If you need inspiration to keep your kids busy this summer, look no further than this incredible handmade climbing frame.

Craig Charlton, 35, a dad of two from southeast England, wanted to build his kids the climbing frame of their dreams, but didn’t want to spend a fortune on a shop-bought one.

Instead, he built one himself, watching YouTube videos for help and inspiration. 

Similar frames can cost up to £9,000 online, so Craig is pretty chuffed that he pulled off his project for £2,000. 

‘We recently moved into our new house and wanted something to help keep the kids entertained,’ Craig told money-saving Facebook group DIY On A Budget UK.

‘We looked at the climbing forts available online and they were either rubbish quality or hugely expensive, but you get what you pay for. I wanted the best of both worlds, to have my cake and eat it, so instead, I decided to build my own.

‘I looked at YouTube videos and the frames available commercially then just cobbled together all the best elements of each design.’ 

Craig wanted his build to last for years, so he made sure to invest in high-quality treated timber.

The first step was removing the turf and laying a sub-base for the garden slabs so he had a flat, solid foundation to work on.


‘Then it was time for the 4×4 posts as the main uprights tied together with cross members,’ he says. ‘I then put up the walls of the “den” and the surrounds for the window and doors, laid the decking, and built the stairs, scramble board, rock wall and steps.

‘I put the roof on, stained the whole structure, added accessories and filled up the sandpit.’


Craig says building the wobbly bridge took a lot longer than anticipated.

‘My tips are to get the design right first,’ he adds. ‘It’s so much easier and quicker when you are not problem solving and scratching your head every five minutes.

‘Lay a solid foundation and make sure it’s nice and flat. And get good quality timber and hardware so it lasts – it’s going to take more timber than you think and with the increasing timber price you need to find a good timber merchant who isn’t going to rip you off.’

He also says it’s a good idea to enlist some help from loved ones if you can.

‘It’s easier with two people – unfortunately my fiancé was pregnant at the time so I wasn’t afforded that luxury,’ he explains.

‘Don’t forget the cost of the tools. If you haven’t got a mitre saw, stand, drills, drivers, clamps, spirit levels (the list goes on), it’s all going to add to the job cost – but once you have them you can put them to use on many other projects.

‘I had great fun building it and it’s so rewarding when we see the kids having fun. It’s great when they have their friends and young cousins over to play.

‘All in all, it was about £2,000, including all the timber, hardware and accessories. For something this size and quality, that represents a significant saving.’

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