Are you ready for winter? It’s okay – no one really is. But be prepared by figuring out what you’re going to do when the snow starts to fall now.
Commercial plowing is a great option, but finding the right contractor and choosing a contract or commitment that works for you can be tricky. Below, we’ve put together a quick, easy guide to understanding plowing contracts.
A Good Snow Removal Contract Covers…
- when services will be performed
- where services will be performed
- who is responsible for initiating services
- the responsibilities of both parties, the contractor and you
- the cost and how frequently that cost is incurred
Clearly Define When Services Should be Performed
When creating a snow plowing contract or hiring a snow plowing contractor for the season, the first order of business should be to define when services will be performed. Make sure both you and your contractor clearly understand when plowing or other services need to take place.
For example, a contract might stipulate that plowing services will only be performed after an accumulation of 2 inches of snow. If you feel this doesn’t meet your needs, make sure you communicate that, and define what would better suit you and your property.
Additional ice control services, like sanding and or salting, may be on an “as needed” basis. Make sure you know the definition of “as needed” – an accumulation of ice, or when you request it? Usually, upon request is the best way to manage these services. You know your property best!
Clearly Designate Areas to be Serviced
Where the services will be performed is an equally important part of any contract. Clearly designate the areas you wish to be plowed, shoveled, snow blown, or salted/sanded. If it helps, draw a diagram of your property to share with your contractor. This will avoid confusion about responsibilities, lower your costs, and lower the possibility of damage to your property.
Have Responsibilities Outlined
It is highly unlikely that a contractor can offer 24-hour surveillance of your premises. Does your contract stipulate that it is your responsibility to call and request services in the event of a snow accumulation? Are you in charge or determining when salting or other ice control services are to be performed?
Outline both party’s responsibilities up front to avoid unnecessary confusion later. This an especially important point if you own a commercial space or multiple-family housing, such as an apartment building or complex. High traffic can create dangerous conditions – small amounts of now, once compacted by tires, can become icy and hazardous. Make sure you and your contractor are clear on who is responsible for initiating services in these kinds of situations.
Ask About Subcontractors
Many commercial snow contractors use subcontractors to assist with a service or to perform the service in the event that the contractor is unable to. While most companies are very good about this, it’s a good idea to ask your contractor if they use subcontractors, and to ensure that those subcontractors are adequately insured, experienced, and reliable.
Cost will usually be based on area to be serviced, and accumulation per event. For example, an estimate might read “Your snow plowing cost for 2014-2015 season is $150.00 per event.” Additional services like salting or sanding are commonly extra.
In the event of a major storm, most contractors will have a surcharge for dealing with uncommonly large amounts of snow. Make sure your contract clearly defines what a major storm is; for example, “an accumulation of more than 10 inches of snow.” Having these definitions in the contract makes it easier for you and your contractor to be prepared. Make sure you know these costs up front.