Installing a game court in your backyard can be one of the best investments you will make for you and your family. Having some inside information into the sport court building process and what’s involved can help ensure a smooth and rewarding experience from start to finish.
1. SPORTS – Consider the sports you want to play on your court.
The answer to these questions will help you determine the right court size for your family’s needs:
- How old are your children?
- What sports are they currently involved in?
- What sports do you see them playing in the future?
- Do you play any sports?
On a typical mid-sized multi-purpose game court, as many as 15 games can be played. Shifting from one sport to another is typically very fast and easy. To a large extent, what sports you want to play will determine the size of court needed.
If basketball is your family’s primary sport, a 3-point line may be important. At 19 ½ feet from the rim, a full 3-point line requires a court at least 26′ x 45′ to allow a player to shoot from behind the line.
If volleyball or any other “net” sports are important, except full tennis, 30′ x 60′ allows for full court volleyball. The basketball hoop is often placed in the middle of the 60-foot side and used as the volleyball net posts as you can see in these photos:
This configuration allows for half court basketball with full court volleyball and other net sports on the same court. This size is very customizable and can be changed based on your family’s needs, allowing you to create the best backyard environment possible with a few other considerations.
2. SPACE – How much space do you have on your property for a backyard court?
We’ve discussed the space and environment inside a court, now let’s address the space requirements on your property.
- Generally, a court cannot be built inside your property’s setback lines
- Setbacks vary by town and zones within each town
- Some towns limit the amount of lot coverage allowed by zone
- Most towns consider non-permeable surfaces as “coverage”
- Many courts are built on asphalt or concrete, not permeable
- Courts cannot be built over septic systems
- Most towns will not allow a court to be built near wetlands
- The largest, flattest space will require the least amount of preparation
- The court should be placed far enough from large trees that roots will not be an issue
With a little preparation and knowledge, you should be able to design and build your dream backyard sports environment that your family will enjoy for years to come – after you get the appropriate permits from your town.
3. PERMITS – Does your town require a permit to build your dream court?
Your town may require a permit to build your dream court, so:
- Start early – it will almost always take longer than expected
- Involve your contractor – most will help with the process
- Find your property site or plot plan – it will tell you a lot
4. CONTRACTOR – Choosing the right contractor
Building a court is a unique major construction project for your home. Choosing the right contractor is critical.
- You cannot afford to use anyone unlicensed or uninsured
- Your contractor should provide you with drawings or plans
- As mentioned above, they should help with the permitting process
- Ask to see their work – experience building courts matters
- Ask how many courts they have built
- Ask them is this is their primary business
- Check them out – the internet is a wonderful tool
Now that you’ve chosen a court builder (hopefully SportProsUSA), here are some things they will discuss with you. Knowing about these topics and being prepared with questions and answers will help expedite the process.
5. ACCESS – How are they accessing my backyard?
Building a backyard court is a major construction project and access to the space is crucial.
- Most fencing can be taken down and put back up to allow access
- Limited access will limit the equipment that can be used resulting in more labor
- If you are using concrete as your base, a pump truck can be used to reach the court from a reasonable distance, at an additional cost
- The less access to your property, the higher the labor costs because all work will need to be done by hand
6. SUBBASE – How are they preparing the subbase?
The contours of your property will determine the amount of work required to create a large, flat and level area.
- Sod will be stripped away
- Court area sometimes needs to be leveled with a “cut and fill” – meaning dirt will be moved from one end of the court to the other in order to level
- If there is too much change in elevation from one end to the other, a retaining wall may be necessary
- Courts collect and direct a lot of water, drainage must be considered and an engineer may be required
- Drainage may be required for your permit; it will be installed first
- A crushed stone base is put down and compacted
Now you are ready for the base of your court to be built.
7. BASE – What are they using for the base?
This will create the hard, flat surface from which you can build your court.
- Generally built with concrete or asphalt though other options exist
- Concrete done right is permanent and will not require any maintenance
- Asphalt will deteriorate with repeated freeze-thaw cycles and at some point will require maintenance and/or repair
- A compacted base is made by layering smaller and smaller stone and compacting heavily, which will be permeable and require some maintenance
- Modular base – there are new types of bases available that require no concrete or asphalt and are very permeable
8. SURFACE – What athletic surfaces can I choose from?
“Let them play on concrete, that’s what we did” is a common refrain. Unfortunately, the more kids (and adults) that play on concrete, the more injuries – especially to the growth plates and joints.
- Concrete or asphalt can be left with no further surfacing
- Painting the surface looks better but provides no cushioning and becomes slippery when wet
- Acrylics can be applied to add a very small layer of protection
- A cushioned surface can be applied and layered with acrylic. However, this option is almost exclusively for tennis use and does not tolerate many other sports and various climates
- Modular surfaces offer varying degrees of protection for Given their design, they are engineered with small “legs” that absorb shock and openings that allow water to pass through and flow off the court
Your experienced Sport Court Builder can discuss the best options for your family’s needs, your specific property, and the general climate trends that can affect the lifetime and performance of various surfaces.
9. MANUFACTURER – Who is the manufacturer?
As you move down this list, you might realize that manufacturing is one of the most important aspects of this process. You will spend a lot of time, money and energy invested in this project – don’t waste it on inferior products that will only lead you to invest more in the future.
- Are you dealing with a reputable, high-quality manufacturer?
- Where is the product made?
- What sort of quality control processes do they have?
- Is the manufacturing process environmentally conscience?
- How long have they been in business?
- How many courts have they installed?
- How do these courts look after a few years?
Quality manufacturers offer quality warranties, stand by the products they make and are proud of their manufacturing process.
10. WARRANTY – What is the warranty for the product?
Sometimes things can go wrong with any surface – be sure to read the fine print on any warranty to ensure yourself and your family a lasting, happy relationship with your new court.
- Generally, there are no warranties on
- Acrylics warranty is usually not long as most acrylics must be reapplied every couple of years
- Modular surfaces offer a range of warranties, often 10 years or more
- Has the manufacturer been in business longer than their warranty period?
- A good modular warranty will cover you completely for the first 3-4 years, and then become prorated for the balance
- Seriously, read the fine print regarding the warranties.
We hope this guide will be helpful as you start to plan for your dream court. We look forward to answering any additional questions that you may have. Contact us for pricing and to arrange a free, no-obligation evaluation of your property.