This may be an overasked question but how often does a design/build/install contractor rent a piece of equipment before they buy it... such as a skid steer or mini excavator. Is the desired utilization rate... once a week, three times a week or 15 times a month?
From working in tool rental, most of our customers are companies that are just getting started and only need something a few days and don't want to buy yet, companies that only use a piece of equipment a few times a year, or are looking to grow and don't want to commit to buying. Very little is guys that just don't want to store or maintain something that sees regular use, but not everyday use.
I would definitly demo a few different brands/types of any product and then rent them if I can. If the tool, say a skidsteer, is efficent and I can use it in many different ways day in day out, I would probably buy it but it depends of course on the type of equipment, maintenence costs, storage etc!
For tools I use very little, renting is obviously better. For equipment used a few times a week, buying it may be a better option!