When winter snowstorms arrive, home owners have several choices for snow removal. Each has pros and cons and will be most effective if you plan ahead.
If you have a small area to clear, a snow shovel may be all you need. Not surprisingly, local home improvement stores tend to run out of these items when a big storm is anticipated. Be sure to have a snow shovel on hand to avoid emergency situations. You may also want to stock up on ice melt for walkways and doorsteps while you’re there, but be sure to read the warnings as some chemicals can cause damage to surfaces.
If your driveway is lengthy or you just aren’t looking for the added exercise of shoveling, consider purchasing a snow blower. These are available at local home improvement stores as well and can easily meet the needs of the average home owner.
Remember to clear sidewalks and mailboxes. The City of Bend requires sidewalks to be cleared no later than six hours after snowfall in commercial areas and within a day in others. Additionally the United States Postal Service requires that property owners keep the areas in front of and around their mailbox free of ice and snow. Don’t forget the city plows can often create a berm at the ends of driveways restricting access to mailboxes!
Hiring a professional to remove your snow is by far the easiest means of snow removal, but requires a bit of planning. Contractors can be hired on a per-time basis which is usually invoice monthly with customers being charged each time the service is provided; on a full-season contract (generally November 1-March 31) which is quoted and paid up front; or on a will-call status where customers call out contractors per job, this usually has a higher price tag. Snow removal generally includes your driveway and parking area, may include a walkway and deck and occasionally includes roof clearing. Contractors should be licensed and insured.
Questions to ask potential contractors:
- What services do you provide? Be sure to understand the details of your contract. Will your driveway be plowed when snow reaches a certain threshold (eg 3 inches)? What if it keeps snowing? Will plows come multiple times per storm? How is that charged?
- What planning will take place before the storm? Will the contractor provide a site visit?
- What priority is given to my needs? If you have special needs or time restrictions be sure to define them with the contractor.
- What is the cost and how is it calculated? Hourly? Per inch? Per square foot? Be sure you understand the services that will be provided and how you’ll be charged.
A little planning now will make your winter so much easier, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the snowfall.