How to Start a Scaffolding Business

As of 2023, the number of licensed and registered scaffolding businesses in the USA stood at 30,302. This shows that this profitable construction niche is not yet overloaded. Thus both small and large-scale entrepreneurs can venture into it and still make profits with minimal effort. 

In this guide, we will outline the key steps on how to start scaffolding business successfully. Additionally, we will discuss the scaffolding contractor insurance coverage you’ll need to protect and boost income. From cost estimation to legal considerations, this introduction will provide you with a solid foundation for starting your scaffolding venture.

What is a Scaffolding Business?

A scaffolding business specializes in erecting scaffolding made of wood or steel that helps strengthen the existing structures as well as provide a sidewalk for workmen constructing buildings. Scaffolding is a temporary structure utilized in construction, renovation, maintenance, and repair projects to provide a secure working platform for workers of different heights. Typically, the company provides an extensive array of scaffolding solutions, including various types of scaffolding systems, such as tube and clamp, frame, and modular scaffolds.  They may also provide additional services such as scaffolding design, inspection, and dismantling, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and industry standards.

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How to Start a Scaffolding Business

Below is an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to start a scaffolding business: 


Research and Choose Your Business Location

Determining location is the first step in how to set up a scaffolding business. These are the factors you need to consider when choosing your business locations:

  • Accessibility and convenience of your clients–Just because your working space is located in a busy street doesn’t mean that you will get lots of clients. So, make sure that you chose a location where your clients can easily pinpoint your business.

  • Rent–It wouldn’t be a wise idea to rent a working space that costs you $70,000 per month yet you make profits of $100,000 a month. It’s vital that you chose a location where the cost of rent is subtle when compared to the profit margins.

  • Security–No client will set foot in your business premises if they hear a customer got mugged while exiting your offices. So, make sure that you choose a location where safety is a priority.

Conduct a Thorough and Extensive Market Research

After choosing your scaffolding business location, you can then proceed to conduct a thorough research on your target market. You need to learn their construction needs and how much they pay for it. Below are some of the things you should look into when conducting your scaffolding market research:


Your Business Competitor

Determine whether your potential clients are satisfied with your competitors’ services. And if they are, what can you do to ‘win’ them and convince them that you will offer them better deals? Know how much your competitors charge for their services. Come up with strategies to offer better prices. If this is impossible, then think of a solution that will entice your potential clients to purchase their service from you.

For instance, you can provide your customers with discounts if they refer a customer to you. You can also introduce a customer loyalty program, where with each purchase a customer earns redeemable points. This way, you will influence them to purchase more from you since they are assured of a price. You can also offer them an after-sale service. For instance, after reinstalling your scaffolding materials from their premises, you can offer to clean any litter or junk caused by your operations.


Invest in a Business 

Know how your pool market sources their information about your business. Is it through social media? If so, which social media handle do they use more? When you find out, actively post what your services will entail, where your business will be, and the incentives you have to offer to both new and existing clients. If it’s through signage, invest in making a signage that speaks volumes about your scaffolding business. 


Put Down a Realistic Business Plan

A detailed and carefully executed business plan will lead your business to success. The vice versa is true. If you are a novice business owner, we recommend that you have a pro help you in crafting a business plan. Some of the must-include things in your business plan include:

  • Your vision and mission as a scaffolding business

  • The threats you stand to face and strategies you will use to deal with them

  • The managerial team and system you intend to run your business in

  • The kinds of scaffolding services and products you intend to offer

  • The number of employees you will hire and if there will be any future addition

  • Strategies you will use to market your business

  • Expenditure you expect to use while starting and running your business

  • Your expected profits

  • Where you will get funds to expand your business

Identify an Underutilized Niche and Monopolize It

Make sure that you identify an underutilized niche in your target area and monopolize it. Below is a list of the different niches of scaffolding you can venture into and specialize in:

  • Cantilever scaffolding–Also known as needle scaffolding. Scaffolding businesses that provide services in areas or states with unstable grounds. For instance, scaffolding companies that operate in Western North Dakota can monopolize installing this type of scaffolding.

  • Patented scaffolding–Best for scaffolding companies whose target market primarily builds very high-story buildings.

  • Suspended scaffolding–Best if your target market is painting contractors or wall cleaning companies.

  • Steel scaffolding–This type of scaffolding method is fast to install and dismantle, making it best for scaffolding companies that provide short-term scaffolding services.

