Introduction to Crane Hire Costs

It is almost impossible to give a list of crane hire rates because just about every job requires a tailored quote - this is the reason you will struggle to find a crane hire price list online. This free guide by Synergy Lifting will not give you a definitive list of crane hire costs but it will outline the different factors that affect crane hire costs and give you a better understanding of what to ask for when looking for a quote for crane hire and help you to understand why crane hire costs can differ so much from job to job. If you want a no obligation crane hire price straight away, feel free to get in touch with us.

There are many factors that come in to play when you are trying to find out how much crane hire will cost for your specific project. Crane hire costs can vary from a few hundred pounds to £100,000s. This means you need to know the differences between the services available, which service is best for you, the types of cranes available, the sizes of cranes available and a few other factors that can influence your crane hire cost.

How is this crane hire cost guide broken down?

To keep things as simple as possible, this guide first outlines the difference between the two services available - crane hire and a contract lift. Depending on the service you need, the crane hire costs can vary greatly. The following section summarises the different types of cranes available and briefly explains the factors that influence the size of crane you will need for your job - both the type and size of crane have a large bearing on the crane hire cost. Finally, this crane hire cost guide will summarise these factors and let you know what information you should pass onto crane hire firms to make sure you get a crane hire quote tailored to your needs.

Contents For This Guide

  1. Introduction to crane hire costs
  2. Do I need crane hire or a contract lift?
  3. What type and size crane do I need?
  4. What else can influence my crane hire cost?
  5. What will my crane hire cost?

If you don't have time to read this guide and just want to get a crane hire price, use our live chat or contact us and we will give you an indication of prices straight away.

Do I need crane hire or a contract lift?

When it comes to hiring a crane there are two services available - a CPA* crane hire or a contract lift. The upfront cost for a standard crane hire is cheaper than a contract lift but unless you have your own insurances and an Appointed Person to plan the lift you are likely going to need a contract lift instead. Be wary of quotes for crane hire prices if you are tendering for a project - if you do not have the capabilities and insurances in place to plan the lift yourself, then you may get a shock when your price increases later on when you realise you need a contract lift service instead. A good crane hire firm, such as Synergy Lifting, will make you aware of the differences beforehand and ensure you get the correct price for the correct service the first time round.

Crane hire vs contract lifts - key differences

The table below outlines the key differences between crane hire and contract lifts. It is important to understand the difference between the two services to determine the exact service that you need. This has a large affect on the upfront cost of crane hire and, unless you have specific capabilities, you will likely require a contract lift.

FactorCrane HireContract Lift
Is a crane with operator supplied?YesYes
Who is responsible for selecting a suitable crane?CustomerCrane Firm
Who plans the lift?Customer's AP*Crane Firm's AP*
Who arranges slinging and signalling duties?CustomerCrane Firm
Who is responsible for supervising the lift?CustomerCrane Firm
Who is responsible for all loss or damage to the crane?CustomerCrane Firm
Who takes on legal liability in the event of injury or damage?CustomerCrane Firm
Who is responsible for insuring the plant and goods under hook?CustomerCrane Firm
* AP (Appointed Person) is a person qualified to plan lifting operations.

What costs more - crane hire or a contract lift?

Given that there is less risk and planning involved on the customer's side, a contract lift is more expensive than a crane hire. Although the upfront costs for a contract lift are more expensive than a standard crane hire cost, there is a lot less responsibility on the customer. Not having the burden of responsibility can mean that a contract lift is actually the cheaper option in real terms because you do not have to employ an Appointed Person to plan the lift, arrange supervision of the lift, arrange slinging and signalling duties, provide relevant insurances or bear the reposnibility in the unlikely event of injury.

Read our full guide to the differences between crane hire and contract lifts if you want to understand more about this.

