I need more than a shovel and strong back.

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by Canada, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. Canada

    Canada Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    My wife and I recently bought two different rental properties....a pair of houses. Anyways, snow removal for them is a MUST, whereas our house has kinda been a 'if I have time' type of thing in the past.

    So I'm stuck between a plow and a snow blower....I see a couple of downsides to both....

    With the plow, I see the damage aggressive plowing can do to a vehicle first hand as I am a mechanic at the local Chevrolet dealership. I bought a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado Classic (crew cab, short box) K2500HD 6.0 a year ago (nearly to the day). I like the truck, plan on owning it for a long time and I want to keep it 'nice'.

    I also think this truck might be a bit awkward as long as it is.....I know some guys plow with crew cab long boxes, but this would mainly see in town driveway duty....*maybe* a couple of parking lots.

    It would also still leave me with the sidewalks to do by hand....the wife sure as hell isn't going to do it.

    I could also just get a snow blower (be it a walk behind or mounted to a lawn mower).......but that leaves me out in the snow and cold longer....I'm a wuss.

    Some of the guys I work with have bought and paid for snow plows in a winter with moderate amounts of snow....between my stuff and any 'custom' removal I might be able to do so as well.

    There are a TON of brands out there.....I haven't operated a single one (but growing up on a farm I think I'll learn quick). Kinda been looking at a Western Steel Pro-Plow with a back drag edge. The V plows look handy, but I think that might not be needed for my application.

    I've looked briefly at used plows on eBay and Cragslist....they all seem overpriced and worn out....I imagine the newspaper ad plows are in the same shape. It appears new is the only way to go.

    Any advice (be it related to snow removal or even to being a landlord) would be greatly appreciated.
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,313

    To be honest why go through the expense of everything.Just hire some to plow.Is it really worth your time to be at their beck and call?
  3. OP

    Canada Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Actually.....it is....the main reason I'm doing it is so I can be on the properties at times(snow removal and cutting the grass).....keeping track of things. The houses are in good neighborhoods.....but not the best. Plus, I think I might be able to make some money back between my neighbors and anything else I can scrape.
  4. Humvee27

    Humvee27 Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    Just my advice.....

    I have had good luck with western, meyer, and boss....the meyer being the one I had on one of my old trucks recently.....buy a name brand that has a lot of dealers around you....plowing is the way to go with it....a snowblower would be a "nice-to-have" addition of course....for when those sidewalks pile up....trust me... I use my atv though most of the time.....

    As far as being a landlord, I owned a duplex for a couple years.....it's worth it to get references from potential renters...when I bought the duplex I had the couple from :angry: in it...they were a pita to get rid of....they even went as far as breaking in and stealing the blinds and electrical covers from there.....make sure you have signed contracts and definetly get to know the neighbors around you, they can spot trouble way before you will....anyway, good luck with it!:waving:
  5. merrimacmill

    merrimacmill PlowSite.com Addict
    from MA
    Messages: 1,817

    I think you'll find a lot of people on here will tell you to just hire it out. But I've been in your same situation. We have 2 residential properties with 3 tenants in them in addition to our commercial building, and we don't hire that stuff out. If you were closer to me, I'd be telling you to hire a plow guy (me) to plow them. But since your half way across the country I'd say go with a plow on the truck. Once it proves itself profitable, you can buy yourself a little 1 stage snow blower that you can easily load and unload for the sidewalks.

    At our residential properties we mowed the lawns and plowed the driveways and didn't hire it out. But we found that the residential properties rental income wasn't enough to make it worth it, so we're getting them ready to sell right now. If you have any questions on the in's and outs of being a landlord feel free to send me a pm.

    As to what brand snow plow to get, I would say go with a boss. In my experience and opinion, Boss has the best engineering, mounting system, construction, and dealer support. I will never buy another brand plow. And its not the only brand that I've owned. But the one that everyone has is the best one, so you'll hear the same thing about everyone elses plows. Just look at each brand of plow and note the differences and fuiger out what one works best in your opinion. A big deal in choosing a plow is the parts availability and dealer support. So make sure to check out all your local dealers before purchasing. And a new plow is the only way to go IMO. Good luck and keep us posted!

