Renting a crane is not a decision to be made lightly. As an expensive and important part of your project, it’s imperative that all the factors are working in your favor.
One factor that many neglect to consider is timing.
When is the best time of year to rent a crane? When should you start looking for a crane? What scheduling problems might arise?
In this guide, we’ll answer all your burning questions so you can hire a crane without the worry.
Is there a best time of the year to rent a crane?
Operating a crane is a strenuous and challenging job. Extreme weather conditions can, therefore, make it all the more challenging. In Michigan, winters are the worst time to operate a crane or a construction project in general.
The extreme cold can affect the structural integrity of the crane while sudden heavy snowfall can halt work altogether. Frigid temperatures may also affect the operator’s ability to precisely operate the crane.
Generally speaking, summer is considered the best time to take on a construction project. The weather is fine and moderate and there isn’t as much rain as spring or autumn. The only hitch may come in June which has the highest rainfall of the year.
Spring and autumn are also two of the better seasons for construction, although it can be rainy and cold.
The downside to these peak weather months is that there will be less availability of equipment and services and it may be more expensive. You can remedy this simply by looking for equipment sooner. During off-seasons, there will be less competition and it will likely be cheaper.
During peak season, you should also put extra effort into managing your employees, equipment (especially your crane), and schedule.
When should you rent a crane in relation to your construction project?
The simple answer is: as soon as possible. There are multiple reasons why sooner is better than later:
- The earlier you start looking, the more options you’ll have and the better the chance of landing the ideal crane. As there are many types of cranes suited for different applications, it’s important that you see what’s available and make an informed decision.
- It’s important to fully understand your crane rental contract. Not being in a rush will give you time to thoroughly go through it and get professional/legal advice.
- We highly recommend getting insurance when renting a crane. In most cases, you’ll be liable for any damage to the crane or accidents as a result of its operation. Your current insurance might already cover it, but you can’t risk not having coverage.
- Renting a crane will most likely be cheaper if you don’t do it at the last minute. Rental companies might increase their fees for last-minute rentals.
- Depending on your city or state, you may need to apply for special permits to operate a crane.
- Should something happen to the crane or the rental company, you’ll have enough time to find a replacement.
Of course, it’s up to you to look over these items and choose a timeline according to your discretion. We recommend leaving it no later than 2 or 3 weeks before your project starts. If your construction starts during the busier months, you may want to give yourself a whole month or two.
Other scheduling factors to consider
Transportation and traffic
Of course, the crane will need to be transported to your project site. When first receiving the crane, keep in mind that it might take some time to transport the crane to your site. This could eat up a day or more of your rental period, depending on how far the rental company is.
If the crane is transported in different parts, it may take longer plus any time needed for assembly. Booms, outriggers, and other parts may be transported separately.
If you rent a mobile crane, you might need to drive it off-site at night or when it’s not use. If this is the case, remember to factor in travel time each time the crane is needed. You may also need to use one or more of the final days of your rental period to return the crane.
Once-off vs. accumulating rental charges
There are generally two ways that companies charge for crane rental. The first is a flat rate for a set period of time or until a project is finished. The second is on a per hour/day/week/month basis.
Obviously, a flat rate is attractive because of its predictability. However, should your project go on past your rental agreement, you might be left stranded without a crane. Some rental companies will allow you to keep the crane but charge high overage fees.
The second option is nice when there will be long periods where the crane won’t be needed or where the work schedule/time to completion is unpredictable. However, this arrangement is obviously more complex and less certain from a cost perspective. You might also lose access to the crane if a long-term fixed contract comes along.
That being said, a flat rate generally works out cheaper than an accumulating cost scheme for the same amount of time.
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail
There is no perfect plan or construction project that can ensure everything goes without a hitch. However, having a plan in place will undoubtedly improve your chances of having a successful crane rental experience.
As such a vital cog in your whole project, it pays to put a little extra time into factoring in and accommodating a crane on your worksite. Preparing your worksite appropriately is one of the best things you can do to ensure smooth operation.
The crane rental company you do business with will be just as responsible for making it a positive experience. So, only do business with the best and most reputable crane rental specialists. Good luck!