  • Trestle scaffolding–Also known as ladder scaffolding. Best for newly established scaffolders who want to specialize in installing scaffolds on bungalows.

Each of these scaffolding methods has its pros and cons. Hence make sure that you choose a niche that will best suit your business needs and ensure a return purchase rate.



Give Your Business a Name and Register It

There are some states where you cannot be licensed or allowed to operate if you haven’t registered your business name. So, make sure that you come up with a business name that’s unique to you and relevant to your scaffolding business. 

Ensure that you choose a short business name that is easy to pronounce and spell. Before you register it, please ensure that there is no other business whose name is similar to yours. You can do this by checking with your state’s filing agency or with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks office.


Comply With Your State’s Business Laws

You must find papers for your scaffolding business. Below are things you need to follow in this step on how to start a scaffolding company:


Obtain Your Employer Identification Number

You should obtain your employer identification number (EIN) before you open up your scaffolding business. All you need to do is to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You can do so by filling out an IRS form on the IRS official website. Or you can email or call them by phone.


Get the Necessary Scaffolding Business Licensing Requirements

You cannot operate as a scaffolding company until you acquire the necessary scaffolding licensing requirements as demanded by your state’s law. Below are some of the general scaffolding licensing requirements:

  • You must be a journeyman with a journey-level working experience of 4 years. A journeyman is a scaffolder who has worked full-time under zero supervision in a certified scaffolding company or for a licensed contractor with a D-39 license.

  • You must have documents that prove you are an experienced scaffolder

  • You must pass a criminal background check. You will not be issued a scaffolder license if you are on parole or probation

  • You must obtain a signature from a qualified individual. Your former supervisor, whom you have worked with for the last 10 years, or your fellow journeyman can provide you with their signature. A union representative, business associate, licensed general contractor, and C-61 license holder can also act as qualifying individuals.

Purchase the Appropriate Insurance Coverage

Most states will not allow you to operate if you do not purchase their state-mandated requirements. Some of the must-have scaffolding business insurance requirements include:

  • General liability insurance

  • Professional liability insurance

  • Commercial property insurance

  • Commercial auto insurance

  • Workers compensation insurance

  • Business owner’s policy

Please note that most states require you to meet a certain coverage limit for the above insurance policies. Thus, it would be best to confirm with a certified insurance agency or company on what coverage limits your state requires you to have.

A construction worker on a scaffolding.


How Much Does It Cost to Start a Scaffolding Business?

Now that you know the steps, let’s discuss how much does it cost to start a scaffolding business. A minimum of $3,035 and a maximum of $35,973 is the startup cost of a scaffolding enterprise. And on average, you will spend approximately $19,297 to start and operate a small-scale scaffolding business. Below is a list detailing the costs you are to incur while setting up your scaffolding business in any state:


Rent

The geographical location of your business and the space you are to occupy directly determines your monthly rent. For instance, if you are to lease or rent a small to medium-sized office in Florida, then you should expect to pay $1,200. And if you lease or rent the same size of office in Manhattan, then you are likely to pay a monthly rent of over $80,300. It will cost you approximately $950 to remodel your commercial premises to align with your scaffolding business operations.

Despite this cost being optional, it’s essential. Your business branding (visual design of your building) exudes professionalism, which is of great importance in the scaffolding industry. Imagine marketing yourself as a construction company, yet your commercial building looks like a boutique or a bakery.


Business Formation Expenses

The cost of incorporating your business into an S corporation, C corporation, or limited company ranges between $55 to $600. Please note it is not mandatory to incorporate your business for you to operate it. You can either operate it on a partnership basis or as a sole proprietorship. However, there are a lot of perks that come with incorporating a business. These perks include:

  • Safeguards your assets–When you incorporate your business, your assets and the income you generate from your business become legally separated. This ensures that creditors or any financial institution cannot use your private assets to settle your business debts.

  • Benefit from tax breaks–You can write off your health insurance premiums and savings on self-employment taxes when you incorporate your business.

  • Easily transfer of funds–Business corporations have little to zero fund transfer restrictions compared to partnership and sole proprietorship businesses.

Insurance Cost

It’s a fact that any business, whether small, medium, or large scale, is faced with an unprecedented risk that can cause the business to temporarily or permanently shut down. Fortunately, by purchasing the right scaffolding insurance policy, your business activities, income, and assets will still be protected from such financially debilitating risks. The monthly insurance cost for a small scaffolding business is $37 per month or $444 per year. 


