Updated date:

Snow removal pricing. How do you price snow plowing rates... per snow, per inch of snow fall, per square foot?


How do you price snow plowing

I have plowed snow off and on for the past, well, for a good many years, and learned a few things about it along the way....

The individual asking the question asked about pricing...per snow, per inch of snow, per square foot, and the answer to these choices is,well, yes. You figure out a base snowfall (which might vary for each property manager) and when that much snow has fallen, you have an agreed "go ahead". Some property managers will always want to "authorize" each snowfall. (This is much easier in the era of cell phones :)

Besides the depth of the snow, there is the size of the lot to consider (square foot) When I started in New Jersey many years ago, I figured (in my head) a hundred dollars an hour for the plowing, so if a lot took half an hour, I would charge $50.00.on the other hand, I wouldn't drop the blade for less than $35.00. This may be harder to do now than it was 25 years ago, because there are so many more 4 wheel drive trucks out and about with plows on the front of them, but you are going to clobber curbs during the night and get caught by manhole covers that aren't set right and you need to make enough to cover the wear and tear on your truck, plus the actual welding repairs that have to be done now and again (sometimes by getting the welder out of bed at 2:00 am).

There are several common ways to structure plowing agreements. If you are lucky enough to land a couple of commercial parking lots, the property managers will sometimes give you a "contract" based on an anticipated amount of snowfall, say, for XX dollars you plow the lot each time there is 3 inches or more of snow, for up to 5 snowfalls. If you are astute, you will have a clause that calls for additional payment if you have more than a 10 inch snowfall, and yet more if you have a 15 inch snowfall, and so on. You need to build in protection for yourself in the event of a major blizzard, to be sure you are not on the hook for trucking snow off site to another dumping area because the piles start taking up too many parking spaces.

If you are doing parking lots you probably need to invest in a sander as well, because many property managers want to keep their lots in good shape. Some property managers want absolutely no slip and fall risk, and will OK plowing a 2"-3" snowfall, with sanding afterward, others will want you to absolutely wait until the snow has stopped so you only plow once and they won't care if traffic in and out has compressed the snow into potential ice tracks. You can also sometimes make money by taking care of the sidewalks in a business complex, but you need to be able to transport a snowblower around, and you need a helper to run the snow blower while you plow the lot. You don't want to park your truck to and have it sit while you do the walks as the truck is not earning money when parked.

I used to have a mixture of retail parking lots, a couple of office building lots and a couple of apartment buildings that I took care of. The Dairy Mart wanted to be done by 5:30 a.m., but Wendy's didn't care as long they were cleared by 11:00 a.m. when they used to open. The office lots wanted to be done by 9 a.m. and the apartment owners usually wanted me to Wait until it absolutely stopped, but they usually wanted me to swing by and clean out the driveways to the street, where the town plows had dropped big piles of compacted snow.

I plowed like this for a few years when I was in my twenties and thought it was fun. I remember leaving my house at 5 a.m. on February 5th, 1978 and not getting home until Thursday morning, and that was my experience of the great Blizzard of 1978.

Businesses have a stake in cleared parking lots, as customers can't come to them and spend money if they can't park, so they are usually good about paying their bills and honoring contracts. Unless you are in an intensely snowy area of the country, though, most homeowners don't think about plowing until they can't get their car out, or it is too big a snowfall for them to shovel. Driving around a residential subdivision with a sharp eye peeled can be a good way to drum up business, or additional business if you have time after your regular clients.

When neighborly plowing ends and business begins

  • Plowing snow, when neighborly ends and business begins....
    Hub reader had been doing neighborly clean up plowing after loggers cleared their road each winter.The loggers are gone and neighbors don't want to pay them to take on the responsibility of keeping the road open as "they plow for themselves anyway"

I've got this four wheel drive truck...


Kevin on December 23, 2013:

What's going rate for commercial properties in Bergen County NJ

Bergen County/North New Jersey is a very expensive area.

We're having difficulty price work out. it seems like everybody's all over the place with pricing.

