Whether to Hire or buy a mini digger

Happy Christmas everyone :christmas_tree::princess::partying_face:
Just wanted views on diggers .We have a zillions renovation jobs we need to complete. My partner wants to try doing as much as poss as has now retired . He has been looking at buying a mini digger in Uk and bringing it across but when finished he will sell it on. I think he should hire with or without a man to operate. We really need a new car and can’t see how we can afford this but he’s getting carried away :tired_face: any views appreciated , we live near Castillon la bataille , thank you

Hi Carrie

What works are you considering… for the mini-digger?

and how experienced is your OH with using a mini-digger??

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There are some tools we’ve bought that have been worth their weight in gold the amount we’ve used them versus the cost of purchase.

However I wouldn’t class a mini-pelle in that category. You can hire one for about 150/day so you would have to plan to use one a lot to make it worthwhile. To me it’s best not to budget for resale, as something could happen to it to make it impossible to sell. So cost of purchase + cost of transport + maintainance + repairs would add up to a lot of days of hiring one. And sometimes you might want a different type of machine…

But our renovation project wasn’t enormous. And for the garden we planned work so we could hire one for a week and get loads done. If your project is immense then maybe worthwhile.

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@Roucaud - we had exactly the same discussion over a bbq. Our neighbours said that they wished they had bought a mini digger prior to starting renovation as they have used one over and over again.

Having been at our house when Septic Tank was put in it was not complex and a mini digger would have made light work of it.

(most importantly however you definitely need to get one as you live near us!)

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I’ve owned one previously and it was fantastic, super useful to have around. I sold it after five years for what I paid for it. However, I was quite lucky, I maintained it myself as much as I could manage but I was never able to find a mechanic to do anything more and the nearest Komatsu service center was over an hours drive and if you thought car servicing was expensive at main dealers…

It’s a good idea in principal and with a bit of luck. I would suggest getting a machine 2.5 tons or under with as low guaranteed hours as you can afford and good service history. Keep it in the dry if possible. But most importantly find a service center as close as possible (you’ll need a trailer and a big vehicle to tow it unless you find a mobile mechanic). Keep it greased and well maintained and it will be invaluable!

Quick change attachment system and three buckets would be a good start too. I would expect to pay around 10k for something like this.

Check for backlash when you buy it too (lots of play in the boom)

Good luck!


Please tell me where, last time the delivery was €250 and the hire for the weekend €480. (Kiloutou)

Try the local Bricomarché stores John, also have a look at local FB pages, always someone around ready to hire out equipement…

When I first got my house it needed a lot of work outside that needed a digger. We hired one for 3-4 days and that meant that the earth that had built up over a metre around the north and east sides of the house could be removed, 4000 square metres of land could levelled and the fosse could be installed. I even dug out the hollow which is now my sheltered vegetable and herb garden. The total cost would have been less than the fuel and ferry costs for driving to the U.K. and towing one back. To me a no brainier. If I needed a digger now, and I don’t, I have a friend who bought an elderly mini-digger a couple of years ago who is always begging me to use it. He has used it to remove the silt from a small pond on his land and as an over the top early season gardening tool. It’s spends most of its time sitting there going rusty. He would like to see it being used more but he really has no need for it. Hire the digger and buy a car.


Hi Carrie, I am sure it is confusing getting contradictory opinions but I can only provide my actual experience.
One of my biggest regrets was not buying a minipelle from the UK for my renovation (I also should have bought a dumper truck), my builders also whole heartedly agreed. I assume you have quite a sizeable renovation, we needed it for tree root removal, foundation preparation, patio construction, French drainage system, excavating the pump holding tank for grey water, septic tank replacement, ground levelling, debris disposal, running external electrical & water lines. Not to mention the work on a new swimming pool & countless small jobs.

In the UK I would always rent but that common sense does not prevail in the France. The rental agencies (we used numerous) services were shocking & the cost of one days rental was the equivalent of a week in the UK. Most of the machinery delivered was frankly ready for the scrap yard. The concept of a days rental in France is not 24 hours but someone shows up sometime in the morning (9am, 10am or whenever they like) & picks up at 4.30pm. Also a day is measured by hours of machinery use & is restricted with no relation to the days rental. We had rental agencies say we used the equipment too much per day (foolishly thinking we could use it for the days that we rented). None of the machinery has lights (so cannot be used when the sun goes down), which I believe is intentional. Also if you needed a machine at short notice it usually took 3 days to get delivered.