Software Expenses

By investing in software tools, you not only cut down on the cost of employment but also save time. Below is a list of the necessary software you should invest in and their costs:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software cost ranges between $12 to $300

  • Accounting and invoicing software costs roughly $50

  • Payroll software costs approximately $200

  • Social media management tools (not optional but very necessary) cost approximately $50

Website Costs

Your company’s website legitimizes your business. It also showcases the services you offer, the products you deal in, and the price you charge for them. Here is a summary showing how much you will spend on your scaffolding business website:

  • Domain name–Will cost you an average of $106

  • Website hosting–Costs an average of $150

  • Website builder–Costs an average of $255

Advertising and Marketing Expenditure

If you are to set up your scaffolding business in a highly competitive area, then we recommend that you advertise and market it. This way, your target market will be informed about your business. Here is a breakdown of the types of advertising and marketing strategies you can use and their costs:

  • Business signage–Will cost you a minimum of $75 and a maximum of $2,486

  • Direct campaigns–You will incur approximately $500

  • Google ads–Expect to pay a maximum of $300


How Much Does a Scaffolder Earn?

Below is a table summarizing the hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly salary of a typical and experienced scaffolder working in the USA:

Type of scaffolder Hourly Pay Weekly Pay Monthly Pay Annual Py
Typical scaffolder (with minimal or little experience $23.50 $940 $4,074 $48,890
Experienced scaffolder $68.13 $1,635 $6,541 $78,500

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Insurance Requirements to Boost Your Income

Below are some of the must-purchase insurance policies if you are to boost your scaffolding business income:


Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy bundles commercial property and general liability insurance. Nonetheless, it can also feature other insurance policies. Go for a BOP if you want to enjoy numerous policies but don’t want to spend much on premiums. For BOP, we recommend you work with NEXT as it provides a 5% discount. 


General Liability Insurance

This policy protects you against third-party lawsuits and financial liability if your business operations, or the products you sell, distribute, or manufacture cause your client bodily injury or property damage. Your insurer will cover you against the following financial liabilities and claims:

  • Accidental third-party bodily injury or property damage

  • Defamation claims made against your business by your clients or competitor following the release of an advert.

  • Copyright infringement lawsuits

  • Reputational harm lawsuits

Thimble is the best insurance company to purchase your short-term general liability insurance policy from.


Professional Liability Insurance

This is a commercial policy that specifically provides coverage to business owners who primarily provide professional services. This policy covers you against the following claims and financial liabilities:

  • Provision of a bad piece of advice that allegedly caused third-party bodily injury or property damage

  • Committing an error, mistake, or oversight during your service provision

  • Inability to render your services at the promised time/date

  • Violation or a breach of contract

  • Gross professional misconduct

Important to note is that this policy doesn’t cover you against lawsuits arising from fraudulent or criminal acts. It also doesn’t cover you if your current or former employee sues you for discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination.

Hiscox ranks as one of the best insurance companies to purchase your professional liability insurance from.


Commercial Property Insurance

Also known as business property insurance. This policy protects your business’s physical and liquid assets against fire, theft, vandalism, and some natural disasters such as hailstorms and windstorms. This policy doesn’t provide coverage for damages or losses caused by floods and earthquakes or acts of war and terrorism. Through this policy, your insurer pays for the cost of repairing and replacing your commercial property after the insured perils/risks damage them.

CoverWallet is among the top-rated commercial property insurance provider in the USA.

Commercial Auto Insurance

This policy shields you from financial liabilities in the event you are the at-fault driver who causes third-party bodily injuries, property damages, or death. It also covers your medical expenses and the medical expenses of those traveling in your vehicle if you sustain auto-related bodily injuries. Vehicle repair and replacement costs arising from collison and non-collision events (fire, theft, vandalism, lightning, landslides) are also covered under this policy.

Up to date, Tivly dominates as one of the best commercial auto insurance providers in the USA.


Workers Compensation Insurance

It’s only in Wyoming and Texas where employers are not mandated by law to purchase workers compensation insurance. Workers comp insurance is an employer-funded insurance policy that is used to compensate employees who get work-related injuries and illnesses. This policy also caters to the lost wages of an employee up to a certain period at a state-regulated percentage.

Each state provides the minimum and maximum percentage of compensating such an employee. Death, disability, and dismemberment benefits are also compensated via this invaluable scaffolding business insurance coverage.

The Hartford insurance company serves as one of the best workers comp insurance carriers in the USA.

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