6 Considerations for Renting Construction Equipment

6 Considerations for Renting Construction Equipment

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 renting process, helping you select the right model and size of equipment for your project needs. There are plenty of construction equipment options to choose from. Ask yourself the following questions to pick the machines that help you stay safe and productive on your next project.

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1. What Type of Project Is It?

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

  • 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.
  • Industrial construction and mining: On the industrial side of things, you might consider heavy equipment like off-highway trucks and telehandlers for hauling and hoisting materials safely. Heavy construction and mining require rugged machines designed for high-capacity performance. Because these projects are so involved and often take many months to complete, there’s a wider variety of machine types used to perform these contracts.
  • Infrastructure and civic works: If the project involves infrastructure development, contractors need specialty equipment like pipelayers, cold planers and road pavers for road construction and utility installations. Generally, these types of projects require a variety of heavy-duty earthmoving machines, as well as aerial lifts that can perform under all conditions. Since these projects tend to be time-sensitive and budget-sensitive, contractors need reliable, specialized equipment that can maximize productivity and minimize 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 optimize your productive output.


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 in level of versatility from highly flexible, all-around workhorses to uniquely engineered machines for niche performance. 

Generally, earthmoving equipment is some of the most versatile equipment. 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 has the ability to 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 to trenching to material hauling by switching out the work tool. 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, there are attachments like augersbrooms and brushcutters, which 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 or pipeline building require specialty machines that were 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 for 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 tires.

Overall, tires 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 streets. 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 stabilizes better, doesn't sink into the ground and can also climb hills easier, which is a benefit on sloped job sites.

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

When making the critical decision between tracks or tires, consult a knowledgeable rental equipment expert to help you choose the best option for your project.

4. What Size Is the Project Area?

Once you have a good idea of the scope of your project, you need to consider the physical area you’ll be working in. Residential or commercial lots tend to be smaller, meaning you’re limited to 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 places, but will they be able to turn around?

When it comes to determining size limitations, also consider any height restrictions you’re facing. Overhead beams, powerlines or other obstructions will limit your reaching capacity when renting lift machines or telehandlers. That’s why it’s important to choose the right type of aerial lift, such as one with an articulating arm, so you can overcome height restrictions.

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 with inexperienced operators.

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 much more maneuverable 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. Compact equipment can easily tow behind a standard pickup truck. 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 size 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’s 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. Modern 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, it’s critical to hire 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 and better manage multiple projects at once 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.

Popular Construction Equipment to Rent

When deciding what equipment to rent, it’s important to have a good idea of the range of options available to you. If you’re still undecided about the right type of machine to rent, consider these popular construction equipment rentals and the applications they’re useful for. 

1. Earthmoving Equipment

Earthmovers perform a wide variety of tasks by moving large amounts of material, usually dirt, rocks, gravel and sand. In addition to moving material from one location to another, you can also use them to move heavy pieces of equipment or other large objects that are too big or heavy to move around by hand. Earthmovers can be fitted with a wide range of attachments, transforming them into whatever your job needs.

Some popular earthmoving equipment includes:


  • Backhoe loaders: Backhoe loaders, wheel loaders, compact track loaders and skid steer loaders all share a similar front end bucket used to haul materials from one location to another. Backhoe loaders differ in that they enable the operator to swivel around in their seat so they can use the backhoe attachment for digging and trenching.
  • Compact track loaders and skid steer loaders: Compact track loaders and skid steer loaders are usually smaller relative to the other equipment, giving them the advantage of fitting in smaller areas and performing tasks in environments where larger machines would be unable to operate.
  • Dozers: Dozers come in a wide range of sizes and are primarily used for clearing large amounts of debris. Typically used in road building, lot clearing, forestry and mining, dozers make use of their main front blade to scrape the earth and clear a path. They’re efficient machines where land needs to be cleared to make way for new developments, agricultural activities and even in battling forest fires.
  • Excavators: Excavators are versatile machines specializing in digging and trenching. They can be fitted with a range of attachments, such as augers, compactors and rakes.
  • Wheel loaders: Wheel loaders are similar to compact track loaders and skid steer loaders, with their front bucket capable of transporting large amounts of material quickly. Where the wheel loaders stand out is their articulated steering system making for smooth operation. Wheel loaders are also equipped with a gearbox for faster travel, making them perfect for distant material transport or for travel between work sites.

2. Aerial Equipment

Aerial equipment is used to lift personnel, equipment and materials to higher heights. It's a useful replacement for a ladder due to its ability to move along the ground and remain at height without constantly relocating the ladder. Some of the most popular aerial equipment includes:


  • Boom lifts: Boom lifts can lift personnel up to 180 feet. Their articulating design allows them to maneuver into locations that would otherwise be extremely difficult or impossible to reach with a ladder or scaffolding.
  • Material lifts: As their name suggests, material lifts are used to lift materials to higher heights. There are many instances in construction and renovation where heavier pieces of material or equipment need to be lifted safely and securely into place for installation. Whether it’s plywood, drywall, granite or objects like mirrors, televisions or chandelier lights, material lifts can make your job safer and easier.
  • Scissor lifts: Similar to boom lifts, scissor lifts raise personnel to higher heights. Scissor lifts typically have a smaller footprint and tend to weigh less than boom lifts. They can fit into areas where a boom lift can’t access. Scissor lifts can reach a maximum of approximately 50 feet.
  • Vertical personnel lifts: Vertical personnel lifts are similar to scissor lifts in their operation features but have a much smaller footprint and lighter weight. They can fit into tight areas and lift workers to perform their at-height tasks. Vertical personnel lifts are ideal for residential and commercial applications because their small size and weight enables them to be easily maneuvered manually.

3. Material Handling Equipment

Material handling equipment is designed to move materials around with efficiency and ease. There is a range of machines available that can make quick work of your material handling needs, including:


  • Forklifts: Forklifts are an essential piece of equipment for nearly every business or contractor that requires heavy objects or materials to be moved. From loading pallets stacked with materials into trucks to stacking containers into high rack storage in warehousing environments, forklifts are an irreplaceable tool. They can be used for a short time to organize and sort an environment or become a permanent piece of machinery depending on your needs.
  • Material handlers: Material handlers are excavator-like pieces of equipment with grapples that can grab materials like scrap metals, organic debris and rocks with precision. Their grapple claws make it easier to grasp materials than if you used a wheel loader or excavator. 
  • Telehandlers: Telehandlers are similar to boom lifts in their design and operation but are made for material transfer rather than personnel lifting. Telehandlers are ideal for environments where materials need to be lifted to higher heights or moved around a job site. They can save significant time and energy by lifting materials directly rather than moving them by hand.

Choose The Cat® Rental Store for High-Performance Rental Equipment

There's one final element to consider when renting the right machine — which construction rental provider will you choose? For expert knowledge, look no further than The Cat® Rental Store. With hundreds of locations globally, The Cat Rental Store is known for providing customers with well-maintained, high-quality construction equipment. 

Our dealers have the expertise and vast inventory to help you choose what equipment to rent for your next project. Find The Cat Rental Store near you today, or give our dealers a call at 1-800-RENT-CAT for more information.

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