling the posts. Attached to the posts was 4x3. So this was measured, and so I got the hole in the correct place in the post, I made a template.

Some of my former life involved software engineering, and if a piece of code was used more than once, I put it in a function. One thing I have learned from watching YouTube and reading here, along with woodworking course I did with Chris Tribe of Ilkley, was the usefulness of templates. This is a simple thing, I simply clamped it at the exact height I wanted, and then drilled the hole. It worked out great for the 16 holes I needed.

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I then had the posts perfectly square, the bearers, and the supports for the floors in place. This would be my basic supporting structure. This is a 3D SketchUP from early in the process.

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50020

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After bolting the 4x3's to the posts obviously ensuring they were level, it looked like this. I needed the two layers of 4x3s to support the bridge. I thought this was the best way to achieve supporting the floor, the bridge and the planned veranda. Bolts were M16 of a suitable length. I used a longer length of straight 4x3 with a level between the two towers to ensure the top of the supports on the right tower were level with the left tower.

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50020

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One step I have missed already, is the method used to ensure that the post feet were in the correct location.

I simply had two pieces of 4x4, with some lengths of 4x2 separating the two post pieces the required distance apart to create a template. I then placed one end of my post template in to the first fixed Post Support and then dug a hole at the right place for the next Post Support. So-on and so forth with a mind to keeping what would be the post frame square. Digging the hole, there wasn't the need for perfect accuracy, but once I was setting the concrete, I left the template in place. Bearing in mind I was only doing one Post Support at a time, but once the Concrete was set enough (I left it 3hrs or so) to take the weight of the template at one end. At the other end, I placed the Post Support in to the concrete on the free end of the template and tapped down so the template was level, and left it in place for a couple of hours. This would mean the Post Supports would be level, the correct distance apart, and square, hopefully!

PostTemplate.png
 

Sheptonphil

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One step I have missed already, is the method used to ensure that the post feet were in the correct location.

I simply had two pieces of 4x4, with some lengths of 4x2 separating the two post pieces the required distance apart to create a template. I then placed one end of my post template in to the first fixed Post Support and then dug a hole at the right place for the next Post Support. So-on and so forth with a mind to keeping what would be the post frame square. Digging the hole, there wasn't the need for perfect accuracy, but once I was setting the concrete, I left the template in place. Bearing in mind I was only doing one Post Support at a time, but once the Concrete was set enough (I left it 3hrs or so) to take the weight of the template at one end. At the other end, I placed the Post Support in to the concrete on the free end of the template and tapped down so the template was level, and left it in place for a couple of hours. This would mean the Post Supports would be level, the correct distance apart, and square, hopefully!

View attachment 128407
I like that sort of templating. I use it often, and it makes the job so much easier and accurate. Well worth the effort to plan it out and make the jigs/templates. Also, never underestimate the value of a simple length of building line to keep things perfectly aligned.

I’m loving this WIP
 

50020

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I like that sort of templating. I use it often, and it makes the job so much easier and accurate. Well worth the effort to plan it out and make the jigs/templates. Also, never underestimate the value of a simple length of building line to keep things perfectly aligned.

I’m loving this WIP
Thanks. I did intend on doing the posting almost real-time, but it took me longer to build than I expected, with work and looking after the two this is meant for also requiring my time. Not that I mind. I thought if I did it real time, there might be too long between posts.

And Yes, templates and jigs are invaluable to someone with my limited skills. It means that the consistency is there - which I have found a great help.
 

50020

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Once the towers were complete, I needed to complete the support for the floors. This was to be 18mm ply. I can't say I put a right lot of thought in to this, other than this would comfortable take the weight of 2-10 year olds trying their best to make a trampoline out of it! I had support at the front and rear of the 'cabin' area, but it needed support in the middle. A further length of 4x3 cut and attached 90 degrees to the bearers, just the same as in the previous step. I also cut lengths of 4x3 for the bridge. The length of these was left as long as I had of the lengths left over to provide extra support for the cabin floor and why wouldn't you? While the edge floor supports were fastened through the posts, this luxury wasn't there for the floor centre supports or the bridge supports. A vertical fastening, coach bolt was used, but I would have to notch out underneath for the floor for the coach bolts. With the weight of the timber itself, along with the securing of the floor they weren't going to go anywhere, but secured this way it would take any pressure off the floor surface fixings. I also had to fasten the front veranda floor support this way. The veranda would be deck board rather than the 18mm which is purely inside the cabin.