    Oh, and welcome to plow site:waving::salute:
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  6. tvpierce

    tvpierce Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 209

    You state that these are "in town driveways". How "in town"? If we're talking 1 car wide, and 20 or 30 feet, then a snowblower is the way to go. You have much better control over where you put the snow, and more options for where you can put the snow. I see people with driveways this size who have it plowed. It makes no sense... there's just no place to put the snow. A snowblower does a much better job in situations like that. For the record, I don't own a snowblower, have never owned one, and never plan to own one.

    FYI: I have an in-town 2-unit on a tiny lot. The "driveway" -- if you can call it that -- consists of 2 parking spots... that's it. An extended cab, long bed pickup, would just barely fit. I consider these to be parking spots (as apposed to a driveway) and as such, snow removal is the responsibility of the tenants. I clearly state this in the lease, and verbally point it out to perspective tenants. If you're responsible for clearing parking spots, you'll drive yourself crazy coordinating the moving of cars.

    I'm with you on doing maintenance yourself. I like to be around too. Additionally, I collect the rent in person each month -- just one more point of contact. It also give me a chance to touch base with the tenants to see if everything is going ok. Helps me to know about things before they become too big of a problem. I think the tenants appreciate it too. In their eyes, I'm a decent person... not just the nameless landlord. It works for me... so far.

    Good luck.

  7. OP

    Canada Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks for the advice......both driveways are about 10-12' wide and 50' long......mine is two cars wide and 30' long. I think I might just end up getting a blower.

    I don't want to be a jerk landlord either........and I don't want jerk tenants either.....I can't believe the number of people that have called on the ad and have walked through the place. Some smelled like booze, others were strippers......but most seemed to be good people.
  8. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,755

    Hey....I have a spare room I will rent to a stripper....:D
    But on the other hand I am pretty sure the wife will object
    You should be able to write off whatever you decide to buy. You can use either a plow or the snowblower on other peoples places to pick up some cash. ith what little work you plan on doing it sure won't hurt the truck any.

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,126

    why are you responisible to plow there driveways?? my dad owns a few properties he rents and the tennants are responisible for snow cleanup. afterall they live there.
  10. ahoron

    ahoron Senior Member
    from here
    Messages: 421

    I would either get a plow, hire someone or have tenents do it. You have to load and unload blower and freeze your butt off blowing snow. then having tenants calling you beaching that the drive isn't clear. And renting property can be the biggest pain in the a$$ good luck.
  11. jce4isu

    jce4isu Senior Member
    Messages: 289

    what dealer do you work for if it karls they are a boss dealer
  12. Plowin in VT

    Plowin in VT Senior Member
    Messages: 233

    Here's my $0.02 as both a landlord and a plower...

    A) Plowing does not need to be part of the lease (at least up here it doesn't). It is not part of my leases, but I still plow and salt.
    B) You could always pay a tenant a couple bucks/storm to take care of it (or take it off of their rent). Make sure it's in writing that THEY are responsible for the clearing of the drive/walks.
    C) With 3 fairly small driveways, and a huge truck, you'd probably be better off w/a decent 2 stage snow blower and a set of ramps for your truck. I got a decent 2 stage blower last year at Ace hardware for $400, and it's been extremely reliable and works great.

    I had a GMC 3500 extended cab/long bed, which is pretty much the same size as your truck, and it was way too big for plowing in tight spaces. Also, you need to factor in a couple of extra feet in length to your truck once you have your plow on. Will you still be able to back out of the drive if a car is parked on the opposite side of the street, or if cars are tightly parked on either side of your drives? I now have a F250 standard cab & a long box, and even though it's not too much smaller, the turning radius is miles better.

    You will be looking at several thousand for a plow setup w/installation, or a several hundred for a 2 stage snow blower, a good set of thermals, gloves, and a hat. If I was in your position, I'd go for the second option for the first winter. If it doesn't work well, then spend the extra money and get the plow.

