6 Things To Consider Before Renting Construction Equipment

27 January 2022

Many factors go into renting the right equipment — from project needs to space constraints to fuel costs to operator experience. A trustworthy construction rental provider will walk you through the rental process, helping you select the right model and size of equipment for your project’s needs. There are plenty of construction equipment options to choose from. Ask yourself the following questions to pick machines that will help you stay safe and productive on your next project.

1. What type of project is it?

The first thing to consider is the type of project you’re contracted to do. There are a few broad categories of construction equipment based on the types of projects the machines are best suited for:

  • Landscaping and general construction: To tackle residential or small commercial contracts, landscapers and general contractors need compact, versatile equipment to perform a variety of tasks. You’ll likely need the help of earthmoving equipment, like excavators, loaders and dozers. These machines are designed to dig up earth for foundations or landscaping installations and smooth out terrain for construction or planting. They can also remove rock and debris from construction sites, helping with general cleanup. Compact equipment for general construction and landscaping tends to be easy to use and widely available.
  • Infrastructure and civic works: Generally, these types of projects require a variety of heavy-duty earthmoving machines that can perform under all conditions. Since these projects are often time and budget-sensitive, contractors need reliable, specialised equipment that maximises productivity and minimises project costs.

Whether your project is residential, commercial or industrial, and in rugged or ideal outdoor conditions, renting construction equipment is a smart option to reduce overhead costs and optimise productivity.

2. What level of versatility do you need?

After considering the broad categories of project types, the next important factor when choosing what equipment to rent is the level of versatility you require. Construction machines range from highly flexible, all-around workhorses to uniquely engineered machines for niche performance.

Generally, earthmoving equipment is very versatile. Today’s construction equipment is designed to universally attach to an impressive range of work tools. Having so many attachments available for a single type of machine allows you to get the most for your money when renting equipment.

Whether renting a skid steer loader, wheel loader or excavator, your rental can be outfitted with multiple types of attachments. You can perform various job site duties without having to rent a whole new machine. For example, by renting a compact wheel loader, you can do everything from lot clearing to digging, trenching and material hauling by switching out the work tools. Bucket attachments, in particular, are very flexible and allow you to perform a variety of jobs with a single machine and only one attachment.

On the specialty end of things, attachments like augers, brooms and brushcutters help you perform niche tasks. In many cases, there’s no need to rent an entirely new machine — simply swap out the work tool and get the next duty done. Alternatively, some projects like road construction require specialty machines designed for a specific kind of job. While this equipment may not be as versatile as an excavator or loader, it's the right machine for the project and what you need to stay safe and productive on these demanding jobs.


3. What are the job conditions?

Next, it’s time to consider your job site conditions. Working in the elements always presents uncertainty, especially in extreme-weather regions. That’s why you need to pick the equipment that’s best suited for handling certain types of terrain. You have two broad categories to choose from when addressing concerns about job site conditions — tracks or tyres.

Overall, tyres are better for stable, solid conditions where the terrain isn’t at risk of giving way. They’re also useful for on-road driving, as they tend to be permitted on public roads. However, tracks may be best if you’re operating in muddy, wet, snowy or generally unstable terrain.

Tracked machines evenly distribute weight over a larger surface area, giving the equipment more traction. With higher traction, the machine stabilises better, doesn't sink into the ground and can also climb hills more easily - a benefit on sloped job sites.

Here are the types of equipment to choose from when deciding between tracks or tyres:

  • Equipment with tracks: Both loaders and excavators come with the option for tracks. With loaders, you have the option for a track loader, compact track loader or a multi-terrain loader. With excavators, a range of sizes from mini to full-sized come equipped with rugged, stabilising tracks. Tracks are made from either rubber or steel.
  • Equipment with tyres: Classic wheeled machines include skid steer loaders and wheel loaders in both the compact and full-size options. Wheel excavators are useful if you’re using the machine to transport material across or between sites, particularly if you plan to drive the machine on roads. Wheel dozers, backhoe loaders and motor graders also come with tyres.

4. What size is the project area?

Once you have a good idea of your project’s scope, you need to consider the physical area you’ll be working in. Residential or commercial lots tend to be smaller, meaning limits on the size of equipment you can rent. Larger machines, such as full-size wheel loaders, might be more efficient, but you’ll need to consider whether there’s enough space for them to safely operate. You might be able to get them into place, but will they be able to turn around?

Choosing the right size of construction equipment is crucial for productivity, safety and overall performance. You want to get the biggest size of machine possible without overdoing it. Bigger machines are more efficient and much more suitable for heavy construction projects. Larger capacity loaders cover more ground, haul bigger loads, move more earth and generally get more done in less time. But on smaller projects, full-size equipment can overcomplicate things and pose safety risks.

Compact machines also have their perks. While they can’t haul or move as much material at once, they are much more energy-efficient, saving you on fuel costs. They’re also much more manoeuvrable in tight spaces and are generally easier to operate. For this reason, they’re considered safer on residential or commercial job sites. Operators in smaller machines tend to have better visibility, meaning there’s less risk of running over people or objects.

Finally, you’ll need to consider transportation. Heavy equipment is harder to transport, sometimes requiring a flatbed truck, while you can easily tow a compact machine behind a standard ute. While reputable rental companies are fully capable of delivering your equipment to the job site no matter the size, they’ll typically charge a delivery fee for heavy transportation. Towing compact equipment rentals yourself can save you money, as long as it’s the right sized machine for your project.

5. What is the operator's experience level?

When considering the right size of equipment for the job, it’s crucial to think about who will be operating the machine. Compact construction equipment like skid steer loaders, compact wheel loaders, compact track loaders and mini excavators are designed to be easy to handle. The  technology built into newer models of compact construction equipment makes operating these versatile machines much easier and safer. Even people with limited experience can operate compact equipment with the right guidance. 

People with limited operating experience shouldn’t jump into full-size heavy equipment right away. In these cases, you may want to consider hiring a professional who has undergone the correct training, is certified and has the experience necessary to safely and efficiently handle larger machines.

Construction sites are high-risk areas, and safety is always a top priority. Operators need to know how to operate the machine itself, while maintaining lots of other responsibilities. They need to watch for nearby pedestrians or other workers, account for overhead power lines, consider underground piping and stay vigilant to any nearby hazards.


6. How long do you need the equipment for? 

A final consideration when deciding what equipment to rent is how long you need the machine for. Figuring out the rental term ahead of time can help you adequately price your project, better manage multiple projects or line up projects back to back.

When thinking about rental contract lengths, you need to consider other aspects of the project and whether you need to wait for one stage to be finished before you can get to work. You might only have a narrow window of time when you need the rental, and having the equipment lined up for this time frame is essential. Longer projects incur more operating costs, so getting a more fuel-efficient model is a wise choice.

Working with an experienced, reputable rental provider can help ensure you get the exact model of construction equipment you need when you need it. Rental companies typically offer flexible contracts. Daily rates tend to be more expensive than weekly rates, which typically include a discount for a longer term. Monthly rates tend to be the most cost-effective, but they might not be necessary.

Since projects don’t always go according to plan, you also need a rental provider who can remain flexible and extend your contract if the project runs over the estimated timeline. Always ask your rental provider about their contract terms to make sure you can secure the equipment for an extended time if needed.