I scan the media each week to keep abreast of all that has to do with building and remodeling homes, new tools and new technology in the trades. I also talk to dozens of homeowners. I can tell you that inflation and soaring interest rates are inspiring more and more homeowners to contemplate tackling home-improvement projects that two years ago they would have hired out.
The good news is you can rent a lot of cool tools you might not realize exist. These tools make jobs easier to without help — and therefore often cheaper and less time-consuming for you.
A month ago, I was hired by a Florida woman to be her virtual general contractor for a major renovation on her house in central Maine. This energetic woman figured that with me in her back pocket, available to do video or voice calls while she’s at the job site, I could help her successfully navigate this project. She stands to save close to $100,000 by my calculations.
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The good news is she has at her disposal a plethora of tools and machines she can rent that will help her, and her subcontractors, complete the project. I will share a few of them here, to inspire you to jump into a project that you might have backed away from thinking it took too much manpower.
A man lift is one of the most exciting machines that you might rent. It allows you to work safely up high. While these are not necessarily new, the capabilities and reach of the machines has significantly improved. Imagine working from a level platform with guardrails 30 feet off the ground. Just a few days ago, a half-mile from my house, a fireplace contractor used one to install a stainless steel chimney on the roof of a new house. The machine allowed him to do this quickly and, most importantly, safely.
You can use man lifts to install windows, siding and gutters, to paint house exteriors, to repoint brick chimneys, and even to re-shingle a steep roof that might terrify you. If you hate ladders, you’re going to love man lifts.
Do you have to pour concrete in the back of a house or up a hill? Imagine how hard it is to try to push a wheelbarrow filled with heavy concrete up even a slight grade. Why not rent a power buggy? These are powerful, motorized, tiny dump trucks. They come in different sizes, but a popular one is just over four feet wide and can transport 2,200 pounds of concrete each trip. It has tracks like a bulldozer or tank, so it can go just about anywhere. You can use one to transport and dump gravel, sand, stones, bricks, etc. One power buggy can easily replace up to eight men on certain jobs.
Do you need to do plumbing work yet you don’t trust your soldering skills? Forget about soldering and use press fittings. You can rent a tool that crimps the exterior of slide-on fittings that create a permanent seal with a rubber o-ring. In the past you may have taken three minutes to clean, prep and solder a fitting on copper tubing. That same fitting can now be installed in less than 10 seconds using the press tool.
Pipe scaffolding is by no means new. Masons have used it for decades to lay brick and stone on the outside of homes and commercial buildings. It’s simple to assemble. You can get a wide variety of accessories such as staircases, guardrails, leveling feet, wheels for hard, smooth surfaces, and working platforms.
I’ve used pipe scaffolding to paint houses as well as to install new roofing. Scaffolding allows you to work safely at the lower edge of the roof. These amazing monkey bars work well when it’s time to do rough carpentry. I’ve set up the scaffolding to install ridge beams and roof rafters. I love the stability of pipe scaffolding, and it’s very inexpensive to rent a month at a time.
Do you have to break up a worn-out concrete driveway, patio, or sidewalk? Rent an electric jack hammer. These have been around for decades, but you may not have known about them. They just need a normal 15-amp 120-volt circuit. These powerful tools can break up thick concrete if that’s what you need to do.
If you need to dig a trench or a hole, you can rent a machine to do it. With just a few minutes practice using the joystick controls, you’ll be able to dig a trench with fluid movements. Skid-steer loaders have been around for at least five decades. These allow you to move vast amounts of sand and gravel and dig holes in sandy or clay soils. They’re perfect for jobs where you can’t fit a big backhoe or loader.
You can rent miniature stand-behind excavators and loaders too. These can fit in very small backyards and will allow you to dig shallow holes for new patios, sidewalks, or a driveway if need be.
As crazy as this seems, you might want to visit tool-rental shops or surf their websites to see all the tools they have for rent. You may see the perfect tool that will inspire you to become a serious DIY warrior. And remember, I’m a phone call away should you get stuck.
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