Friday, November 15, 2013

Snowed under

By Kaile Warren

If you have not already signed a contract for snow plowing services, chances are you are a procrastinator. Typically, August and September are good months to get your plowing needs under contract. Having said that, there is timeless advice related to hiring a contractor that I would like to share. The snow plowing industry is one of the least regulated industries a homeowner will deal with. Yet, the collateral damage that an unreliable plowing contractor can cause ranges from frustrating, to life-or-death situations.

Most people believe that there are only a few items that need to be hashed out with the plow company (i.e., time of plowing, snow depth of each plow, where to push snow, insurance and driveway markers). While these are worthy considerations, I would like to share other issues that you should work out with your plowing contractor.

Do not be afraid to question your plowing contractor about his or her skills.  If you have a gravel driveway, ask the plow operator what he or she does differently when plowing a gravel surface, as opposed to an asphalt surface. The plow operator should tell you they lower the plow shoes when plowing gravel surfaces, so that the plow does not remove the surface. If the operator does not know this, chances are you will experience collateral damage to your driveway at some point. Ask the plowing contractor if they are current on their snow plow truck payments. This may seem a bit personal, but you would be surprised at how often plow trucks are repossessed, leaving the client in a real bind. Work out specific terms related to any needed snow removal. No one likes surprises, and if a home owner/plowing contractor's relationship is going to be challenged, it usually comes from a snow removal need. 

There is a lot to consider when hiring a plowing contractor. Unfortunately, far too little effort goes into interviewing and working out a solid contract. Most plow operators try to do a good job. However, do not hesitate to set your demands, ask the tough questions and shop around.

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