If wood only grew on trees ... oh, wait. Let's try that again. If only pre-cut 2x4s and wood screws grew on trees ... yes, that's more like it. Unless your rich Uncle Fritz is in the lumber and construction business, building a backyard skate park is going to cost you money. How much money? That depends on whom you ask.
Rick Dahlen is a dad from Minnesota whose free online halfpipe plans have garnered millions of page views from eager do-it-yourselfers. According to Dahlen, you can build his entry-level halfpipe from $700 in materials in roughly 20 hours [source: Dahlen]. That's assuming you already own or have access to a jigsaw, which run anywhere from $50 to $150 new.
The folks at EasyHalfPipe.com sell plans for a slightly scaled-down version of Dahlen's halfpipe with materials running between $250 and $450, depending on lumber prices and location [source: EasyHalfPipe.com]. The plans, manual and a DVD instruction video cost an additional $30.
Does your dream skate park involve cement? That's surprisingly expensive, too. A full cement truck holds 10 cubic yards (7.65 cubic meters) of concrete, which sells for between $1,200 and $1,500, according to the manager of a San Diego skate park [source: Hamm]. To give you an idea of what it costs to build a large skate park, municipalities typically spend at least $350,000 to build a 10,000 square foot (929 square meter) public skate park [source: Balcom].
Before you begin to draft plans and entertain lofty fantasies for your backyard skate park, you need to decide -- with your spouse, of course -- how much money can reasonably be spent on this project. Unless your kid has Tony Hawk potential, this is probably not the time to take out a loan. Think of it as a long-term investment in your kids' physical health and coolness factor. If that's worth $1,000 to you, that's great. But that's up to you and your family to decide. Having a firm number before you start planning will keep costs and fantasies in check.
Now it's on to the planning stage!