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January 2007

Adjustable Scaffolding

As with any large piece of construction equipment, adjustable scaffolding represents a major investment. Thus, manufacturers are prepared to sell you only those towers and sections you require. For example, Non-Stop sells its system in seven-foot-wide tower sections that do not have to be braced together. A typical investment, Breithaupt said, might be enough scaffolding to cover a 130-foot-long wall, which represents an investment of approximately $30,000. "That's about three times as much as conventional frame scaffolding, but the increased production [of workers] normally gives complete payback within five or six months," he said.

Convincing contractors that elevating scaffold is better than framed scaffolding is no longer an issue, Bridges says. "It's not nearly the hard sell that it used to be. ... Now they pretty much know that one day they are going to have to go to it, and they are open to [the idea]." The question for mason contractors now is: 'Should we buy, lease or rent?'

Buy, Lease or Rent?
Most manufacturers of adjustable scaffolding offer all three purchasing options to customers. If you are uncertain about the long-term benefits of adjustable scaffolding, or just don't know if your company will use such a system enough to justify a full purchase, renting or leasing might be the way to go. Normally, you can get the same advantages as buyers of the systems, such as onsite training and full warranties. And with leases — usually 24 to 60 months — "[Customers] really like the tax advantages," Breithaupt said.

"We rent directly from the factory here to any part of the United States," Breithaupt added. "We're the only people that do that. Some [customers] rent with the intention of never buying. But, in the years we've been renting, we've never had any [adjustable scaffolding] come back. So it is a great way to get our product out there."

What About Used Equipment?
Buying used adjustable scaffolding certainly is an option as well. But before making such a purchase, contemplate the following advice from Breithaupt and Bridges:

  • Consider the company that manufactured the product you are buying.

  • Consider flying to the seller's location to look at the equipment in person. The cost of a plane ticket versus what you're spending for the scaffolding is comparatively small.

  • You can plan on buying new bracing for the system if you are buying from another contractor, Bridges said.

  • Conduct a little research. Ask users if the scaffolding ever gets parked on the yard. What percentage of their work do they use it on? Why are they selling? "There's no substitute for talking to people who use it," says Breithaupt. "You can read testimonials all day long; everybody has wonderful testimonials. No one is going to print bad testimonials."

  • Can the adjustable scaffolding be set up in awkward situations? Does the seller use it on hard-to-scaffold jobs? Is it easy for their men to understand and use?

  • Has the seller had any maintenance problems? If the scaffolding broke, how did the manufacturer handle the problem? Ask the seller if they would buy it again, or would they look at a different brand? "When you're spending this kind of money for something that lasts that long, you're really getting 'married' to it," Breithaupt said.

  • How easy is it to transport from job to job?

  • Can you get OSHA training on the used equipment? Is the manufacturer still in business to provide that service?

  • Contact the manufacturer for assistance and training if you've never used the scaffolding before.



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