We live in an era that you can rent anything, from a sports stadium (Madison Square Garden goes for $250K a night) to a dog (animal lovers with commitment issues can use borrowmydoggy.com). You can definitely rent some serious heavy equipment out there which, when used correctly, can take care of some major chores.
The DIY age has enabled many a weekend warrior to cut cost on work which professional contractors provide a hefty bill. There are rental companies in every city in America, that for the day, the average Joe can rent what he needs to getter done. As a contractor myself in the tree and landscape biz, I have seen my share of these projects taking place in the suburban workplace. As end results go, it can obviously go either way.
Here are some things to consider before bringing home an army of equipment to take on a project.
- Google your project.
That’s right, type it in, I am sure you’re not the only cowboy in the country looking for their first rodeo. There’s a host of others that have decided to put a roof on their house over Labor Day, or clear the back lot and put in a pool. Use a google search to find out what kind of equipment they ended up needing (or wish they had gotten!), how difficult the project was, and any regrets they have now. You can usually find before and after pictures. The web is always a good place to start.
- What equipment will you need?
For example if you are trying to clear 2 acres of woods for a new backyard, what gear will you need? Renting a Bobcat will work great for a project like this, but you will probably need some other stuff. You’ll at least a good chainsaw and some way to haul debris. The prospect of running a skid steer machine all weekend appeals to the inner man strongly, but there will be less glamourous ( and dangerous !) items to procure before you can attempt a large job. A lot of tools that contractors own are business investments, meaning they are never paid for by just one job. It takes day after day production to justify buying a fleet of pro style chainsaws (most tree services own several thousand dollars’ worth).
You should keep in that some DIY projects would make your homeowners company cringe. As a tree contractor, I have over a Million Dollars in coverage on each of my major policies (Liability, Workers Compensation, and Auto). The hazards of projects aren’t always contained to your own yard. In neighborhoods in America houses are often close together and kids know no boundaries. It’s very easy for a weekend tree job to spill over property lines and the results could cause property damage or worse. It would be a good idea to call your insurance agent and ask if you are covered for home improvement, describe your intentions and listen carefully to the feedback they give. Chances are they going to say no to anything to risky. Remember, you only pay a contactor once. You can lose the right to be insured at a reasonable rate with just one incident. You could lose the livelihood of your family forever in the event of a death or serious injury!
- Cost effectiveness
Get some bids on your project. If you are going to rent a tractor to put in your lawn at a rate of $350 per day, and you need 4 days to get the job done, is it worth it? Remember your time is worth something as well. I often need heavy mechanic work done on my equipment and it just so happens that I can turn a wrench. I realized one time after taking off a day to put a clutch in my bucket truck, that after buying the part ($600), and performing the labor outside in 90 degree in full sun, I could make a better choice. Instead, I could have made $1500 at my specialty and paid a pro mechanic about the same to do the job (with a full warranty parts/labor). I could have also spent the day with my kids and wife, I pay a lot to do this every year as well on vacation. Trade Craft is a term which is definitely underused, these are tricks that service providers use on a daily business to perform their duties at lightning speed. It’s hard to beat trade craft, and it would be nice to rent this along with the Bobcat, but it is usually not available at rental companies!
I don’t doubt that many homeowners can do their own tree and landscaping work. If a homeowner can save money taking off work and do it their selves, I applaud them. Just do it safely. Protect yourself and others by being responsible and making good decisions.