It would have been much cheaper to have bought a minipelle than rent but the biggest cost was the frustration of dealing with the rental agencies. I would estimate we spent well over £5,000 with the rental agencies (just for minipelles) but it would have been so much easier to have had our own machine to hand.

I am not a fan of wheel barrows but if you value your husbands back then I would listen to his skepticism about renting here in France if you have a reasonable size job. You will have much more efficiency having the equipment permanently on site.

Lastly I cannot believe if he bought a well maintained machine he would not get his money back at the end of the job. It appears there is a shortage of well maintained equipment in France & I would be surprised if there is not a ready market.

Our building experience was pretty good overall but I am not exaggerating when I say our biggest regret was not purchasing the proper machinery (from the UK) at the start & not being captive to the rental agencies.




We must be very lucky here. There are two hire companies here opposite each other on the main road through the town. Perhaps the competition between them keeps the quality of the machinery up and the prices down. I don’t understand the comments about wheelbarrows, they’re a wonderful invention for stress free load carrying. I often joke that my wheelbarrow was the best thing I ever bought, 23 on and still going strong despite almost daily use.

I think we got the last one from local Big Mat, but a friend went to get it so no delivery. Thinking about it, we have a professional account with them as made a big difference when doing our renovation so maybe that was trade price. Our mason organised the opening of an account for us, which was great.

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Happy new year, if I where you I would definitely buy one as I was in the same position when I bought my house in 2000, I could have bought a mini digger for about £6000 at the time so decided to hire!!! big mistake as I have spent over £10,000 .

WOW! That’s impressive.

Thanks everyone , back now in France and convinced otherhalf to hire one and save up for a new car instead. Plus sooo cold at night need a bigger wood burner !!


You can always drive to Leclerc in a digger!

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Interesting thread as we’ve got the same decision to make as we start our project. This will involve digging foundations, pool, 30-40m trenches for water, electric, drains and clear out a 300sqm barn,. So plenty of work for a digger. A new neighbour has offered use of one although he has no trailer for the 2 mile journey and need to check it was a serious offer and not influenced by the wine consumption. Perhaps buy the trailer if it’s a serious offer?

It’s been about 25 years since I used to drive a mini digger so will look at pricing a man & machine and batch a day or 2 of work up. Anyone know the typical price of a man & machine per day?

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Buying a machine is ok as they are easily resellable. The thing to watch ot for is the pins that connect the varios buckets Once they begin to go the replacement costs are very heavy.
I would definitely rent then there’s no risk.

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It does depend upon what you want it for. A few years ago I bought a tractor from the UK as it was a fraction of the price here. One of the many attachments that I bought, again from the UK was a box grader. It was very good for levelling land prior to digging the drainage for a sand school. I was amazed at how much soil the grader would move and how easily.
I hired a French chap with a JCB to do some foundation work for a slab, but then hired a mini digger myself. After some instruction from a friend, I was away. My drainage trenches were not as straight as my friends, but they work. Much cheaper than hiring a man and digger. However, if a track comes off, it takes a while to get it back on, certainly the first time.
The tractor has been the best tool that I have bought. If you do buy a digger, make sure it is a well known make as spares might be difficult to obtain here. Get a good trailer such as an Ifor Williams if you plan to buy and then sell on. If you register the trailer here (legally you should), you’ll probably make money on that too.

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Thanks for the trailer tip Paul I hadn’t realised you have to register them, so that’s a good thing to know as my dad is giving me his small trailer when we move over. Incidentally where and how do you do this? And is it the same for a caravan to? Only we may look to buy one of these soon so use while we renovate the house. Any advice greatly accepted.

We are going to have a lot of work for a digger as we have ditches to maintain, septic tank and all the pipe runs to install mains water trenches, and two small ponds to dredge and maintain not to mention garden to level and landscape. So I think purchasing is going to be our best route. I was a landscape gardener so am an experienced user. The choice in the UK is far greater and cheaper by a country mile I think bringing it over on the ferry is going to be cost effective in the long term.