What is The Right Heavy Equipment For My Job?

What is The Right Heavy Equipment For My Job?

Whether you’re a contractor or homeowner heavy equipment rentals can help you tackle big projects in a timely and cost-effective manner. A job that might have taken hundreds of man hours can often be performed in a single day using the right piece of heavy equipment. While not so long ago trying to find heavy duty rental equipment could be a tedious process today heavy equipment rental is one of the fastest growing sectors of the construction industry making heavy equipment rental as convenient as it is smart. Below we’re going to look at some of the factors you need to consider in order to make sure you wind up with the right heavy equipment rental at the right heavy equipment rental rates for the job at hand.


  1. Common Types of Rental Equipment
    There are 5 main types of heavy equipment:

1.     Construction (mini excavators, backhoes etc)
2.     Material handling (forklifts etc)
3.     Transportation (trucks)
4.     Farming (tractors, combines etc)
5.     Forestry (knuckleboom loaders, wood chippers and the like)

For the purposes of this article we’re going to confine the conversation to construction equipment as it represents both the largest segment of the heavy equipment rental industry and the type of equipment most likely to be of use to both homeowners and contractors.Note to homeowners: Homeowners wishing to rent heavy equipment need to dissuade themselves from the notion that they’re going to operate that equipment themselves (unless of course someone in the family is an experienced heavy equipment operator). As romantic and fun as that idea may be the fact is that your backhoe or bulldozer is going to have to come with a professional operator as part of the package.That said the most common types of construction-related heavy equipment are:

Excavators – Excavators typically have a long arm with a bucket on the end and can pivot 360 degrees to both lift and drop material without having to move. The cab is directly behind the excavator arm giving the operator an unimpeded view of the process. Excavators are extremely popular with both contractors and homeowners because they have myriad uses.
Bulldozers – Bulldozers are in many ways the prototypical type of heavy equipment: big, tough, bulky and able to move lots of material. The common bulldozer sports a wide flat blade (as opposed to a bucket) out front that has limited range of motion and is used to redirect material to where it’s needed most. The bulldozer is capable of both brute force work as well as delicate, precise grading work.
Backhoes – Backhoes are similar in appearance and purpose to excavators. But instead of having the excavating arm up front the backhoe sports a wide flat shovel in front and the excavating arm is moved to the back (hence the name “backhoe”). Backhoes are extremely versatile pieces of equipment that have the advantage of being tire mounted. This makes them attractive to homeowners as there are no tracks to annihilate the yard.
Skid Steer Loaders – Like backhoes skid steer loaders are renowned for their versatility. The skid steer loader spins in place allowing it to turn like a tank and operate in the kind of tight quarters that would rule out many other types of equipment. Skid steer loaders are available with either tracks or tires.
Graders – Graders are called in after the brute force equipment has done its job. They put the finishing touches on everything from driveways to the greens on your favourite golf course and more although, to be sure, their primary use is in creating the nice smooth roadways you enjoy driving upon.
Cranes – Cranes are one of the most useful types of heavy equipment because they get things up to where they need to be and allow for the easy siting of prefabricated items like swimming pools and enormous air conditioning units. Without cranes many of the things we take for granted today like large bridges and skyscrapers would not be possible.To be sure there are other types of heavy equipment used in construction but these are the most common types rented by both contractors and homeowners.

Who Rents What?

Now that we have our list of popular heavy equipment rentals let’s divide things up into homeowner rentals and contractor rentals before we look at heavy equipment rental prices.


Here is a short list of things a homeowner will typically rent heavy equipment for and the type of heavy equipment they’ll rent for each type of project:

Excavating for an in-ground pool – Backhoes and excavators are typically used for this purpose whether the pool is pre-fab or built in place.
Landscaping various parts of the property – Backhoes provide the ability to remove landscape features, create new ones and grade areas of the property. Skid steer loaders or bulldozers may also be called for.
Septic tanks, plumbing and foundation work – Excavators are typically used for these jobs. The size of the excavator will depend on the amount of material to be moved and the available space.
To move heavy items like pianos – Homeowners typically rent cranes to perform this function. The size will depend on the logistics of the site along with the size and weight of the piano.


First off, contractors have a variety of reasons for renting rather than buying heavy equipment. These include:

● Only needing a particular piece of equipment for a specific project.
● Wanting to avoid downtime which often happens with older equipment.
● They don’t want to shoulder the cost of maintenance.
● They want to be sure they’re always using the latest equipment.
● They don’t want to tie up too much capital in equipment.

They also typically have many more uses for heavy equipment than the average homeowner. Here is a short list of those uses and the types of heavy equipment typically rented to get the job done:

Building residential and commercial structures – Building projects will typically call for just about every type of construction equipment with the possible exception of road graders.
Building roadways, tunnels, bridges and pedestrian walkways – Projects that involve building transitways for vehicles and people also require different types of heavy equipment.
Landscaping everything from yards to greenways – Landscaping is a more specialized endeavor that requires earth moving equipment like loaders, backhoes and mini excavators.
Demolishing old buildings, houses, factories etc Demolition often calls for excavators with various pneumatic attachments as well as bulldozers and mini excavators to clear debris.
Removing debris in the aftermath of natural disasters – When natural disasters strike they can leave mountains of both natural and manmade debris in their wake. Clearing this debris calls for a variety of heavy equipment with an emphasis on earth moving equipment like bulldozers, backhoes and skid steer loaders.

The Cost of Renting Various Types of Heavy Equipment

Heavy equipment rental rates typically depends on:

●      The size of the equipment you want to rent.
● How long you wish to rent it for.
● Current demand for such equipment.
● The part of the country you live in.
● The location of your home or business within that part of the country.
● Your credit score.

With so many variables in play it’s not possible to present a comprehensive list of heavy equipment rental rates. The best we can do here is present a sampling of average prices on a few of the most popular types of heavy equipment.


A small to medium size backhoe will typically cost an average of about $250 for a full day rental, approximately $700 for a weekly rental and some $2,000 for a monthly rental. Again, though these prices are intended as ballpark estimates and should not be taken literally. Your specific cost will be different depending on the variables laid out above.

Mini Excavators

Mini excavators range in size from the truly mini to the size of a small truck so the cost to rent a mini excavator will vary. If you’re interested in renting a smallish mini excavator you can reasonably expect to pay approximately the same as you’d pay for a small backhoe; that is $220 – $300 for a full day, $700 – $800 for a week and more than $2,000 for a month.


Like other pieces of heavy equipment bulldozer rental rates will depend on the size of the equipment first and foremost with other factors added in. Here are some typical heavy equipment rental rates for bulldozers based solely on horsepower and length of time:





Approx – $250

Approx – $1,000

Approx – $3,000


Approx – $325

Approx – $1,500

Approx – $5,000


Approx – $1,000

Approx – $4,000

Approx – $12,000

Again these heavy equipment rental prices are ballpark figures that will certainly vary based on where you are as well as other variables listed above.


What constitutes the best heavy equipment rental for you will depend then on the type of task you need to perform and the logistics of the site (commercial, residential, lots of space, tight quarters etc). Basing your choice strictly on budgetary considerations is asking for trouble as you’re bound to get either an old, breakdown-prone piece of equipment or something that is simply not up to the task.