Winter is here and so is the snow! If you have a driveway, it is time to start shoveling again. Whether you use a shovel or a snow blower, it can be a very time-consuming and annoying task. If you actually enjoy shoveling ALL winter, send me a note and I will let you come shovel my driveway anytime. Anyway, maybe it is because we are getting older but the thought of clearing the driveway this year just didn’t appeal to us. I am usually frugal when it comes to house chores but not frugal enough to shovel my own driveway!
Why we chose the snow removal service this year:
So this year, after lots of consideration, we decided to sell our snow blower and hire a snow removal service. Some of you may enjoy shoveling your driveway (great exercise and plenty of fresh air) or use the snow blower (I know it is just like a big toy) but for some of us it is just one more chore to the list. I don’t like spending money on task we can easily do ourselves but sometimes there are other factors to consider. Be the judge, here are the main reasons we gave up on doing it ourselves this year (or how to come up with really good excuses to spend money on something we could do ourselves):
- More sleep – I leave for work at 7 AM which means one of us has to be out before then to clear the driveway. It is dark and cold and really early, just not our thing anymore!
- Job has to get done even when we are not around. If it snows while you are away, everybody will know you are gone if the snow is not cleared (ie: potential thieves) . Then when you get back, the first thing you will have to do is clear your driveway! We plan to go away more often as we get older and don’t want to have to worry about it.
- Enjoy the extra time in the evening – Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you get home is clear your driveway so you can park your car.
- A good snow blower is not cheap.
- Reclaim the extra space in the garage. Snow blowers take a lot of space ( I know shovels don’t)
- Maintenance – A snow blower needs maintenance and repairs (and gas), like any other type of equipment they can break down. If it does, you have to fix it quickly so you can keep clearing your driveway.
- Our time is valuable and the cost of the snow service is totally worth it!
We sold our snow blower online in just one hour! And got a really good price for it. We signed up for our snow removal service (with a reputable company) who happens to clear most of the driveways in our neighborhood. Got our first real snow this week-end and somebody else cleared the driveway! Because we are still frugal we didn’t pay the additional amount to have the path and steps cleared, this is something we can do at our own leisure (or can easily get the kids to do) so we didn’t feel it was worth it. Total cost for our double driveway is $400 + tax, I hope it snows a lot this year!
If you are not sure if it is worth it for you, do the math. Add up the average number of hours you spend shoveling on any given year then multiply it by your hourly rate. Then call a snow service and find out how much they charge. Compare the two numbers. Is it really worth it for you to keep doing it yourself? (Assuming you don’t enjoy it)
What you need to do before hiring a snow removal service:
Now, if you decide to hire a snow service, do your homework. Here is a quick checklist of what you should do:
- Obtain at least three estimates.
- Use a contractor who has been in business for a few years and that comes recommended by friends or neighbors. We hired the service our neighbor was using last year. They were always there when needed.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau for potential complaints about the snow removal company.
- Find out if your contractor needs any specific license from your local government and check if he meets the requirement (you can also ask them directly).
- Make sure your contractor is insured and has proof of insurance. You want the contractor to be able to cover any cost in case damage is done to your driveway or landscape.
- Don’t pay all at once; pay half at the beginning of the season, and the other half towards the end.
- Pay by check or credit card so you have proof of payment.
- Get a written contract with the contractor’s name, address and telephone number. Your contractor should provide you with a written agreement that clearly spells out all the services:
- Is it fixed price or based on the amount of snowfall for the season?
- When can you expect the snow service to clear your driveway? You want to make sure the snow is removed before you need to leave for work
- Is there an additional fee to clear path, steps and porches? And how much?
- Will they use sand and/or salt? Does it cost extra?
- What is the snowfall threshold to trigger the snow removal services?
- Is there an extra charge if the snow removal contractor has to come back the same day?
- Any additional charges in case of severe snow storms?
- Does the contractor charge extra for work on statutory holidays?
- Are there any other potential additional charges?
- Can you terminate the agreement if you need to?
Maybe our next move should be to install a heated driveway:) May be worth it to look into it.
How about you readers, snow blower or snow removal service? Any additional tips on what you should do before hiring a snow removal service?