Backyard playhouse and sandbox

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Project by ayryq posted 07-28-2012 06:43 PM 20396 views 11 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yesterday I finished this playhouse and sandbox, just in time for a bunch of kids to come use it at my son’s 1st birthday party last night. It’s from a plan in Workbench magazine, available from Rockler or PlansNow. The plan includes a swingset which I left off, and has it freestanding on 4×4 posts. I sank those 4×6 posts about 40” into cement, and used asphalt instead of cedar shingles, but otherwise followed the plan.

It’s been a big hit, and I think will get more use, for longer, than a comparably sized playground set or jungle gym would get.

The colors and style are to match the garage, which can be seen in the corner of the fifth picture.

On Rockler’s site, several people posted comments with pictures of theirs, which were very helpful in deciding to go ahead with it, and also in figuring out some of the details on which the plan was a bit sketchy.

16 comments so far

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3263 days

#1 posted 07-28-2012 07:54 PM

That is one good-looking play house ! I bet your place will be popular within your neighbourhood !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4078 days

#2 posted 07-28-2012 08:18 PM

Wonderful playhouse, like the window panes, very sturdy design for the long haul

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3907 days

#3 posted 07-28-2012 09:10 PM

I dreamt of those as a kid (I guess we all did). Great one, the sandbox being protected from the rain by the house is a neat idea! Props to Rockler for that.

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Kookaburra's profile


749 posts in 3299 days

#4 posted 07-28-2012 09:25 PM

I agree with Thomas – this is a play house that will get use on rainy days and days to hot to sit in the sun. This is a lovely design – nice and airy and well lit. I like your color scheme too. It is going to be fun to furnish it.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 4035 days

#5 posted 07-29-2012 12:02 AM

Nice! Will it qualify for FHA or VA? :D Good idea for the sandbox under the house. Handy when you get those summer showers. Thanks for sharing. Just thought- my son is looking for some acreage out of town. Would be a good project for his three young’uns.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3502 days

#6 posted 07-29-2012 04:58 AM

Woo – Hoo!!!! those kids are going to have fun fun fun ….... Wow simply wonderful.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View DocSavage45's profile


9048 posts in 3917 days

#7 posted 07-29-2012 05:09 PM

Lucky kids will have beautiful memories. I was going to build a tree house in our “Big Tree” in the yard. My dad had a nervous look in his eyes. “Thomas…If I build you a playhouse will you stay out of the tree?” I did and he did. Mine was a almost full sized room under our above ground porch in Chicago. Had a toy box, table and chairs, mag rack, and 3 windows that were full sized. And I remember all that went on as I grew older that happened there.

Nice work!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View ayryq's profile


95 posts in 3266 days

#8 posted 10-29-2012 01:45 AM

Here are some bonus pictures now that I’ve installed lighting in, around, and under the playhouse.

View frankiej4328's profile


1 post in 2207 days

#9 posted 04-20-2015 03:27 AM

I was thinking of building this for my kids. Can you tell me roughly how much it cost to build

View ayryq's profile


95 posts in 3266 days

#10 posted 04-20-2015 03:48 PM

I’m not sure – it’s been a few years now – but I think it was around $2000 with everything (hardware, slide, shingles, lighting, sand, lumber, paint). Certainly more than buying one from Menards would be.

And my kids still love playing in and on it – my oldest is 6 now, and I just added a nautical steering wheel to the railing.

I’ve also constructed a new cover for the sandbox, out of plastic fencing and pvc pipe. It lets water in but keeps cats out, and it’s light enough that my kids can move and replace it.

View msaeger's profile


2 posts in 2189 days

#11 posted 05-08-2015 03:01 AM

Did you sink the deck posts into the ground or do some other kind of anchoring? I got the plan and they don’t seem to say anything about this. I am thinking it may tip over if I didn’t anchor it in some way.

View ayryq's profile


95 posts in 3266 days

#12 posted 05-08-2015 12:56 PM

Yes, I dug postholes as deep as my digger let me – three feet or so – and left the four posts extra long. I assembled the four posts as a unit with the upper and lower stretchers and set the whole assembly into the holes. (This is REALLY heavy at this point. Find 3-4 helpers to level it.) Then I filled in the holes with concrete.

I don’t remember now – I think I may have had to buy 10-foot 4×6 posts for the front two, and 8-foot for the back.

It’s super strong and stable, and those little triangular gussets make it move noticeably less from side-to-side compared to front-to-back (helpful if you’re including the swingset). I’ve thought about adding more gussets in the front-to-back direction, but it really takes an adult trying hard to make it move at all, so I haven’t.

Finally, after a couple years of dealing with the tarp, I made some covers out of pvc pipe and plastic fencing. They’re light enough that my 3-year-old can get them off, they keep cats out, and they let water through.

View msaeger's profile


2 posts in 2189 days

#13 posted 05-08-2015 01:57 PM

Thanks for the reply.

The plan calls for 4×4’s but it sounds like you used something bigger? Is there anything else you did different than the plan you would recommend?

View ayryq's profile


95 posts in 3266 days

#14 posted 05-08-2015 06:53 PM

Yes, I used 4×6’s so that after I took out the 1.5” dado for the stretcher, I’d still have 4 inches. This changed slightly the seat construction around the sandbox. As I mentioned, I used extra-long posts and anchored them in the ground—I just went back and read my original post and it says I sank them 40”. Obviously, I left off the swingset altogether.

I added a skirt board to the bottom of the fence; I don’t think that was in the plan. I made my ladder slanted – I think it was vertical in the plan – and sank it one rung deep in the ground. I securely anchored the bottom of the slide as well.

If I were doing it again I’d probably try to do a more “conventional” roof instead of having the exposed beam, but for my first time doing a roof it was probably easier that way.

View Tyson14136's profile


2 posts in 233 days

#15 posted 09-14-2020 02:05 AM

Great build! Any chance you still have those plans?
[email protected]

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