This time of year can often be trying for those attempting to balance their work and home lives after a busy and exhausting holiday season.
But as the winter drags on, so do those inevitable and pesky seasonal conditions, adding more stress and yet another perpetual item on the “to-do” list here in the Great Northeast.
We’re talking snow, ice and everything else in between.
Over the years I have found that people are much more likely to hire someone to mow and maintain their lawns, which consists of three-quarters of the average season, but hesitate to contract for professional snow removal for those short three remaining months.
I am speaking strictly residential housing and home owners here because businesses and local industry nearly always contract out or perform these services “in-house,” allowing customers easy access to their goods or services during inclement weather.
As for the average homeowner, the choice comes down to much of what we base many of our daily decisions on: cost.
Now many people simply do this themselves or do what they do during the summer mowing season by having a neighbor, family member, or local young entrepreneur shovel them out after a large snow event.
However, this situation may not be ideal because they will not always be available when you need their services or reliability can often be spotty at best. Additionally, people can be skeptical of snow removal services, especially after such a mild winter last year. The winters in New York can be wildly erratic and many customers don’t want to be locked into a seasonal contract if we only see significant snowfall once or twice in a year.
After all, unlike snow, the grass continues to grow (with the exception of last July when it didn’t rain for nearly six weeks!).
Finding out what works best for you and your budget is often the first best step. Whether you are looking for snow removal on a “per event” basis or a seasonal contract, both situations have their pros and cons. Nevertheless, both also offer peace of mind, convenience and added security when hiring a reputable company or contractor.
Contrary to popular belief, the cost is often on par with regular seasonal maintenance you already have done at your home or business.
Having a fully insured professional with a trained staff reduces much of the stress associated with the winter season and many companies, like we do here at Parkview Landscaping, offer a variety of options and prices when it comes to snow removal. We all tighten our belts after the holiday season, but purchasing a contract in advance when rates are low or working with your contractor on payment plans can go a long way to keeping yourself, your vehicle, and your property safe.
These options can include designated areas such as driveways, walkways, patios, stairs, porches, decks and sidewalks and can include not only the addition of salting and sanding, but the added benefit of experience to use the proper chemicals that are environmentally safe, will not damage your property, and are pet friendly.
Many municipalities around the area now require property owners to clear the sidewalks and walkways around their properties and will even levy tickets and fines for failing to remove excessive snow that can endanger pedestrians.
Although many landlords place clauses in their lease that require tenants to maintain sidewalks, the public works department will send the citations to the property owner and you will be held responsible for any associated costs. Along with sending fines, municipalities like the city of Albany and surrounding towns, will often clear the areas themselves after a warning and will send you an invoice.
Such bills can sometimes be hundreds of dollars for a single event.
Property owners often make decisions based on cost, but rarely think about the important safety aspect of such choices. According to the National Weather Service, roughly 20 percent of all winter weather-related injuries occur at the home and put the elderly particularly at risk.
You do not want to be held liable for an injury on your property!
Not only do injuries occur as a direct result of ice or snowy conditions, but those with medical conditions or other health issues need to quickly leave their homes. If long driveways or walkways are covered with thick snow or are icy, it can drastically impact response time and impede emergency workers.
Don’t merely view your winter maintenance services as another additional cost, but as a way of protecting yourself and your investment by having reliable contractors who will safely remove snow and ice off of your property. Professional care also helps to maintain and protect your stone and cement walkways that you have spent good money on installing.
Some companies offer year-round service and some do not. However, if you are already comfortable with a company or contractor who has worked at your home then I’m sure he or she would be more then happy to make a solid recommendation or referral if they do not offer the services themselves.
Many homeowners also do not realize the potential for writing off these services on their personal income taxes each year. Parkview works with a great number of property owners here in the Capital District that live throughout New York, New Jersey, New England and even Canada.
They get to write off snow removal and property maintenance service fees that they provide for their tenants. However, you don’t have to be an “absentee land lord” to reap their financial benefits.
Many home owners have tenants that live in their two and three-family properties and are also allowed to take advantage of the tax incentives offered for certain maintenance. So if you live in a home and have tenants paying rent, then hiring someone not only saves you time but will also save you money.
We, like many others, offer year-end invoice receipts that outline the cost and scope of services performed at your home so that you may include it as a tax write-off the following year.
Often the write offs are equivalent to the cost of the services, meaning that in the end, you’re really not paying anything out-of-pocket that won’t be coming back your way.
So, when it comes to snow removal — save your back and save a buck by giving one of your local home maintenance companies a call (like, for example: Parkview Landscaping and Home Improvement) and make your winter season less stressful and more safe!
Tags: Capital District, commerical, driveways, falls, ice, injury, land lords, landlord, New England, patios, pet friendly, plowing, property owners, residential, safety, shoveling, slips, Snow, Snow Plowing, snow removal, tax write off, tenants, vehicle, walkways, winter, winter damage, winter weather