Buying or renting tools as a tradesperson

Reading time: 3 minutes

It’s great always having the tools you require on hand, but do you need to splash out for something you don’t always need? We look at the pros and cons of hiring equipment...

Working out what you need

As a tradesperson, you’ll probably always feel like you need more tools - sometimes it can feel like a bit of an addiction.

But before you splash all your hard-won earnings on high-end kit, you need to prioritise what you should get first. Working it out is simple - you just need to focus on the return on investment.

A lot of the time it will be clear enough what you really can't live without. However, if you are in doubt, you can try and figure it out. For example, say you’re thinking of buying a battery drill driver to replace a manual screwdriver:

  • Each time you use your screwdriver, note how long it takes you to use
  • Estimate how long it will have taken with a battery drill driver
  • Now when you consider your day rate, you can put a price on the difference in time
  • You can therefore say with some clarity how long it takes before your drill driver pays for itself
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Hiring vs buying

While there will be key things in your toolbox you’ll rely on every day, there may often be tools or pieces of equipment that you’ll only need occasionally or in rare circumstances. That’s where tool hire can come in. Sometimes investing in owning equipment is the right thing to do long term, but sometimes hiring can be the way to go.

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Benefits of buying 

  • You own the equipment and can have full access to it whenever and wherever you need to use it.
  • If you own your equipment, it’s an asset to your business and appears on your balance sheet and is tax deductible.
  • When you have finished with a piece of equipment, you can sell it on and recoup some of the cash you spent on it.
  • You get to choose the equipment you want from the whole of the market.

Benefits of hiring

  • You only pay for equipment when you need it.
  • You don’t need to store, service or maintain your equipment, just pick it up from the hire shop when it’s required.
  • You should be able to access a wide selection of tools and equipment (if someone hasn’t already hired it).
  • You can gain access to expensive, specialist equipment for specific jobs.
  • Hiring equipment is much cheaper than owning it (although if you hire the same piece of equipment enough, then it may be cheaper to buy).
  • You can try out a piece of equipment before investing in it.
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Weighing it up

There’s no right or wrong answer.

Most tradespeople will own the standard equipment they need to get the job done (whether they buy this secondhand or new). Then they’ll hire specialist pieces of equipment they need to complete specific jobs.

Before working on a job, you should ensure that all equipment has been serviced and is safe to use.

Tools and equipment