For a construction business owner or the hardcore DIYer, the question of buying used construction equipment versus renting it comes down to several factors or areas of consideration. Having the right light or heavy equipment is essential for a business owner or individual to improve productivity and reduce physical demand on workers. Determining the best option for you requires a bit of research and consideration of details that apply to your needs and situation. Knowing what to seek out and also what to avoid is critical to finding valuable machines, tools, and heavy equipment to suit your requirements. 

Are you in need of a boom lift? How about an excavator? Perhaps you need a compact track loader, a skid steer loader, or an asphalt paver. From construction vehicles and concrete equipment, to tools, generators, scaffolding, and all things landscaping, you want high-quality materials you can rely on to get the job done well. The right equipment for the job is essential to your success. The best equipment at the best price may indeed be used materials and vehicles with a record of regular maintenance and care. While used equipment is likely no longer shiny and spotless, it can get the job done with quality and efficiency if it has been well-maintained.

Should You Buy Used Construction Equipment?

Buying used construction equipment rather than renting (or perhaps buying new equipment) comes down to 4 factors of consideration:

  • Budget and Cost Efficiency
  • Condition of the Equipment with Proof of Regular Maintenance
  • Finding a Dependable and Respectable Equipment Dealer
  • Operator Skill, Safety, and Working Conditions


Badger Contractors Rental and Supply is here to help you examine each of these facets and apply them to your unique situation so you can minimize risks and maximize opportunities for success.

Tuff Truck
Badger is a construction equipment supplier that specializes in tools like this Hydraulic Breaker.
Badger is a construction equipment supplier that specializes in tools like this Multiquip TB11E Tufftruk Walk Behind Power Buggy.

Budget and Cost Efficiency Considerations

Among the most important tips for any used equipment purchase is to ensure that you’ve considered your budget and the potential value that owning used equipment and tools may provide. In order to make this determination, ask yourself the following questions…

  1. What is your budget? Can you or your business afford the materials or heavy equipment? Do you have the money to buy it outright, or will you need a loan? If you are considering the purchase of heavy equipment such as a wheel loader, dump truck, or other construction vehicle, take into account the market projections for the equipment. Might newer models be necessary for the execution of jobs in the near future, or will upgrades be unnecessary in the short-term?

  2. How long and how frequently do you expect to use the equipment? Given the nature of your business or tasks, is this something you will use on a regular basis? The number of operating hours needed from your equipment will help you determine whether this is something you should own or rent as needed.

  3. Can you store it? This question is one of the simplest to answer. If you have the space and a consistent location option for storage, then buying might be a solid choice. If you don’t realistically have a viable storage option, then consider renting.

  4. Will the new-to-you, pre owned equipment exceed the efficiency and quality of what you currently have available to you? The old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” may apply here.

What is the Condition of the Used Construction Equipment for Sale?

Whether you are in the market for heavy equipment or light tools and materials, you’ll want to be confident that you are getting the best for your money. Second hand equipment doesn’t need to be pretty to get the job done right. It should, however, be in good condition. Before parting with your hard-earned money, you need assurance that the equipment is well-maintained

Longevity is important when buying pre owned equipment. To safeguard against purchasing potential “lemons,” and to verify there’s lots of life left in your investment, you’ll need to do your homework. One of the most important tips for buying used construction equipment is to know its history, especially when heavy equipment is powered by gas or electricity. 

Who owned this equipment? Did someone keep track of each operating hour? What does the maintenance record detail? 

If these aren’t questions you can answer with satisfaction, you will likely want to keep searching. Additionally, if this industrial machinery is a heavy-duty vehicle, take note of:

  • Any structural damage – If it’s been doing its job, used light or heavy equipment will certainly have scratches and marks. But damage to the structure that could impact the performance of the equipment should be avoided.
  • The condition of the undercarriage – Is there rust? Is there evidence of leaking transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid or engine oil?
  • Note any non-functional equipment – This can include gauges, levers, emergency equipment, power systems, lights and sounds, etc.
  • Check that fluid levels are consistent.
  • Presence of smoke, odors, or unusual noises – Always turn the vehicle or machine on so that you can verify that it runs without these potential red flags
  • Look out for thin tire tread – Adequate tread on heavy equipment facilitates proper traction and braking.

Ensure That Your Search for Used Construction Equipment Near Me Locates a Vetted Dealer

Buying used tools or heavy construction equipment is a strategic way to save money. Buying industrial machinery from the wrong vendor can result in unpleasant surprises. A trusted merchant would never sell you something they wouldn’t use themselves. If you make the decision to buy used construction equipment, be wary of private sellers. You’ll want to buy from a trusted and experienced equipment dealer like Badger Contractors Rental and Supply who have the capability of servicing both light and heavy equipment as well. You will want a dealer who is familiar with the history of the machine and can provide service and repair on-site or in the field. 

While you might be able to save some money by purchasing from the previous owner who is acting as the private seller, lower prices may cost you more in the long run. No known history, a lack of references and reviews, and a refusal to allow third-party inspections are warning signs that you are not dealing with a trusted vendor. Reputable dealers like Badger offer services and security through:

  • Equipment or machine history
  • Sourcing for parts when needed
  • Inspections
  • Potential financing
  • Possible warranty extensions
  • Repair and maintenance
MBW GP2000 Plate Compactor 20" x 22" Honda 5.5 HP

Considerations of Purchasing Used Equipment Regarding Worksite and Employee Skill and Safety

Just as you would only consider buying used equipment that you will frequently use, you’ll want to buy tools or heavy machinery that is suitable for your worksite and employees. Before parting with your money, regardless of renting or buying used equipment, understand your worksite conditions and what they demand. Give thought to weather or chemical exposure. Will your construction machinery encounter salt brine, snowmelt, or acids? Fertilizer can have corrosive effects on equipment. Consider the terrain of your worksites. Will you need snow chains or tracks? Taking into account all the factors that your worksite and weather conditions will have on your construction machinery may help you to project how long it may last or how often it will require maintenance.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider the needs of your employees and/or operators of any heavy equipment. Is the operator’s skill level adequate or will they need training? Are there attachments for this heavy equipment that the employees can safely remove or apply? Attachments can range from buckets and rakes to rippers and compactors. Attachments may also necessitate use of hydraulics, computer systems, or mounting equipment. Construction technology evolves along with everything else in today’s world. 

You’ll also want to know whether you’ll be dealing with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) replacement parts or aftermarket parts. Due to slight differences in design, aftermarket parts will not always provide the same fit as OEM parts. Having a team that is fully capable of and comfortable with safely attaching, using, and detaching any accessories will be essential.

To Buy or Not to Buy? Now You Are Better Prepared for the Decision

A potential buyer has much to consider with the complex issue of buying used equipment. Budget and compatibility with your business, condition of the secondhand equipment, locating a dependable and experienced vendor, and employee and worksite considerations are the four main factors that will inform your decision. To further explore these issues when it comes to your individual situation, reach out to a local and trusted construction supply company such as Badger Contractors Rental and Supply in Madison and Janesville, Wisconsin, where exceptional customer service is a top priority. A reliable vendor will listen to what you tell them about your business or construction project needs and will advise you accordingly with your company’s interests in mind.