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How to Choose the Best Snow-Removal Contract For You


You’re shoveling your driveway for the third time in one day, and it’s still snowing. You’re sweating under your coat, toes, and fingers numb, thinking you’d trade a winning lottery ticket for a snow-removal guy right now. You look up and see a pickup with a plow driving down the street. Should you flag him down?

No. A drive-by choice is like playing Russian roulette. You might get a good one, but you might not. One bad snow-removal job can make spring cleanup a nightmare. Note well: Snowplowing is not as easy as it looks.

A professional, established snow-removal contractor—not the guy with a plow who needs a little mad money—is your best choice. Sure, many landscapers place a plow on their truck to build winter income, but these guys are still professionals. They’re insured, and they want to keep your business for years.

Before you start contacting snow removal candidates, decide:

1. What you want done: driveway only, driveway and sidewalk(s)
2. How often you want snow plowed (every time it snows or only when it’s more than x inches or only when you call)
3. How important it is that the snow is plowed early in the day
4. Do they offer premium services like clearing snow off your car?

Next, consider the type of snowplow contract you want:

1. A seasonal contract, which is a one-fee-for-the-year deal no matter how many pushes
2. A per-event or per-push contract, which means plow as needed with a bill for each push
3. A name you can call when needed, which means during heavy snowstorms, you’ll likely be “on the list”

Measure your property (it’s used in pricing):

1. Length and width of your driveway
2. Sidewalks, if you need them done
3. Determine if you need the excess snow hauled away (adds cost)

Start the hunt early through:

1. Word of mouth
2. A home-services app or website that knows its contractors and guarantees its services
3. A home-services website that simply lists reviews
4. A Google search for people in your area
5. Local newspaper ads

Read online reviews with a grain of salt. Some reviewers simply enjoy tearing people down. Others write posts for perks. And, sometimes, the reviewer is wrong. I once read a scathing review of a roofer. The roofer responded to the post, simply stating, “I have never done a roof in your town!” I hired him, and he did a tremendous job.

Narrow your choices to three contractors and request they come to give you an analysis, fee, and a copy of the contract. Ask for references and call those people (this is important).

Watch for contract bugaboos (read every word). The contract should state that the contractor must maintain that insurance through the length of the contract. Be sure the contract does not state that you (the client or property manager) are responsible for damages, claims, losses, liabilities, and so on. Tell the person that, if hired, you will need a copy of his insurance face sheet, including liability for customer property damage/injury and worker compensation coverage, if he has employees. Be certain the contract dictates who will do the work.

The contract should also include:

  • • Description of where snow is being removed (driveway, front sidewalk, rear sidewalk, etc.)
  • • What dictates the need for plowing (usually inches of snow)
  • • Costs of extra services, such as salting or a second push due to road plows blocking the end of your driveway or additional snow
  • • Hours of operation
  • • Where the snow is to be pushed on your property
  • • How is the payment made?
    •      o Most per season contracts require payment at signing
    •      o Per-push contracts are often billed monthly (watch for “fluff” charges like billing fees)
    •      o By-call snowplow services may require payment at the time of service
  • • Equipment to be used (pickup truck with six-foot plow or men armed with shovels, etc.)
  • • Term of the agreement, such as November 1 to April 1
  • • Indemnification (that liability part we mentioned earlier)
  • • Timing of plowing (within 24 hours of snowfall or by a certain time each day—be aware that you need to be flexible here due to the variances of snowfall)
  • • How to reach the snow plower (business phone, cell phone, address)

For busy, stressed homeowners, finding a snow-removal person is a major undertaking. But, dare we say it, “There’s an app for that!”

You can download a snow plow app on your smartphone, like the one from Plowz and Mowz, and quickly request an Uber-style snowplow operator. Just sign in and pay. If something goes awry, you have a prominent business standing behind the work.


Posted on January 20, 2021

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