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EhmayWuntee, P.E.

Possible playhouse assistance for inclusive park

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I can go into more details later or in private, but I’m going to try and keep the initial post short. 

I work for a small city in Texas and the City Chamber of a Commerce does a leadership school every few years where they get a dozen or so people that work inside the city in various ways (bankers, realtors, government employees, school district, college, etc) to meet each other, learn about different organizations and parts of the system, and gain leadership experience. Ideally these are younger to middle age future leaders within the community. This year I am 1 of 15 members in the class and we just finished up our last of like 8 monthly sessions to learn from.

What remains is our class project which we decided is to raise funds and build an inclusive playground at an existing City park. (Inclusive meaning special abilities and wheelchair accessible equipment included). While small, our City seems to come together and make generous donations to useful projects like this especially when involving the children. 

Pretty much the last piece of equipment that we are interested in including is some custom 2 story playhouse likely made of wood. The size may be about 10x12ft or larger and it has yet to be designed. It would include an ADA ramp to reach the 2nd floor.

I am making this thread because I anticipate that this fort/playhouse is going to require a structural engineer to sign off on the final design which will hopefully be drawn by a local or semi-local drafter/architect. I am trying to see if this is something that someone here might take on for us if needed. 

We haven’t yet reached a point to consider budget since the design isn’t even started on the structure, but we would be hoping for someone to do this at a very reduced rate since it is being funded by donations and for a great cause. In other words, we can’t really justify or afford a $5000 contract or something just for the engineering review and stamp. Perhaps something like this isn’t too time consuming or much work to approve though. 

If anyone is interested in learning more and possibly helping out our group and class project, please respond or message me and we can go into more detail. A phone call may end up being the best way to start. 

Thank you for your consideration!

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So your NOT a PE? Are there no PEs within the vicinity that would want to volunteer the work? I dont know how isurance for PEs work but it may be that because they pay insurance on their practice that they cant do it for Free. If i were a PE i would be more than happy to try my best and be of help. Good Luck! 

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I'm not a S.E. which is what I anticipate would be needed. 

I do plan to try and find someone local, but don't have any contacts so it will be more of a cold call or email scenario on a few attempts. I thought reaching out here wouldn't hurt though and gave it a try.

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I'm curious why you think an SE will be required for a playhouse structure of less than 300SF? Is that a city / state mandated requirement? Typically small residential is OK if it conforms to the IRC. Look into this, talk with the jurisdiction that has authority and see what you need. Cool project, though. 

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I agree that an SE isn't required.  PE might be because it's for the public.  If I were the PE that's going to help/put my stamp on this, I'd make darn sure that any path for liabilty is well understood beforehand.  God forbid a disabled (or any) kid gets hurt playing on it.......

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I’ve never thought anything like this through before or paid any attention to it, it’s all new to me. I don’t know the rules for an S.E., had a feeling that a structure with multiple people on it would require someone to make sure it’s properly designed and supported. I will look into it more though especially if there is a size threshold before requiring it.

Obviously there has to be a line somewhere, you can’t just put up a pedestrian bridge or a high rise building without it being stamped. I could see random Joe Citizen building his homemade fort or tree house for 2 kids in the backyard and just go with his best judgement, but dozens of kids over years of time in a public place seemed like engineering approval to me.

I guess I just assumed any play structure including mass produced forts and play equipment could go through all that due diligence and help prevent lawsuits from a possibly poor and life dangering design. 

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Another thing to consider would be the logistics of making a ramp to a 2nd story would likely make this structure rather large and intricate simply due to the 5% max grades allowed to make it wheelchair accessible, unless you could build it into a hillside of some sort.  You could go up to 8% but the ramps have a maximum length and require periodic landings.

A 5% grade will give you 1 foot of vertical gain for every 20 linear feet of path, so for a 2nd story that is 5' off the ground you'd need a ramp that is 100' long.

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We did a similar class at a government I worked at (Excel by chance?) where we did a group and individual project.

 

Anyways our parks department would basically order these pre designed play ground structures (but 100X nicer than the standard one you would put in your background or a subdivision playground) and then would assemble them themselves - sort of like buying a "tuff shed" or similar where someone has already signed off on the design- there is so much liability in a new playground facility these days- especially one for all users. But they are pricey - may be worth looking into but I believe they are pricey - you could achieve the same result but not have to worry about the liability part. Just maybe more fund raising??

 

Either way good luck!

 

I believe there are enough standard codes available if your proposing to

Build something out of wood I don't think it would necessarily need to have a PE stamp it. I'm also assuming second story for a play ground is only going to be 6' off the ground?

 

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We honestly haven’t taken it that far yet and it’s also the last piece to the park so it isn’t 100% guaranteed to be included (or at least not by our class). We still need to make sure we can raise the funds needed for everything else first (plastic play structures, musical equipment, swing with harness, rubber surfacing, etc).

I do appreciate the suggestions though and things for us to consider/plan as we progress through this. 

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In our City we do what RG said.  We procure a vender that offers pre-designed modular playground equipment.  But be prepared to spend $40,000 for something basic up to over $300,000 for something extravagant. 

https://www.playgroundequipment.com/products/commercial-playgrounds/accessible 

https://www.gametime.com/products/playground-equipment/inclusive-play 

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Just to toss this in there, this was a good example that we found of what we may consider trying to include. The fact that it is a wooden structure meant we had a good chance of getting materials donated or at cost and then we could do the labor ourselves with ease.

MB_Playhouse.jpg

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1 hour ago, EhmayWuntee, P.E. said:

Just to toss this in there, this was a good example that we found of what we may consider trying to include. The fact that it is a wooden structure meant we had a good chance of getting materials donated or at cost and then we could do the labor ourselves with ease.

MB_Playhouse.jpg

I like it but I don't see that holding up to the elements.  I think it will look pretty worn pretty quickly. 

 

 

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