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Economics of plowing myself

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by mark24, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    For the last 4 years I have been paying someone to remove the snow from my driveway. The cost I have gone with has been the season cost of $750. I have a big driveway with a hill.

    I plan on being in this house for the next 20 years as it is my dream home. So my question is should I plan on forking over more than $15,000 over that time to have someone plow me out every year or should I buy my own plow? I've also tinkered with the idea of plowing my neighbors driveways too for additional dough.

    What would you do? Buy the plow or pay the man?
  2. SnowMatt13

    SnowMatt13 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,559

    1. Do you plan on having a vehicle that will hold a plow for the next 20 years?
    2. If you do more than your own drive, you will need additional insurance. Don't think that since it's just the neighbor and you're good friends, that he would look the other way if something happened.
    3. Do it. Used plow in good condition & just to plow your drive.
  3. THE BOSS 1975

    THE BOSS 1975 Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    you could buy a nice truck for 5000.00 you just have to do some research. There are people that have bought new and are now selling them ,that they only used for personal may be a older truck but sometimes older is better ! And if you plan on doing other driveways you have to get liability insurance ,otherwise you could be the one looking from the outside in of your old house !
  4. NJ Plowman

    NJ Plowman Senior Member
    Messages: 794

    It's not worth it, for the $750 per season you can snuggle up in a cozy bed with your woman and watch the snow fall out your bedroom window, wake up to find your driveway already plowed, and not have to worry about driving something with an 8 foot wide, 800lb piece of steel hanging off the front of it. You don't have to get up early, worry about your equipment, worry if you hit something burried in the snow, worry about hitting another car with your plow, worry about someone slipping on the property that you just plowed and them sueing you and becomming the new owner of your dream house that you thought that you would live in for the next 20 years...like I said, it's not worth it. If you get into the snow business, do it as a living and make some money to go alone with ALL THE HEADACHES THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE SNOW BUSINESS!!!! :nono:

    For $750 per season you are getting off cheap...why not go into the insurance business, you pay that too! :eek:
  5. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    Yeah, I wish my drive was plowed before I woke up. Not sure about other parts of the country, but here they plow the commercial lots first and then come over to do the residentials. I have never been plowed out before I leave my driveway in the 4 years I've been here. None of them can guarantee that or give me a single pass to help get me out.

    I'm thinking a used plow would be the route for me. Isn't it easy enough to just get different connecting parts if I want to change trucks? Why change the whole plow? I just sold my 2000 F150 and got a 2006 F150. I plan on using that for the next 6 years.

    I have to laugh at the insurance business comparison. We're talking snow, not something that's actually complicated. I used to ride in the truck with my Dad when I was learning to drive. He would plow us a rink sometimes. My brother even did it when he was 16 or 17. I never got the chance as we moved. I've had three idiots that have attempted to plow my drive to date. They are in such a friggen hurry to finish the job and move to the next that they scalp my grass and damage my asphault. Me? I have more time than they do.

    Thanks. Seems to make sense to do it myself. No worries about the neighbors...they can break they're own backs.
  6. go plow

    go plow Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    i myself plow for a living, ive had clients buy their own plow truck before, just to get a call from them durring a storm saying that their truck doesnt start, think about it, if you get a truck thats going to just sit, will it run in a big snow storm?, plus if your only use for this truck is to plow your driveway, will it last you 20 years? NO!! what will you pay in taxes,rg,and insurance for this truck..... theres alot to think about here!!!
  7. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    Huh? Who's saying I'm getting a truck to just sit and plow? I will only have one truck and it will be multi-purpose. Not sure how that got started.
  8. go plow

    go plow Senior Member
    Messages: 322

    then if thats the case i would go for it!! i thought it was just used to plow in the winter months.
  9. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    There's really a lot to think about here, no matter which way you go. I usually say first get someone to plow for you, it's cheaper than buying a truck and plow, plus getting up and the work involved. But if you want to plow just you're own, then I'd advise getting a cheap s10 or similar 4WD that you don't need to register and insure, then put a cheap 6 ft or so plow on it and just have a junker to plow with. Having that 7 1/2 or 8 ft piece of steel hanging off that nice, new truck will have you replacing front end components sooner than you'd like.