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A quick look to see just how level the floor is, and I was happy with the result.

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After the support for the floor, I thought it best to start on the roof next. The roof as per plans was to be an apex style, and I suppose vaulted, as I didn't want the height inside limited by the rafters. I was initially going to support the rafters on the top of the posts, and even initially drew it this way in SketchUP, but this limited me to two rafters per tower. There was no way a roof this length could be supported from front to back, especially from over the veranda on the left tower. Looking for examples on the net also didn't provide much inspiration, so I decided I would have rails, running from front to back, bolted to the top of the posts, again using huge M16 bolts. I would rest, and secure the rafters on these rails at appropriate gaps.

It was imperative that the rails were parallel front to back, and level. This would ensure that the shape of the roof panels be rectangular and I wouldn't end up with any peculiar overhangs. This did involve me cutting a slight notch in one of the rails where it was fastened to the rear post to narrow it a bit. This had the added complication of widening the distance between the rails slightly at the front over the veranda, however this was only mm's, so this could be brought in with the attaching of the rafters, when this was done later. This along with the attaching of the roof panels, which would also keep it square.

The roof rails/supports are only on the left hand tower at this time, but hopefully this explains what I was meaning, and it explains my vision!

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50020

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The rafters. After putting the roof support rails on the right tower, it was time to affix the rafters. The roof was designed at an angle of 30degreess. I cut the rafters, all 14 of them to size, and I used a template to fix the 120degree angle at the apex. I was using a ridge board 18mm thick, so I cut a filler piece which I would use in a template. I measured where the crows-foot would be and cut this out of all 14 rafters. The roof supports were all pretty much parallel so I was confident that if all cut in the same place, I could jiggle them in to place to be fixed. I placed two rafters and a piece of 18mm thick 4x2 ply in the template and fastened the two rafters together. This would enable me to move them to the fixing location and fasten them in place, pending the fitting of a ridge board, which would strengthen and firm things up. Sadly I have no photo of the template ....

Right hand tower with rafters in place, with temporary place holders for ridge board ....

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Left hand tower, with the rafters in place, and the ridge board in place. This was surprisingly rigid

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The eagle eyed might notice that I had put the floor in for these steps. The risk of falling was too high for me without proper support and I am allergic to pain - so I cut the 18mm ply to size for the floor, which could be lifted in and out as required. Also to prevent damage, note the 18mm OSB board under the steps. OCD has it's uses.

Another view of the ridge board.

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50020

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The roof boards. I used 12mm OSB for the roof, and each plane (?) was made of one piece, screwed in to the rafters. I allowed for an overhang at the bottom of about 50-60mm which would allow me to fasten a shaped piece of 2"x2" to fasten the felting to at a later date. Paying attention to the roof rails/supports being parallel and square paid dividends when cutting and affixing the roof.


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Overhang shown here ...

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flying haggis

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when the kids get fed up with it, remove the floor and drop it down, clad the sides and your shed is done......

Ps are you putting in any diagonal bracing anywhere?
 

50020

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Ps are you putting in any diagonal bracing anywhere?
I haven't put any diagonal bracing anywhere. If the four posts were free to move, I would have done without a doubt, but the 4"x4" posts with the 4"x3" bolted in place, there was little to no deflection. Also when the floor is fastened down, along with the cladding screwed in place, I can't see there being any movement. Along with that, I am placing a 'stud' or a 'false wall' out of 3"x2" cls in the front of the left tower and the right hand side of the left tower to accommodate door and window frames, so this will also add rigidity. The right hand tower will have a climbing wall from top to bottom, so this will also arrest ant twist/rocking.
 

Ex-Counsel

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This is fantastic! I would certainly be giving this a go if I had the space in the garden. Unfortunately, it's just not big enough for all of the things we want to fill it with (a work shed being one of them!)
 

