Work Truck — Own Or Rent?

New construction and remodeling around the San Francisco Bay Area requires a lot of driving. Checking on job sites; meetings with clients and architects; picking up some missing bolts; the list goes on. Thankfully, I don’t stop off for gas as much as I might, as I do not own a truck. I can already see the expression on your face: “What? You call yourself a builder but do not own a truck? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?”

For quite some time, I did all my driving with a Toyota 3/4 ton truck. However, that was my sole vehicle, had a rack instead of a shell, leaving little room for a passenger plus groceries. When the truck died it was replaced with a Volvo station wagon, and after that a series of small passenger cars.

Whenever a truck is needed, I simply rent one. I set up an account with a large rental agency, and for under $65 per day including tax and damage waiver,  I am out the door with a clean, late model, full size truck. My company’s construction projects typically last anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Most deliveries are made by suppliers, and once the job is mobilized and stocked, there is little need for trucks. If we were, say, plumbers or electricians who need tools and supplies onboard each day, renting would be out of the question. Some pros and cons to consider:


  • Use only as long as you need to, and save lots of money on gas
  • If anything ever breaks you will get a replacement quickly
  • They are usually near-new vehicles, making for good PR
  • You can apply your own magnetic advertising signs during the rental period


  • Not always available when needed last minute, perhaps 10% of the time
  • You really want that damage waiver — getting a nick or scratch is easy; repairs start at $500
  • You are pretty much locked into rentals per day, not fractions thereof
  • Trucks do not come with racks unless you rent from a specialty rental company

Every time I see my plumber pull up in his Ford F450 — particularly with today’s gas prices  — I can’t help but cringe. Laugh, too! I have been happy with my rental solution for many years, so I doubt I will own a truck any day soon.

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