How to Decide Whether to Buy or Rent Scaffolding?

How to Decide Whether to Buy or Rent Scaffolding?

If you need scaffolding equipment for your next project, you might be struggling with the decision to rent or buy. It can be tough call for project managers and each choice has its benefits. The following factors can help determine if buying or renting scaffolding is a better fit for you.

Length of Project

Generally speaking, you should rent scaffolding for jobs lasting three months or less. The cost of buying simply does not make sense for short-term jobs. The length of the project is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding between renting or buying scaffolding. Plus, if you are just getting started on a short-term project and unsure how many jobs will be coming your way, renting scaffolding is a safe choice. In fact, most smaller contractors usually rent needed equipment because they typically work on short projects, one at a time.

However, if you will be working on a job site for more than three months, or foresee needing the same scaffolding equipment down the road for a similar project, purchasing your own scaffolding may be the way to go. Rental fees can quickly add up if you continually rent equipment for every job site and the cost of purchasing scaffolding equipment can pay for itself in the long-term through repeat usage.

Amount of Scaffolding Needed

Before beginning down the purchasing path, consider the volume of equipment needed and where it will be stored. It is more costly to purchase than rent scaffolding equipment and the more equipment you need, the higher the costs. If you need scaffolding for a large job site, it might be more economical to rent and avoid storage costs.

At the same time, once you purchase the equipment you will need an offsite location to store the equipment when the job is finished. So, in addition to the cost of purchasing equipment, you also have to factor in the cost of real estate needed for storage and security of large scaffolding systems, which can be expensive.

Also, keep in mind that owning large scaffolding systems is not only an investment in equipment, but also the manpower required to inspect, maintain, and move the equipment in and out of your facility.

Your Experience Level

If you are considering buying scaffolding, it is essential that you are competently trained to erect and dismantle scaffolding elements. We typically recommend that only skilled contractors buy scaffolding, and even then a robust safety program must be in place. In addition to safety, you will need a trained crew to help erect and dismantle equipment to keep it functioning efficiently and stored properly. Here are some questions to consider when deciding if you have sufficient experience to make a scaffolding purchase:

  • How many years of experience do you have in the construction and scaffolding industry?
  • What certifications and scaffolding training courses have you completed?
  • How much hands on experience do you have with erecting and dismantling scaffolding in the marketplace?
  • How extensive is your knowledge of the proper OSHA rules and regulations of scaffolding?

Learning how to purchase, erect and store your own scaffolding takes time. However, a rented scaffold system can be easily and safely assembled and dismantled by a professional rental company while you are learning on the job. Relying on a third-party scaffolding rental company can greatly cut down on time and improve safety measures to keep your business running efficiently as you grow.

When considering whether to rent or buy scaffolding equipment, make sure there is no risk to the safety of your crew, the time commitment for your project, or the longevity of your scaffolding equipment due to lack of experience.

What is your budget?

On average, renting scaffolding is more affordable than buying on a per project basis. This savings leaves you with money to invest in other areas of your project, like safety equipment or other tools needed for the job. Depending on your budget, renting might make sense for you.

As mentioned above, scaffolding budgets are based on the volume of required equipment and length of the project. Most contractors and project managers rent scaffolding equipment for shorter term projects. If a project is 12-18 months or longer, purchasing equipment could be a consideration because monthly rental invoices would pay off the purchased gear. In addition, the equipment could be re-sold after the job is complete and you no longer need it to get some money back on your investment.

Here are a few rules of thumb to help you decide if your budget is more in line with renting or buying scaffolding.

  • Consider your company’s financial status as scaffolding cost more to purchase and rents for much less. Typical pricing is $40,000 per trailer load to purchase versus $2,000 per trailer load for a 28-day minimum rental billing cycle.
  • Can you charge the equipment back to clients in order to recoup the investment?
  • Determine what percent of your budget should be put toward scaffolding to decide whether renting or purchasing is the smarter choice.

When buying or renting scaffolding for your next job, do not risk blowing your budget or guessing what equipment will work for your specific application. Instead, find out if your scaffolding partner provides application engineering to ensure you have the correct equipment for your project requirements.

If you would like help determining what equipment to buy or rent, request a consultation with one of our experienced team members.


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