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16 Things to Consider Before You Rent an Excavator

16 Things to Consider Before You Rent an Excavator

16 Things to Consider Before Using An Excavator

16 Things to Consider Before You Rent an Excavator

Reading time: 5 min

Excavators are incredible machines ideal for a range of intensive applications such as digging, breaking up hard surfaces and moving materials.

Renting an excavator is a good solution for construction teams that don’t have an excavator in their fleet. Before you rent one, though, there are several things you should take into account.

Excavators come in a variety of shapes and sizes—and not every excavator is suited to all applications.

Here are 16 things to consider before renting an excavator.

1. What Kind of Work Are You Doing?

Understanding the specific tasks involved in your project, whether it’s digging trenches, clearing land or handling heavy materials, will help you determine the type and size of excavator you need.

Different machines are designed for various applications. While a mini excavator is a great choice for a residential project, a larger model may be better suited for commercial construction projects.

2. How Long Will The Project Take?

Consider how long your project is estimated to take when renting an excavator. Many rental companies offer flexible rental periods, but longer projects may benefit from discounted rates or monthly rental options.

Evaluating the project timeline allows you to plan and budget accordingly, ensuring that the rental period aligns with your needs and avoids unnecessary costs or extensions.

3. Will You Need Excavator Attachments?

Assess which specific attachments will be required for your project. Excavators can be equipped with a variety of attachments like buckets, hammers, grapples or augers, which enhance their capabilities.

Ensure your rental company offers the necessary attachments and verify any additional costs associated with renting them. Having the right attachments can significantly increase the efficiency and versatility of your excavator for particular tasks.

4. Has The Excavator Been Properly Maintained?

Inquire about the maintenance history and requirements of the excavator before renting. A well maintained machine is less likely to experience breakdowns during your project, minimizing delays and additional costs.

Ask the rental company about their maintenance procedures, including regular inspections, servicing, and repairs. It’s important to rent from a reputable company that prioritizes the upkeep of their equipment to ensure reliable operation.

5. What are The Local Regulations?

Familiarize yourself with local regulations and requirements for excavation work. Check if permits are needed and understand any safety guidelines or environmental restrictions that may be in place.

Compliance with regulations ensures a smooth and legally sound operation. Additionally, be aware of noise restrictions, working hours and any limitations on excavating near utilities or protected areas. Being well-informed about local regulations helps you plan your project effectively and avoid disruptions.

6. Does Your Project Have Weight/Size Limits?

Evaluate if your project site has weight restrictions, specifically related to underground irrigation systems, utilities or other sensitive infrastructure. Excavators exert significant weight on the ground, and operating a heavy machine near underground pipes, cables or irrigation systems can cause damage or disruptions.

Understanding any weight limitations imposed by such systems allows you to select an excavator that meets the required weight restrictions, preventing potentially costly damages and ensuring the integrity of the underground infrastructure.

Additionally, it helps you maintain compliance with regulations and minimizes the risk of service interruptions for utilities or irrigation systems.

7. What Is The Dig Depth?

Determine the required dig depth for your project. Excavators have different maximum dig depths, and selecting the appropriate excavator ensures you can reach the desired depth without limitations.

Whether it’s for foundation work, trenching or utility installation, having an excavator with adequate dig depth helps you complete your project efficiently.

8. What Height Do You Need to Reach?

Evaluate the required reach height for your project. Some tasks, such as demolition or dumping loads into tall dumpsters require additional reach. 

Matching the excavator's height capabilities to your project needs allows you to accomplish tasks effectively and safely, minimizing the risk of accidents.

A mini excavator moving dirt for a residential project

Different machines are designed for various applications. While a mini excavator is a great choice for a residential project, a larger model may be better suited for commercial construction projects.

9. Are There Site Restrictions?

Identify any specific site restrictions that may impact the operation of the excavator. These restrictions could include overhead power lines, underground utilities or limited maneuvering space.

Knowing these limitations helps you choose an excavator with the appropriate size, reach and mobility to navigate and operate within the constraints of the site, ensuring safety and preventing potential damage to surrounding structures or utilities.

10. What About Fuel Costs?

Inquire about the excavator's fuel consumption rate to estimate fuel costs for your project. Excavators typically run on diesel fuel, and fuel costs can be a significant portion of your budget. 

Understanding the machine's fuel efficiency allows you to anticipate fuel expenses accurately, enabling better budgeting and cost management throughout the rental period.

11. What is the Necessary Lifting Capacity?

Consider the lifting capacity required for your project. If your work involves lifting heavy objects or materials, ensure that the excavator's lifting capacity meets your needs. 

Exceeding the lifting capacity can lead to safety hazards or equipment damage. Evaluate the weight of the loads you will be handling and choose an excavator with an appropriate lifting capacity, taking into account any attachments that may affect the machine's capabilities.

12. What is Your Budget?

Determine your budget for the rental, including the excavator and any additional costs. Compare rental rates from different providers, taking into account factors like rental duration, fuel costs, delivery fees and insurance. Setting a budget allows you to evaluate options that align with your financial limitations and find the best value for your investment. 

Be mindful of potential hidden costs or additional charges, and consider the overall project budget, including other expenses related to the excavation work.

13. What Type of Track Is Needed?

Consider the terrain and ground conditions of your project site. Excavators can have either rubber or steel tracks, each suitable for different environments. Choosing the right tracks for your excavator will help ensure smooth operation.

Rubber tracks are ideal for delicate surfaces like pavement or finished landscapes, as they minimize damage. Steel tracks provide better traction and stability on rough terrain. 

14. What Tail Size is Appropriate?

Excavators have varying tail swing sizes, referring to the radius of the excavator's rear end swing. Determine the appropriate tail size based on the site constraints, such as proximity to buildings, trees or other structures. 

Selecting an excavator with a tail size that fits within the available space ensures safe and unobstructed operation, preventing any accidental collisions or damage during the project.

15. How Will You Transport the Excavator?

Consider the logistics of transporting the rented excavator to your project site. Evaluate whether you have the means to transport the equipment yourself or if you need to arrange transportation through the rental company. 

Determine whether you require a trailer, flatbed truck or specialized equipment for transportation. Additionally, inquire about associated costs, permits or escorts required for oversized loads.

16. Should You Buy an Excavator Instead?

Evaluate the possibility of purchasing an excavator instead of renting, especially if you have frequent or long-term excavation needs. 

Consider factors such as upfront costs, maintenance expenses, storage requirements and future projects. If your projects are consistent and extensive, owning an excavator might be a more cost-effective option in the long run.


Renting an excavator requires careful consideration to ensure you select the right machine for your project. With a wide range of excavator types, sizes and features available, it's crucial to assess your specific needs and project requirements. Excavators come in various categories, such as mini excavators, mid-size excavators and large excavators, each designed for different applications and project scales. 

Additionally, factors like dig depth, lifting capacity, reach height and attachment compatibility vary across models. By understanding these variations, you can make an informed decision and choose an excavator that maximizes efficiency, productivity and safety for your specific job.

At EquipmentShare, our team of rental professionals is standing by to assist you in choosing the right excavator rental for your job. With locations throughout the United States, you can get the optimal heavy equipment rental to help you complete your project efficiently and on time.

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