    As far as "We're talking snow, not something that's actually complicated", that's what my neighbor thought. He had hired me last summer to plow, then before winter got here, he bought a used truck that came with a plow. He thought he was pretty smart saving the cost of me plowing, till the first snow. He got the truck stuck sideways in the driveway, so nobody could get in or out. He came looking for me to help him, but I was out plowing others so they could get out. So he had to keep looking for a neighbor to help him out. He was late getting to work, plus his wife was late getting out.

    You say the guys who have been plowing scalp the grass and don't get you plowed in time. Then I'd say you're hiring guys who don't know how to plow and you need to learn how to determine expertise before hiring them. I arrange my route by when people need to leave for work or whatever. I also put out markers for driveway edges and hazards. The general rule for lawn damage is if you do any damage, repair it in the Spring. If you survey the area and mark it in the Fall, there should be no or very little damage. Displacing gravel is generally unavoidable, but can be minimized.

    One word of caution. With a used plow, make sure you get all the components you need to attach it to your specific truck plus any wiring-related components. Mounting hardware can be very expensive and getting it attached to the truck can be several hundred dollars. Depending on repairs, that "good deal" can cost more than a new plow. If you don't know what you're doing, you'd be wise to stay away from used.
  10. dirt digger

    dirt digger Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    an '06 F-150 and only plowing your own drive?...go for it. You can buy a light duty plow for around $2000 and it will last you the next 3 trucks if you are only pushing a few times a year. If the guys you had plow for you are unreliable then that $2000 pays for itself in one season, not to mention the $750 a year your saving
  11. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    Thanks DD for the constructive comment. What would you recommend for $2k in the light duty range?
  12. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    Absolutely. Some people should not be driving a car let alone adding the plow to it. Fortunately, there are people who can drive just as good as you with a plow. I have no worries in my own capabilities with a plow on my truck. Weird how some of you think plowing is the hardest thing to do in the world and it should be left to the 'professionals'. My dad and 16 year old brother worked a plow and figured it out quickly. My bro says it's very easy. Are you worried about losing work or something to people doing it themselves? I'm still chuckling at the insurance comment above by NJ Plowman.
  13. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    The insurance is not for repairing scalped grass, it''t for when you lose control and hit the neighbor's house putting the blade through the garage door, or slide down his driveway into his stone wall. Some insurance companies will require you to have the truck registered as a commercial vehicle and have commercial insurance coverage if you plow more than your own personal property, if you are involved in an accident while plowing someone elses property without said insurance you could be without insurance coverage for the accident and even hve your policy cancelled.

    You Do need to find a better plow guy, we all hit grass here and there, but unless a customer insists on installing their own markers for me it's a rarity.

    You can remount a plow onm many vehicles, but it depends on the individual vehicles- a plow from a 1994 dodge will fit a 1999 Dodge, but a 1999 Dodge plow will Not necessariy fit a newer truck (for example). If you buy a better brand of plow, like a Fisher, Western, Meyer, etc (who also makes commercial plows) you will likely have more fitment options in the future as opposed to a Northern or a Snobear which may not. There's the price versus weight comparisons too.

    The thing is chooseing your plow guy (my customers are always open before they need to leave for work at least one pass unless I have problems like unplowed city streets, SOE Issued, etc) Also decide if you want to get up get dressed and leave for work or get up early, get dressed, plow out the drive then go to work and REplow when you come home from the additional snow. Keeping in mind the more snow the harder work it is and more complicated it gets especially for a light duty (1/2 ton) truck and home plow.

    You're paying for the convience too, which seems lacking in your current contractors.
  14. norrod

    norrod Senior Member
    Messages: 113


    You shouldn't have any problem doing it yourself. There are many plowers that will fight to deter you away from DIY, I say go for it !

    I'm a Western user, but you won't find new for 2K

    Curtis makes a nice light duty rig, I do not know what they run. You might find a used rig after this season that's in good shape.

    Look for a local plow dealer and just go chat with them.

    But what the others say about plowing other peoples stuff changes everything. You are no longer a DIY guy. You are now a sleep deprieved, coffee sucking, plower, weatherman, mechanic, paying gobbs of money for insurance, spare parts, fuel, coffee and 7-11 fruit pies.