Definition* CPA stands for Construction Plant-hire Association - the CPA represents the interests of over 1,600 plant hire firms in the UK and has been in existence since 1941. CPA crane hire means you are hiring a crane under the CPA conditions which have become the standard hire conditions within the plant-hire industry, outlining the obligations of both the Owner of the Plant and the Hirer (Customer).

Important NoteThe upfront price difference between a crane hire and a contract lift can be over double so make sure you know which one you need.

What type and size crane do I need?

Now that you understand the difference between a standard crane hire and a contract lift, it is important to recognise the different types of cranes available which are all suited to different jobs. Before you try to wrap your head around this, if you are needing a contract lift then it is not necessary for you to know the exact type or size crane you need because the crane firm is responsible for selecting a suitable type and size crane for the job - based on information provided by the customer and a site visit by an Appointed Person.

What type of crane do I need?

The table below lists some of the most common types of cranes. Don't worry if you do not know the type of crane you need because we are here to offer friendly advice via our website live chat if you need some help. Alternatively send us an email or pick up the phone and give our team a call.

TypeDescription
All Terrain Mobile CraneAn all terrain mobile crane is, as the name suggests, an all wheel drive crane suitable for travelling on both the road and gravel. These cranes are often telescopic and are capable of lifting heavy items at large distances. There is a broad spectrum of lifting capacities from below 20te to over 1000te.
City CraneCity cranes are small two-axle mobile cranes designed for use in compact spaces where normal cranes can't access - such as through gates or within buildings. City cranes were developed in the 1990s as a response to the increasing urban density in Japan.
Trailer CraneTrailer cranes are typically towed by a Land Rover or similar vehicle. They have a relatively low lifting capacity but often have a luffing jib to give an extended reach. They are ideal for lifting light loads on building sites such as roof trusses or small AHUs. The trailer crane is usually operated via a remote control and is compact enough to fit in small areas such as the drive into a house.
Crawler CraneSimilar to a mobile crane but fitted with caterpillar tracks to allow the crane to be used on soft and boggy ground where wheeled vehicles would not be well suited. The caterpillar tracks on a crawler crane combined with the broad base of the crane spread the weight over a wide area - this makes them ideal on construction sites with soft soil ground conditions.
Tower CraneTower cranes are most often used on construction sites in cities to erect multi-storey buildings due to their combined height and lifting capacity. The tower crane is anchored to the ground and has two horizontal arms which jut from the central tower - one to suspend the load being lifted and one fitted with concrete blocks which act as a counter-weight.
Mobile Tower CraneThe hybrid which combines mobile and tower cranes, hence the name. These cranes are particularly well suited to lifts in cities where access is tight and the crane needs to situate close to a building. Although their lifting capacity is relatively low, their ability to reach high and far in a confined space combined with fast setup times makes them ideal for lifting items onto tall buildings in cities.
Mini Crane / Spider CraneIdeal for confined spaces, these cranes offer the ultimate combination of compact size and lifting power. Spider cranes travel to lift sites on rubber tracks - allowing them to cover difficult outdoor terrain and get their name from the extendable legs, or stabilisers, deployed to create a firm platform for the mini crane during lift operations.
Truck Mounted CraneAs the name suggests, these are trucks which are mounted with a crane - such as a HIAB. These cranes are ideal for haulage involving heavy items where there is no unloading equipment at the destination. However, they have a relatively low reach and are usually only good for unloading into and adjacent laydown area.

What size of crane do I need?

Unless you are opting for a standard crane hire instead of a contract lift, it is not your responsibility to determine the size crane that you need. However, it always helps when budgeting or trying to look at the logistical viability of your project (or maybe you are just curious) if you know the size of crane that you need. There are a few key factors that affect the size of crane required and we have outlined these in the table for you below.

