Things to Know Before Hiring Snow Removal Contractors
Oct 31, 2018 08:32AM
By Clare Heekin Lynch
Boots, sweaters, and (everything) pumpkin spice are the official signs that fall is here. Now that things are starting to cool down outside, it’s time to talk about snow! Yes, you read it right—that cold, wet, white stuff we all love (and hate) at the same time.
For many people in winter denial, it may be surprising to learn that now is the time to secure snow removal services for your residential and/or commercial property. In fact, summer was really the prime time to handle this because the ground was not covered with snow, which makes it easier to do a thorough assessment. Advanced planning helps secure the right equipment and materials for your property.
But whenever you decide you’re ready to choose a snow removal company, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind to ensure you get the best service for your specific needs.
North Hills’ landscaper Chuck Goessler has been adapting to his customers’ needs since 1997, and recommends planning ahead now because you never know when snow is going to fall.
“Start off by getting references and calling more than one company for an estimate,” he said. “Make sure that the contract you discuss includes preventative measures that may be taken prior to snowy and icy weather, as well as identifies any potential safety hazards on the property (such as sprinkler heads lining a driveway) and the type of equipment and resources that will be used.
“Discuss their plan, and even a back-up plan, in case ice-melting products like salt become high in demand and low in supply,” he added. “And keep your pets in mind because you want to use chemicals that are safe for their paws.”
Jawn Funyak, owner of Funyak Landscapes, knows that hiring a service provider can be complex and challenging—but the stakes are even higher when it comes to snow and ice on your property. "Details and professionalism matter, which is why we make sure we go above and beyond to do a conscientious and superior job,” he said, adding that he has spent decades creating a positive company culture while building up a team of hard-working employees. “For my team, landscaping is a real career.”
He advises property owners to check that the contractor they hire is properly insured. “A company should be fully insured in case of damage to property; make sure to get it in writing on your contract and request a statement from their insurer confirming current liability and workers’ compensation coverages,” he said. “You want to partner with a company that is prepared.”
As for cost, prices usually vary based on the square footage being plowed, as well as extras such as clearing sidewalks and pathways, and the cost of supplies. “Make sure to review the written estimate and understand the services and charges,” Goessler said. “Review how pathways and stairs will be cleaned and charged, how and when sand and salt will be applied, and what it will cost. It’s also important to know if the contractor will clear snow while it’s still falling or only after it stops.”
He also advises checking the payment terms. “Try to avoid upfront payments as it is generally wiser to pay as you go for ongoing services,” he said.
Before you sign a contract for snow removal services, review it thoroughly. Make sure that everything in the written estimate is in the contract and read all disclaimers, fine print, and waiver sections. If you find discrepancies or have questions, meet with the contractor to discuss them and ask for changes.
“Both the snow removal company and the client have responsibilities, and it’s important to work out all of the details up front,” said Funyak.
One thing to consider is that many companies have multiple services that could save you time and money in the long run if you have one go-to company for all of your home’s lawn care and landscaping needs throughout the year. “Many of our customers utilize other services we offer because they don’t have to coordinate more than one contractor,” said Funyak. “They know we are going to do what we say we will do because we build our relationships with our customers on value.”
Finally, during major snowstorms, it may take longer for the contractor to reach you and perform the contracted work, so keep in mind that this could make traveling difficult; keep your expectations of your snow removal contractor realistic.
With winter right around the corner, you’re not going to want to be left with endless hours of shoveling. By doing the legwork now, you’ll have time to gather estimates, make an educated decision, and create a solid snow and ice management plan—hopefully before you’re stranded in a blizzard!
To learn more, call Chuck Goessler at 412-766-8918, or visit Funyak Landscapes at https://www.funyaklandscapes.com.