Contracting for Snow Removal Services

by Carmen Corbin on March 12, 2012

If you’ve decided to hire a snow removal company to take care of your property this winter, here are a few tips for you to consider before the first snowflake even falls.

Get It in Writing

While it may be tempting to just enter into a friendly, verbal agreement with the neighborhood “guy with the snowplow on his truck,” it’s always better to spell out rates and expectations on paper.  Whether you end up using a sole proprietor, a part-timer or a commercial snow plowing service, it will serve you well to meet with at least three contractors at your home or business and get written estimates.  This will allow you to compare different rates and services in the area.

Important Points to Cover

Before signing any contract, be sure these important points have been covered:

  1. Areas to Be Cleared: Specify whether you want the driveway plowing only, driveway and walkways or driveway/walkways/porch/steps, etc.  Snow plowing the driveway will take different equipment and manpower than someone clearing your sidewalk, which would require snow shoveling or snow blowing, ice melt application, etc.  Expect to pay different rates for each type of service.
  2. Service Rates: Both snow plowing and snow shoveling/snow blowing are usually either billed on an hourly basis or on a flat rate for each snow event.  Because heavier amounts of snowfall will take longer to clear (and may require repeat plowing later), it’s not unusual to see an estimate with a flat rate for 2-4” of snow, another rate for 4-6”, 6-8” and 8”+.  If the snowfall is extremely heavy, they might even request an hourly rate for anything over 12 inches.  Expect to pay an additional fee for any ice melt or sand applied (per bag or per pound).
  3. Where to Pile the Snow: Be specific about where you want the cleared snow to be piled up (beside the driveway, in the yard, side lawn, etc.).
  4. Freezing Rain/Sleet Conditions: Be aware that freezing rain or sleet is a tricky time for ice and snow removal contractors.  If ice melt is applied during the weather event, it is often washed away before it can do any good.  Contractors often have to wait until the precipitation has passed before they can service your property and get the best results.
  5. Ask About Insurance: Just in case they accidentally plow over that row of prized lilac bushes or back the truck over your custom-made mailbox, knowing your contractor is covered by insurance will give you more peace of mind.

One final tip – always ask for current references.  For more information on contracting for snow removal services, contact your local residential snow plowing contractor or landscaping company.

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