FactorDescription
WeightThe weight of your item to be lifted is the first factor to consider. Obviously, a heavier load requires a larger crane. However, don't assume this is all that determines crane size - it is important to consider many other factors such as the radius and lift height.
RadiusThe radius is the distance from the centre of the crane's slew ring to the centre of gravity of the load's furthest position from the crane. Do not assume that a light load needs a small crane - for example a 50te crane may be able to lift 50te at a 1m radius but it can lift less than 1te at a 34m radius.
HeightThe height of the lift is the third important factor to consider - for example, if the crane is positioned close to a building it will need to lift higher. The higher the crane needs to lift, the more main boom it will need and the more main boom it needs, the less weight it can lift.
OtherThere are many other factors to consider in addition to the above three and this is the reason that you need an Appointed Person to plan the lifting operations. Unless you have an Appointed Person to do this, you will need a contract lift service.

How much does crane hire cost vary depending on crane type and crane size?

In general, for any given type of crane, the larger the crane is the more expensive the crane hire cost is going to be. Larger cranes might be needed not just because of the weight of a lift, but also the radius, height and many other reasons. If a crane is more specialist, such as a crawler crane, then it is likely that the crane hire cost will be more expensive.

Each type of crane can also be sub-categorised further and this can again affect price. For example, small mobile cranes are usually hired on a minimum daily rate for up to 8 hours on site whereas heavy mobile cranes are usually hired on a minimum daily rate for up to 10 hours on site. Furthermore, heavy cranes can often need to be accompanied by transport which carries parts of the crane which then need fixing onto the main crane on site by a smaller crane - this is because the large crane may be too heavy to travel on the road so it needs to be disassembled and reassembled on site. With larger cranes, you will often pay a higher price on day one which will include the cost of this additional transport and additional crane required to setup the heavy crane and allow for it to mobilise and demobilise (additional consecutive days will then cost less because this cost has been accounted for on day 1 of the hire).

It is also imporant to note that different crane types and crane sizes may be capable of doing to same job. For example, in a particular instance a 200te mobile crane might be able to carry out the same lift that a 5-axle mobile tower crane can but one will be cheaper than the other. Likewise, an oversized crane may not be needed if a trailer crane can do the same job. In other instances, you might require a 35te mobile crane but the crane firm might only have a 50te mobile crane available - this will often be sent in lieu of the 35te crane and you will only be charged for a 35te crane. These are all reasons you need to choose a crane hire firm who will not bamboozle you and instead be honest and work with to keep the price down. At Synergy Lifting, we are a cost conscious firm and if there is a saving to be made we pass this onto our customer.

If you are unsure what type and size of crane you need, it is best for you to get in touch with us and we will determine the most cost effective solution for you.

Our guide to the different types of cranes is coming soon.

Read our full guide to help estimate what size crane you need.

Important NoteWho is responsible for selecting the crane size and type?

  • Crane hire service - customer's responsibility.
  • Contract lift service - crane firm's responsibility.

What else can influence my crane hire cost?

One of the reasons a generic list of crane hire prices is not available is because there are different setups needed for different situations - this can mean that the crane hire cost can be different on different sites even if the same crane is being utilised.