    Another option is to buy a small used plow truck (Jeep, Toyota, S10, etc...). They will be less expensive than a full sized one, but should do the job that you need them to.

    If you are plowing homes/apartments that you own, you will not need to get contractors insurance on yourself, but if you plow properties that are not owned by you, you will need it to cover your personal liability. Also, 99.9% of automobile insurance policies do not cover damage while plowing, so you will need to check w/your insurance company to see if you will be covered, or if you need to get a rider or a commercial policy

    Just remember, if you get plow contracts to help pay for the cost of the plow, customers will want/need to be plowed out at times that are not convenient to you. If I had a regular 9-5 job, there's no way that I could/would have plow contracts (then again, 99% of my business is commercial).

    Just my $0.02.

    Good luck,

  13. REAPER

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,217

    Before 1988 when I bought my house I rented many houses in years before that.

    Not once did a owner ever offer snow removal/plowing. And mowing the grass?

    Do you charge extra in rent for this service or just feel it is your responsibility?

    If you are not including this price in rent you are planning on taking a hit in what your income is before you even have them rented.

    Remember also that even though a few guys will tell you they bought a plow and had it paid for in one year none of them have the same situation as you do or are talking about.
    Not everyone can just hang a plow and start plowing.
    Many think they can but go look in the used car lots at the end of the season to see how many changed their minds.

    Save the money and time and just have your renters clear their own snow. For all you know one of them may not even drive.
  14. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    put in your lease that tenants are responsible for their own snow and ice removal.
    then if you want to do it sometime you can. but you dont have too. you also avoid the liability of one of them saying they fell on the ice.
    basically. put that in the lease and dont worry about it.
  15. OP

    Canada Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I work for Bob Brown Chevrolet..........we just sublet it to whatever snow plow brand they want when a plow is sold.

    I think I'm still going to clear the snow.....at least for the first winter (which won't be until next winter really).......beings that these are our first properties I want to be on them at least weekly....I don't want something I am commited to being destroyed by some punk. I'm really scared of coming upon a DESTROYED house.....I've had nightmares about this. Plus, I think tenants will take better care if it seems like we care....at least thats the way it worked for me when I rented when I was in college.

    And the work it takes really doesn't bother me......I already work three different jobs (tech, parts guy, and farmer) throughout the year and 60+ hours per week....whats more clearing snow??? :p

    As far as them slipping or falling on the ice that I would of cleared......thats why I have home owners insurance.

    Sounds like I will just stick with getting a blower.......being a tech I can install a plow myself, but its still a good deal more cash....something that is short on hand when trying to buy investment properties.

    I have thought about getting a K5 Blazer or some other soild front axle unit......but I already have 5 vechiles.

    Even though I'm most likely going to only follow half of the advice.....I do appreciate it greatly from people that have been through it themselves.
  16. Plowin in VT

    Plowin in VT Senior Member
    Messages: 233

    Bingo! The more often you are on site, the more likely you are to catch a problem while it's small.

    What's your email address? I'll send you some tips and advice from what I've run into as a landlord. I would send you a PM, but I can't until you have 10 posts.

  17. K20Fisher

    K20Fisher Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 176

    You could also use an atv because you can do the sidewalks and everything and you can do the lawn with a mower attachment.
  18. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    had a a couple wrecked apartments before. one so bad my other half cried when she saw it because she had put some time into it with me remodeling just before the newest tenant wrecked it.
    best thing i learned about being a landlord. dont take it personal. just look at dollars and cents. if it goes to eviction, or damages, whatever. minus the costs from the income and you have a number that just is what it is. count your profit and dont sweat it.
  19. Nascar24

    Nascar24 Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    well if you want my 2 cents , lol

    Buy this plow for $2300 Complete!

    Plow is in very good condition and it comes with mounts for the early 07 Chevy/ GMC 2500/3500HD, all the wiring including the DTRL module, headlamp modules, headlamp adapters,touch pad controls, and main power harness.

    I can put it on a pallet and ship it out, of course at your expense, which probably be and additional $300$-500

    if your interested call me at 508 753 6617