Should You Hire or Buy a Crane for Your Construction Business?

Published August 5, 2016 by Whirlwind Team

 crane on a construction site

There’s nothing like seeing a flock of cranes at a construction site, is there? A crane is the most noticeable piece of equipment at any construction project, signifying to anyone driving by that a building is going up here.

No doubt, cranes are critical for transporting materials to different locations on the jobsite and up to the next level of the structure. They are also expensive pieces of equipment; hiring (renting) a crane could be the easiest way to have one working for you.

Types of cranes

You have mobile cranes, and you have tower cranes.

Mobile cranes, in the U.S. at least, are truck-mounted. (A track-mounted crane is referred to as a crawler crane.) A mobile crane is a self-propelled piece of machinery that can move about your construction site. It has a boom attached directly to the crane carriage and can be deployed quickly, one of the big advantages to mobile cranes.

You can hire a mobile crane in almost any size, from an ultra-compact that will fit into a small truck, to a massive crane that can make the rest of the site look like Legos. Mobile cranes are capable of handling your heaviest loads.

Tower cranes are stationary; where they are assembled, that is where they will stay. A tower crane has a vertical mast with a horizontal jib at the top and may be the only way to erect a high-rise project.

You will see tower cranes in almost any construction environment; they are often used in civil infrastructure and many urban or rural building projects. Tower cranes are also the preference for low-rise commercial and residential structures.

Should you hire (rent) or buy?

The decision to buy or rent your construction equipment will depend on the state of your company. If your company is expanding, you have plenty of projects in the pipeline, and you have the capital, buying may be fine. If you do not have the capital, or you don't expect to have a heavy workload over the long term, renting may be a better way to go.

If you only need a crane for two to ten years or have only a few projects requiring one, renting will save you money. If you have heavy projects (or plan to) for longer than that or have a frequent need for a crane, buying one (new or used) could be a better investment.


Although this post is about renting, here are a few pieces of advice about buying:

  • Only buy from a reputable dealer
  • Commit to proper maintenance and service
  • If buying used, you can find good deals on cranes that are five to ten years old
  • You may be able to sell the crane back at a later date

A well-maintained crane can last 25 years or more. Rumor has it that there are some 40-year old cranes still operating.

Hiring a crane

Typically, crane hiring companies provide tower cranes. If you do not foresee more than one or two projects requiring a crane, renting is definitely the way to go. If you need a specialty crane, you will have to rent since these are extremely rarely used and are more expensive than mobile or tower cranes.

The cost of maintenance and service is usually rolled into the rental price but, depending on the company, you may be asked to pay an extra fee for erection and take-down.

Crane hiring companies

A crane hiring company leases cranes as their main line of service. The people there are highly experienced in crane assembly, service, and operation. Using a crane hiring company can enhance safety on your jobsite because it should follow best practices to maximize service without increasing the risk.

Take advantage of that experience to find out which crane would be best for your project. These are the people who would know and can guide you to the best option taking into account the length of the boom, radius of rotation, and carrying capacity you are likely to need.

The selection of the crane determines the selection of other appliances as well. You can get telescoping booms or all-terrain travel (with a mobile crane). Along with cars and trucks, you can now find hybrid cranes that run on alternative energy sources.

Other benefits of hiring or renting a crane include the ability to stack leases and offer flexible time periods. If you only need a crane for a short time, you can get a short-term lease. If it turns out you need to keep it longer, the lease can easily be extended.

Many companies will lease cranes for anywhere from one day to several months. Need more than one crane? No worries, you can get as many as you need, all from the same place so you can be confident in the quality of the service and have less paperwork.

Crane hiring companies typically have newer equipment and, as part of the service, ensure any changes in legislation, requirements, or regulation are already taken care of. You won’t need to know the details; just stay current so you can be sure your hiring company is keeping up.

A local crane hiring company is typically well-versed in local licensing and permitting. It can even help you coordinate with the proper authorities when you are transporting materials.

There are a lot of crane hiring companies out there, so prices are competitive. Most companies serve a broad geographic region and, sometimes, an entire continent.

Cranes have been around for a long time, evolving from simple hoists to today’s tower cranes and colossal port cranes. They are a necessary piece of equipment when your projects include any type of building construction or infrastructure work. Fortunately, there is a world of options that can come together to assemble the crane you need.

Hiring a crane makes perfect financial sense for construction companies that may only require a crane for a few projects, plus renting a crane can reduce service and maintenance costs, provide up-to-date equipment, and expert help whenever you need it. Crane hiring companies are full of people who spend most of their time assembling and servicing cranes.

If your next project requires a crane, consider a crane hiring company.

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