    So do not drop the plow on any property other then your own without proper insurance.

    So go for it, no reason why we get the have all the fun !
  15. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Justme, Mick, NJ Olpwman and the rest are giving you a good look at both sides of the coin. Some say go for it & some hire a service.

    Is the $750 for unlimited snow removal for whole season?
    It sounds like your drive is large, how long and wide is it?
    The seasonal price of $750 is cheep.(i'm sure the price will increase too, over the years.)
    If you get a plow truck you will spend over the $15,000 in the next 20 years too, ie; cost of the rig, plow, maintenance, insurance, liability insurance. ect,ect(are you mechanically inclined?)

    Like others have pointed out do you like to get up early, before you go to work? You will have to go out and get the old plow truck started in fowl weather. you'll go plow your drive and the neighbors before you go to work?

    Your right it is not hard to plow, but it does take a year or two to get proficient at it.

    It sounds like if you can afford your dream house, you can afford a service. But it also sounds like you want a plow truck to play in the snow with. (not that there is any thing wrong with that.)
    You live in MN, so finding a good plow truck should be easy, as everyone and there brother in law has 2 of them.. lol
    Your still young right? You have a large yard? A truck with a plow maybe the right thing for you.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2006
  16. Yaz

    Yaz PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,061

    It's more than the plow guy that shows late and charges 750.00. I can see it and so can others. You just want a plow to 1) Do it yourself 2) Not depend on someone else. 3) you always wanted to do it as a kid.

    Just do It. Be careful and have fun. You find it's a ball at first then it will become work... enjoy it while it lasts.
  17. mmwb

    mmwb Senior Member
    from wyoming
    Messages: 114

    Hard to say how it would come out in the end financially, and you have to figure the time you put into plowing, maintenance, and fuel as well. Sometimes it isn't just about the money. Self sufficiency, knowing you can get it done when you want it done... all factors. I've a fairly decent sized drive and have shoveled, blowed, hired it plowed and plowed it myself. For me getting the plow and doing it myself has been the best way....but then I picked up a couple of commericial lots this first season to pay for the thing. Now the plow and salter are paid for and I can continue to do a little on the side and my own, or just do my own.
  18. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    I've never been involved in a thread this hit or miss before.

    1. I didn't state that I was going into the plow business. Just in passing said I may plow a neighbors drive. Followed that up with a no, I'll just do my own.

    2. The insurance funny was from NJ Plowman saying that if I am going to plow myself, why not get into the insurance business too since I pay that. By the way, still laughing.

    3. I'm not getting a separate truck to do this.

    So please...no more doing this for a living talk? Thanks.

    Most of you are right on the money and Yaz may be right on. I might also add that I live on a lake and have wished I had a plow to shovel rinks for my kids rather than spending an hour shoveling one. Just a little added kicker.

    I am a DIY. My hobby is restoring old Mustangs. So I weld a lot, sandblast, paint, rebuild motors, you name it. I like to do it myself. I also like to do it cheap. I'm in business for myself and my wife stays home with the kids so I can afford a little extra time in the morning or whenever plowing. I just don't like to go overboard buying a plow. My drive is probably 350 feet long by 12 feet and snakes up a bit of a hill. But the drive in front of my 3 car garage (where it ends) is much wider for about 80 feet. I also have a turnaround area. I've watched my plow guys do it for years and know I could do it better. They are in too much of a hurry to plow and leave.

    I want a plow with controls in the cab. It wouldn't work for me to monkey around with the plow manually. I'll keep my eyes open for something used or new this spring and summer.
  19. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    ??? This is your 6th post what others are you talking about?(that are hit or miss?)
    I don't think you would have gotten the same answers you did if you had posted this info in your first post as it answers a lot of variables involved in your Q.
    Still $750 for your drive is cheep. You have answered your own"Q". Other than what size truck and what plow do you want.
    Are you trying to come up with reasons to get a truck to justify the purchase to your wife?lol
    If you want a truck get one, get a good plow and it will last for 20yr.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2006
  20. mark24

    mark24 Member
    Messages: 35

    Good thought on the wife question. But no, she is behind this idea as well.

    Reread the thread and follow it chronologically and you'll see what I'm saying.