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Blog: Should You Buy or Rent Tools?

It can be difficult to decide when it’s best to rent tools or own them. For instance, if you need a concrete chipping hammer on your jobsite for a few days and it costs about $1,200 to buy one, should you buy it or rent it? There are several things to consider when making these decisions, so here are some thoughts that will help to clarify the issue.

When it’s best to buy

Mitch Burdick, strategic business development manager for Bosch Tools, Mount Prospect, Illinois, says there are several good reasons to buy small tools as opposed to renting them:

•    If you use a tool over and over again, it’s probably best to buy it.
•    If rental activity exceeds purchase price, consider purchasing the tool.
•    If a tool lasts longer than three years and requires little maintenance, it’s less expensive to buy. This includes both chipping hammers and rotary hammer drills, which are normally rented.
•    When you own a tool, you tend to bring it to a jobsite in case there is a need for it. It’s ready and available whenever it’s needed, and sometimes it solves problems unrelated to the tool’s original purpose.

Reasons for renting

Tom Hubbell, vice president of marketing and communications for the American Rental Association (ARA), Moline, Illinois, offers the following reasons for renting instead of owning:

•    The No. 1 priority for many contractors is to protect cash flow, and renting tools helps contractors do this. It’s even more important during times when the economy is down.
•    You always have the right tool for the right job. If you own a tool, you are tempted to use it for applications that might go faster with the tools that were designed for the job. Labor is the most expensive job cost, so the goal should be to make it more productive by using the right tools.
•    Maintenance is an issue for people—they want others to maintain tools and equipment. When you rent you have no responsibility for routine maintenance.
•    By renting you tend to use the latest technology and updated equipment, which increases the probability for higher productivity.
•    Some projects are located in quiet zones that require battery-operated tools and equipment, making rentals an attractive option.
•    Some contractors don’t have adequate storage for tools and equipment when they’re not in use. Theft can become an issue under these circumstances, too, making rentals a good alternative.
•    If a job requires more than one of the same tool, then a rental can be the best solution.

Renting and buying

Most contractors both rent and buy tools, and it’s rare that large contractors rent small tools. However, Hubbell says rental companies do lease things such as battery-operated drills/drivers and impact drivers

But the decision about whether to buy or rent usually focuses on tools that cost $500 or more. 

In any event, decisions about where to draw the line rest with how your company is organized for work. Hopefully the above considerations will help you define your position better.


Joe Nasvik is a writer and editor serving the construction and concrete industries. He has 18 years experience as a concrete contractor. Contact him at jnasvik@sbcglobal.net.

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