How to be sure you are choosing the right rental company
Your big event is coming up and you’ve decided to have it outside. You want to protect yourself from the weather. You choose a name on Google’s list and the person who answers the phone asks you a number of questions and somehow decides what size tent you will work for you. You write down the tent size and the price as well as a list of the other items you need. Armed with that list you call a couple other names on Google’s list and ask for prices on similar items. In the end you choose the cheapest price or maybe the one with the best sales pitch and then wait to see what they deliver.
You’ve just put the success or failure of your event in the hands of strangers without asking some important questions.
- Ask the tent company to create a layout of your event in the tent they have chosen for you.
Good companies all use a program called Party Cad that has libraries of tents and furnishings available to quickly design a floor plan that can assure you will be happy with how everything fits in the tent. After you commit, drawings can take on a lot more detail.
- Does my tent require center poles?
There are many styles of tents. The least expensive are called rope and pole tents. They may or may not have the pretty high peaks everyone seems to like but they all have center poles.. Pole tents are economical, especially in tents wider than 40’. However, they have limitations. The poles get in the way of table layout and limit the size dance floor you can use. They also have ropes and stakes that become tripping hazards.
An upgrade to pole tents is a frame tent. Frame tents are available in widths to 50’ and as long as you have room for. They cost more but your experience will prove worth the additional cost. Some of the advantages of frame tents are:
- No center poles so any layout is possible.
- Fewer guy lines and not tripping hazards since they are close to the leg.
- Legs are twice as far apart as a pole tent but structure is stronger.
- Walls slide open and closed easily.
- Tents can be weighted when staking is not practical.
Downside – Most tent companies don’t own large frame tents and can only offer you pole tents.
- Does your rental company offer a complete range of your needs.
Decorative lighting and emergency lighting, dance floor and stage, a variety of table and chair and linen options as well as table top items.
If a tent goes down in a storm prior to your event, does your tent company have a deep enough inventory to supply another exact tent?
How old is the tent you will be renting. When was the last time it was washed? Is it riddled with pin holes? Will the tent company guarantee your satisfaction with the quality of the tent.
Will the owner or manager of your rental company inspect the job after it is complete or leave the quality up the installation crew?
How well is your company insured? Do they have five million dollars worth of liability coverage? Do they have workers compensation insurance for their men?
Are sidewalls available for my tent? If they are not, your rental company was probably renting you an All Purpose Canopy not a “tent”.
- Are you renting a tent or an All purpose Canopy?
APC’s are the sagging tents you often see in back yards. They are fine sun shelters but poor protection from wind and rain. However, due to the low rental price and the fact that a home owner can pick them up and erect them, they will always be popular for small events.
- Does your tent company call in PA OneCall or the proper authority in your state prior to driving stakes.
It is illegal to drive stakes without having the area checked for underground utilities. Your tent company is liable for a heavy fine and repair costs if they hit a public utility such as water, gas or communication lines. Are they putting the homeowner at risk by neglecting their duty?
- Can my tent be weighted?
Often staking a tent is not possible for a variety of reasons. If needed, can your company provide enough weight to safely hold down your tent. Only frame tents and clear span fabric structures can be weighted. Tents require a minimum of 10 pounds per square foot to be safely weighted. A 30’ x 40’ frame tent requires 12,000 pounds of weight. If your company suggests water barrels they are creating an unsafe situation. A full water barrel weighs 450 pounds unless it springs a leak. The 30’ x 40’ tent would require almost 30 of them. That would be unsightly. Proper weights would be 4 – 2000lb weights and 4 – 1200 lb concrete weights with white vinyl covers.