Dry hire prices for excavators jump substantially as the tonnage increases, because larger machines cost significant amounts to maintain. It is also important to be aware that if you require attachments this may additionally set you back. They can be invaluable aids in completing an array of tasks and if you are curious as to what options are available, read our blog on common excavator attachments.
A good guide for estimating rates, is that machines get more expensive by $5 per tonnage bracket. The age of the machine, the number of hours and other factors (such as Topcon GPS machine control), can increase hire rates measurably from these average amounts. On a whole, hiring an excavator on wet hire rates adds about $50-$80 per hour to the hire rate and includes a ticketed operator, fuel used or fuel burn and a reasonable amount of machine wear-and-tear. Anything more substantial is charged when the machine is returned to the depot.
What are minimum excavator hire hours with an operator (wet hire)?
Minimum hire hours for an excavator with an operator vary dependant on type of excavator:
- Mini Excavator (1-3 tonne) minimum hire hours: 2 hours work + 1 hour travel
- Small Excavator (3-8 tonne) minimum hire hours: 3 hours work + 1 hour travel
- Medium Sized Excavator (8-14 tonne) minimum hire hours: 3 hours work + 1 hour travel
- Large Excavator (20 tonnes +) minimum hire hours: A full day (8 hours) + float + 2 hours travel
Wet hire minimum hours are structured as is set out above because Australian employment laws stipulate that you cannot hire a casual worker on less than a 3 hour shift / call out. So with the operator travelling to your site, the company needs to pay them on a 3 hour minimum so even if your job is tiny and only takes 5 minutes, you will be paying no less than three hours for any application. Unsure if you need a licence to operate an excavator? Read up on the operator requirements with our licences article.
It is worth noting that the above figures are industry averages, but each company sets their own minimum hours which may vary from the above. Generally, the hire rates difference between brands is quite negligible be it a Hitachi, Komatsu, Case or alternate brand of excavator.
What are minimum excavator hire hours without an operator (dry hire)?
- Mini Excavator (1-3 tonne) minimum hire hours: 4 hours (pick up), 1 day (delivered)
- Small Excavator (3-8 tonne) minimum hire hours: 4 hours (pick up), 1 day (delivered)
- Medium Sized Excavator (8-14 tonne) minimum hire hours: 1 - 3 days
- Large Excavator (20 tonnes +) minimum hire hours: 1 week
Most privately-owned dry hire plant hire companies offer their excavators on hire for day rates only. This is because the cost of delivery of the machine and the time it takes to clean, service & prepare the machine for hire makes anything under a day hire unprofitable. However, large companies like Coates and Kennards do offer a range of excavators on hourly rates with minimums if you come and collect it yourself. For most residential punters this is out the question, so if you are trying to do some landscaping or dig yourself a pool, then you are going to have to hire a machine for a day or a full weekend.
What are travel costs in excavator hire rates?
Travel costs are charged on excavator wet hire jobs and are a fee for the time the excavator spends travelling to and from the depot to your site. Travel costs are charged on some dry hire excavator jobs too - because this is still time the excavator is out of the depot and not being used to dig something (therefore earning the owner no ROI).
Excavator travel cost is usually calculated by 1 hour of the agreed hourly rate travelling from the depot to the job site (regardless of the actual distance) or longer if the job is further away. Some plant hire companies charge for travel to and from the depot, but the standard is to just charge from the depot to the job.
What are average excavator and digger mobilisation & float costs?
- Mini excavator (1-3 tonne) hire float cost: Flat $250 - $270 and includes drop off and pick up
- Small excavator (3-8 tonne) hire float cost: $350 each way
- Medium sized excavator (8-14 tonne) hire float cost: $450 each way
- Large sized excavator (20 tonne and above) hire float cost: $650 + each way
Some plant hire companies can offer free float costs for machines on long-term hire. Often, they waive the float costs on long term jobs, if the job site is near to the depot, or if they really want your business.
Some of the really big excavators (especially those over 50 tonnes) can be incredibly expensive to move around. This is especially true if they are a wide load, need a police escort or other safety precautions. They also move very slowly, and sometimes need to be moved outside of peak traffic hours to minimise the safety issues associated with moving them. When multiple people and trucks are deployed in the mobilisation of a machine, it can send these rates sky high. But if you are moving a big excavator to a job, it will likely be for a long term hire and often on this basis, you can negotiate with the owner of the excavator to share in these costs.
What are excavator hire penalty rates?
When hiring an excavator on a wet or dry hire basis, penalty rates can apply for all the staff involved in operating, delivering or maintaining the machine whilst it is on your site. If you need to operate the machine on a weekend, public holiday or after regular working hours, you can expect to be charged standard penalty rate multiples as they apply to the Fair Work standards and ABA in Australia for casual labour rates. However, most operators don't charge penalty rates on Saturday, but they do on Sundays.
According to the Building and Construction General Onsite Award MA00020 of the Fairwork Act;
- Excavator hire Saturday (after 12pm) penalty rates: 1.5 x rate
- Excavator hire Sunday penalty rates: 2 x rate
- Excavator hire public holidays penalty rates: 2.5 x rate
- Excavator hire night time (after 6pm) penalty rates: 1.5 x rate
- Excavator broken shifts, less than 8 hours between shifts: 1.5 x rate
What are average discount rates for long-term excavator hire?
Enterprising plant hire companies and excavator hire suppliers can offer their long-term customers discounted rates if the term is substantial. We surveyed a couple of our suppliers and found some average discounts applied based on term..
- Excavator hire for longer than a week: average rate discount 5%
- Excavator hire for longer than a month: average rate discount 10%
- Excavator hire for longer 2+ months: average rate discount 20%
- Excavator hire for 3 - 6 months: average rate discount 30 - 40%
How to get the best excavator hire rates
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