FactorDescription
Time / DateAs with most services, the crane hire cost can vary depending on the time and date of the lifting operations. Most crane hires or contract lifts commence at 08:00 and last for either 8 or 10 hours with a half hour lunch break on top of this. Crane hire will attract premium rates on public holidays, weekends or night shifts due to higher labour costs for those involved in the lifting operation. If the time on site runs into overtime, you will often be charged on a pro rata basis unless otherwise specified - e.g. £500 for 8 hours with overtime charged pro rata would equal £62.5 per hour of overtime.
LocationThe location for your crane hire will also affect your crane hire cost. As with most services and products, your crane hire cost is most likely going to be more expensive in the south of England than it will be in the north.
Ballast / CounterweightCranes can travel on the road with a certain size ballast but they often have additional counterweights that can be transported separately and fitted to the crane on site. For example, a 200te crane 'as travels' might be able to complete lifting operations on one project but it might need additional ballast to complete lifting operations on another project. This means that the crane hire cost can increase or decrease for the exact same make and model of crane on two different projects.
Ground ConditionsThe weight of the crane and the resulting ground pressure needs to be reduced by certain amounts for different ground conditions. A 50te crane on a contract lift might be able to use 3m mats on a site with firm hard-standing but it may need 6m mats on a site with different ground conditions - this could mean there are now additional costs for larger mats and sometimes the additional transport needed for these larger mats and consequently this can increase or decrease crane hire costs.
Labour RequirementsLifting operations typically require the crane operator to operate the crane, a lift supervisor to supervise lifting activities, and a slinger signaller to sling the load and signal the crane. Depending on the job, additional labour might also be required. For example, additional riggers may be needed to help position the load or, if the load is being lifted onto the roof of a building, there may need to be a slinger signaller at ground level to sling the load and one at roof level to remove the slings. The number of labourers and their qualifications will all have an affect on the crane hire cost.
TackleDepending on the item being lifted, different types of tackle may be needed. For example, different capacity or length slings are needed depending on the loads weight and dimensions. Further equipment such as spreader beams might also be needed to ensure items are lifted in the safest method. Standard tackle will not usually be charged for but specialist lifting tackle can be an addition which will increase the crane hire cost.
Other EquipmentTo ensure safe lifting operations, extra equipment might also be needed depending on the circumstances of the lift. For example, two-way radios may be required. This equipment may not always be charged for but it is important to make sure you know whether this is included in the crane hire cost or not.

How do I make sure I get a comprehensive crane hire quote?

If you are getting a CPA crane hire then arranging additional tackle and equipment is your responsibility. However, if you are having a contract lift then this is the crane hire firm's responsibility. It is still important that you are aware of what is included for in your crane hire quote and that you make sure any information requested by the crane hire firm is handed over to them and is correct - if lifting conditions change then they may need to alter the crane, equipment or labour and this can affect your crane hire cost. At Synergy Lifting, we provide both indicative prices for customers looking to budget their project and also firm crane hire prices if the job is going to go ahead. We are experts who do this every day so you can be rest assured that you are going to get a comprehensive contract lift or crane hire quote.

Our guide to the crane tackle and equipment is coming soon.

AdviceIf you are unsure or want to get your crane hire price, feel free to ask us questions using our website's live chat feature or get in touch with us via email or phone.

What will my crane hire cost?

To summaries, your crane hire cost will be affected by a great number of factors. From the type of service you need to the type and size crane you need. Other variables such as date, time, equipment and labour all influence crane hire costs too. This is the reason your crane hire cost will need to be tailored to your specific requirements based on your job. At Synergy Lifting, we aim to give a no obligation crane hire quote on the same working day. We offer friendly advice to and are experienced enough to come up with the safest and most cost effective crane hire solution for you.

Example Quotes for Crane Hire and Contract Lifts

At Synergy Lifting we can give you a quote for either a CPA crane hire or a contract lift depending on what it is that you need. Below are a couple of examples of how a crane hire quote and a contract lift quote will be worded - please note that these prices are for illustration only.

  • Example Crane Hire Quote

    Our quote to supply a 35te mobile crane is a minimum daily rate of up to £380+vat for up to 8 hours on site (working on a weekday with overtime charge pro rata if required). Please note that this is a CPA crane hire under the standard CPA crane hire conditions

  • Example Contract Lift Quote

    Following our site visit and recent conversations, our quote to supply a fully insured contract lift is a minimum daily rate of up to £700+vat for up to 8 hours on site (working on a weekday with overtime charge pro rata if required). This price includes a suitably sized crane, operator, lift supervisor, slinger/signaller, suitable tackle, mats and two-way radios. It also includes a full set of RAMS and a lift plan to be prepared by our Appointed Person prior to the commencement of lifting operations.

Our guide to the RAMS and lift plants is coming soon.

Definition* RAMS is an abbreviation for 'Risk Assessment and Method Statement'. These are thorough documents prepared by an Appointed Person which specify the details of the lift and how any risks will be managed.