**A word about online companies with fraudulent reviews**
A company that sells playsets (and other products) yet doesn't offer installation of those products will often write their own reviews, seemingly from customers that assembled their own playsets with ease. They do this to sell you their product, plain and simple. They know nothing about the actual assembly of their playsets, because they have never installed any playsets.
If a company cannot, or will not allow potential customers to verify their reviews- the reviews are fake.
I have personally installed more than a thousand playsets, of all shapes and sizes. When you speak with me, you'll understand I am extremely knowledgeable on the topic. I have actual customers, with Google verified reviews, that I can contact should you need any references. I offer installation on all my products, and I have actually assembled my playsets.
1. How do I choose the right manufacturer?
After years of installing everything out there, I decided to carry two specific lines: Gorilla Playsets and Playmor. Both manufacturers offer many different and unique designs (Playmor has a fantastic Poly coated line). Both companies also have exemplary customer service, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either one.
Please feel free to ask any questions regarding models, space requirements, age appropriate features, etc. Again, having installed more than a thousand playsets, I'm an expert. I can definitely help you choose the right model.
2. Yard level/unlevel- is this important?
The more level a yard/area is, the better a playset will "sit" on the ground. Your yard doesn't need to look like a hockey rink (100% level and flat) but it also shouldn't resemble the side of a mountain. Generally when customers have questions regarding this, I will ask them to send me some photos of the area. I can usually tell with certainty whether the area is sufficiently level.
If the area is not level, there are minor adjustments that can be made to every playset that will not affect the warranty, or the integrity of the set. I have made these adjustments hundreds of times, without issue. There are times when the ground level is off by more than 6" or so, and I can also advise the best course of action in those cases.
3. Regarding installation- should I hire a professional, or attempt to assemble it myself?
As mentioned above, when you read online reviews about how easy or uncomplicated installing a playset is- I would beg to differ. Having installed playsets for the better part of 20 years, I know what's involved. Here are some "headaches" the average homeowner encounters when self-installing:
Most household tools- whether hand tools, cordless drills and the like- are not properly designed to install playsets. The $40. cordless drill you bought from the big box store is great for putting together a bookcase, but is not strong enough to fasten most hardware together on a playset. A 4x4 coated wood post found on many playsets requires heavy duty lag screws to be inserted; that $40. cordless drill simply isn't strong enough to handle the job. What that means is this task will take you an inordinate amount of time, if it can be done at all. Specialized hardware also requires specialized tools (#2 Robertson bits, odd sized drill bits, etc.) that the average homeowner doesn't have.
I'm not saying the task is impossible, but from experience I know the troubles that frequently arise during installation. I have experienced all of these issues, many times. What I would suggest is to weigh the pros and cons such as time involved, tools required as mentioned above, skill level, etc. Having a professional with years of experience, verifiable 5-star reviews and the knowledge that your playset will be installed safely is a wise decision.
**If there are parts/pieces damaged from your delivery, and I have them with me (small parts i.e. wood slats, hardware, etc- this does not include any slides) the installation will be finished that day. Should major components be missing (slides, entire boxes of wood pieces, etc.) prior to the install date, I will assist with getting those components expedited to you. However I cannot hold reserved dates in that case as I have no control over the shipment of these replacement parts.
**Any company that insists their customers pay the balance of the installation in cash should be avoided at all costs. You have little to no recourse should something go wrong with the installation (I will never insist a customer pay me cash for the installation). I've read that "installers don't have the time to do banking, etc. as they travel great distances". It takes me literally 3 minutes to deposit a check on my mobile banking app.