50020

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Apart from balancing on the ladder, the roofing was quite straightforward and as can be seen from the picture below, looked good. I didn't want to put too much pressure on the roof by leaning on it. The rafters were secured at the bottom with coach screws, to each other through the ridge board at the top, and the tie half way down - but I still had visions of them splaying apart under load! When complete, there would be cladding up the rear wall, up the front wall, and on the rafter over the veranda, so I was confident this would keep it true and rigid.

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When I was breaking off at the end of the day, I made sure I had enough time to cover the OSB with roofing felt. This would not be the finished effect on the roof, but it was enough to weatherproof it until I was ready to put shingles on. The shingles would be fitted over the felting anyway. Worthy of note, was that the Roof pro Green Shed felt only has a life expectancy of 5 years. I am hoping to get 6-8 years out of the play centre for the children, so with shingles on top, this should be achievable.

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With the roofs on both towers fitted and felted, it was time to turn my attention to the left tower. First the flooring and then the false walls on two sides, it will make sense later on in the thread. Also, we were just about to go to Cornwall for a week at this point, so after I had fitted the floor, 18mm ply, I needed to shelter it from any possible rain. A trip to the co-op for a roll of cling film, which was wrapped around the tower. I could have lifted the floor again, but I had fastened it down with a KG of screws and I didn't wan't to disturb the fixings unless necessary.

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manicminer

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Great work. I have wanted to build something similar for my kids for years now, but now they are probably too old. Good luck with the rest of the project.
 

50020

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Sorry for the interlude! Next I have boarded the structure with the floor. I have used decking boards on the right tower, and the bridge. For reasons I cannot remember now, I had deck boards of two slightly different designs but it was probably down to sourcing them from different locations. This meant the fixing points were slightly different. Rightly or wrongly, I drilled pilot holes in the deck boards once cut to size. I used a simple template so I could literally overlay this over the end of the board, and drill the holes in the right place in the board to be affixed. I looked up (using google admittedly) which was the best way to fasten deck boards down, and I found a mix between either screwing on the ridges, or between the ridges. What surprised me was that there was so many experts or professionals on the matter of decking! I decided my own was, with the securing screws going between the ridges.

Template used for ensuring accurate and consistent fixing points... The Marked 37mm provided approximate location of the middle of the 4"x3"

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The underside of some of the boards needed notched cutting out to allow for the coach bolts I used for fastening down the bridge rails.

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Deck boards were simply shaped to fit around the support posts.

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A pile of thin strips of deck board. I cut a bunch of lengths in to 2mm width strips. These were used to provide consistent gaps between the boards. I also found it satisfying cutting a bunch of 2mm wide strips!!

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Deck boards all cut and laid in position before screwing down.

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50020

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Sorry for the delay in the next instalment. Life, an extension started on the house and a short break have given my time, and wallet an absolute pummelling. Thankfully the internet at work is free.

The eagle eyed amongst you will notice the picture above has a tower wrapped in cling film. This was because of a holiday, and you know the British weather is about as reliable a politicians word. To prevent damage any rain damage to the 18mm Ply which had been laid, pending the fitting of the cladding.

Frame up, floor down - it was time to sort the walls of the left tower. The facing wall was to have a window and door, and the right hand wall was to have a door across the bridge, and therefore these would need frames for such. Using 3" x 2" CLS, after all it should be dry in there, I fastened in a frame. This frame would give me something to hang a door from, along with something to fasten the cladding too.

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On the front wall, you can see one of the posts was not perfectly vertical. This didn't matter so much as I have packed out the door frame.

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Before I could continue with the walls, I had to make the window, and put the frame in. I would be using Perspex for the windows and the windows in the doors, so the frame would need to accommodate this. For the window frame I used 2" X 2" PSE (so it had the square edges) and just used simple half-lap joints, glued at the ends. I did look at how proper house windows were put together, but this would have been pushing the boundaries of my skills (exceeding) and was unnecessary really. A simple frame with some beading pinned and glued on the inside. This would give a relief (is that the right term) for the Perspex to sit against, which would then be held in with quadrant beading.

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The quadrant beading was cut to size and dry fitted. Plenty of room there for some nice thick clear Perspex.

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Once I had the window size, I could then finish off the window surround in CLS on the front wall. For a windowsill, this was 3/4" board cut to shape, with the corners removed (to prevent damage to children!). The sperate window frame would simply sit within this aperture, for want of a better word.

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