The Different Types of Construction Equipment Every Independent Contractor Needs

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Dec 28, 2018

Dec 28, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Tired of working for someone else? More than 627,000 new small businesses open each year. If you're ready to start calling the shots, starting your own construction business could be right for you.

People with experience in the construction industry are primed for success as independent contractors. However, construction is an equipment-heavy job. While you can start with a bare-bones setup, the more you have, the more jobs you'll get.

Where should you start with buying different types of construction equipment?

We've put together a list of the top essentials that will get your business off the ground. Read on to learn which types of construction equipment you should invest in first!

1. Mixers

Your construction company will use concrete for a variety of purposes, so a mixer is one of the most important items to have.

Without your own concrete mixer, it can be difficult to get and transport the large amounts of concrete you need on a site. Consider the size of your projects when deciding what kind of mixer to get. You can start small with a mobile drum mixer or go big with a bigger truck-mounted mobile mixer.

With your own mixer, you can make batches of concrete as needed on site. You'll be able to move concrete around the site, instead of having it delivered to a single place and then having to distribute it. You can also make only as much as you need, so there's no money wasted.

2. Diggers

You'll need to dig at every construction site. Digging is crucial to putting in the foundation for the building, of course. But you might also need diggers to help you with other tasks, such as leveling the ground before you build.

In short, all surfaces need to get excavated before building can begin. Excavation tools can dig out even tough surfaces, and go deep enough for basements or sub-level parking lots.

The type of diggers you start with also depends on the type of jobs you usually do. Most companies will use bulldozers, excavators, loaders, or some combination of these. 

3. Dump Trucks

Dump trucks allow you a way to transport the earth and other material that you dig out and need to get rid of. 

Construction creates a lot of excess material. You'll need a way to move things from place to place, and also to get rid of the unneeded dirt, stone, and other materials.

The great thing about dump trucks is that you can drive them on the road. For example, if you need to take waste to a recycling center, your dump truck can do it when your other movers can't.

You can get lots of different sizes and types of dump trucks to meet your needs. The smallest ones aren't much bigger than your average truck on the road, while the largest ones can move massive amounts of material at once. 

4. Lifters

You'll likely need to lift materials with a machine like a crane on most jobs. These machines are complicated to operate and must be used with safety in mind. But in the construction industry, a lot of work can't get done without them.

A lifter moves everything from steel beams to plate-glass windows from the ground to where they need to be. Without lifters, you'll have a hard time moving equipment, especially for multi-story buildings.

5. Trenchers

If you'll be laying pipe or cables for your projects, you'll definitely want a trencher to make the job easier.

You can also get many different sizes and types of trenchers. The smallest ones are operated by a person walking behind them, while the largest are heavy-duty machines that can dig trenches through pavement and other hard surfaces.

Trenchers use a conveyor belt to move the excess material out of the trench and onto the ground. From there, you can load it into a dump truck for disposal or move it to where it's needed.

Most trenchers use different attachments to dig through different surfaces. With a versatile trencher design, you won't have problem digging into even the toughest of materials.

5. Movers 

You'll also need equipment that can move materials around the site and load it into a dump truck or another vehicle for removal.

Many of these "movers" have multiple purposes. For example, a backhoe is an essential earth mover that also doubles as a digger. Bulldozers are also versatile movers that you'll probably want to have on hand.

These machines allow you to load materials onto your dump trucks when they're too heavy or large for manual loading. 

6. Scrapers

Scrapers are another part of the digging and leveling process. These machines move dirt around to get it out of the way or to create a more level surface for you to build on.

Some scrapers are standalone equipment items, while smaller ones can be attached to other vehicles and pulled behind them. 

7. Graders

When you need to fine-tune the surface, you'll need a grader.

Graders move smaller amounts of earth to create perfectly flat or carefully sloped surfaces. You'll change the angle of the blade to get the results you need.

You can even build drainage ditches with a grader. However, they're more often used to grade roads and other flat surfaces before they're topped with asphalt or concrete. 

8. Small Items

In addition to heavy equipment, you'll likely need a number of smaller items to complete jobs.

The exact things you'll need depend on your company's size and goals. You might need air compressors, pressure washers, nail guns, and any number of other small tools.

Where to Find the Best Types of Construction Equipment

Now that you know the basic types of construction equipment you need, it's time to get started. Start by looking for sales at your local retailers or consider saving money with high-quality used equipment. You can also lease some of the bigger items until your budget allows you to buy them.

As your business grows, you'll also need to hire a great team. Don't miss our guide on choosing the best employees!