#1 what's the best way to charge? per push? per parking spot? Salt charge? Sq' of sidewalks?


sizes, amount of parking spaces and sidewalks

Troy on December 15, 2013:

Does five dollars in additional inch after the first 4 inches seem reasonable

Brad on December 04, 2013:

Very helpful thanks for all ur thoughts and input I'm starting a small snow removal business this year 13-14 winter and could use all tips and suggestions anyone has thanks I'm in central jersey :) thanks again everyone

Brent on September 10, 2013:

Good advice I have a small engine repair service and also plow in the winter but never really thought to much about large areas till last year. So in general about the same rate that I charge per hour in my small engine business I should charge plowing then doing parking lots. Or is it easier just to quote for the parking lot?

Alejandro JUrado on December 04, 2012:

Al ex I have bilden they whant to no ha much cost for 3 inches down

maxie on August 16, 2012:

It depends on where you live as it differs by state and region therein...a standard city size driveway with that much snow should cost you about $20 to have it plowed out, a little bit more if somebody is scooping or using a snow thrower.

Snow Plowing- http://www.theroadcleaners.com/snow_plowing_saltin...

julio on December 13, 2011:

Hi im going to star my own bussiness of snow removal this winter coming.i actually work for a commercial building doing maitenance and more,but the reason is that i got a job for snow removal on my own and i would like to knowif you can give me an idea how to give an estimate,the place is pretty big is a clear parking lot which total measurements is 21.000 sq ft...i will aprecciated your help, very truly thank you.

talkaboutitent on November 05, 2011:

im in brooklyn n.y i trying to start my own snow removal business. what do i need to start with. and whit shud i charge for store fronts . and also what should i charge for residential home fronts

Plower1 on September 26, 2011:

Thanks for your advises. I found them very helpfuul

Bob on September 23, 2011:

I bought a Gator was looking to put a plow on it what would be a good rate?

f on August 16, 2011:

Up here they even want to tax snow removal ...

Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on August 05, 2011:

Nice to know there is a science behind it.. I thought they normally hiked up the rates based on how nice the neighborhood is lol. just kidding of course. All this talk about snow is reminding me that summer is almost over :( I would be interested to see how these rates change as you go south. It seams like some areas completely shut down for an inch of snow while others conduct business as usual with a couple feet on the ground.

Scott Steinbauer on July 23, 2011:

Good Morning,

I have a great opportunity to pick 15 additional commercial properties for the upcoming snow & ice season and beyond. My question is how do I price the salting and deicing? and what would be a fair side walk crew hourly rate for this many properties. Deicier is only being used on main entrances and main walks.



Jack on May 12, 2011:

How much would you charge to plow a 600 sqft office lot for a season say three times a week?

SnowedIn on February 03, 2011:

So it sounds like $75 for removing 8-12 inches of snow from a 3 car garage driveway isn't a bad deal?

MilwaukeeNate on January 13, 2011:

Im in the process of starting a very small snow removal services for the winter for mostly friends of family members doing only residents, and maybe a church. what equiptment do you suggest I buy for these jobs and how much should I charge?

poorfarmer on December 09, 2010:

Thanks for the information. That sounds reasonable to me if I don't get complaints for blocking in peoples driveways when I pass.lol.What do you do at peoples driveway entrances? or parked cars on side of streets?

jonsailr (author) from Scituate, MA on December 08, 2010:

Around here (Greater Boston area) a piece of equipment like that earns between $45 and $85. dollars per hour for street work. You start when there is about 3 inches down and you're finished when all the streets in your charge are plowed back to the curbs. i.e. some snowfalls you have to keep plowing for 8-20 hours straight, in a continuous loop, just to keep a lane and half open and when it stops you can do the fine clean up.

poorfarmer on December 08, 2010:

I've only plowed my lots & a stretch of the co.road I live on & now the small town I live in wants me to plow 5.2 miles of streets.I have a loader tractor with a snowplow on front & grader blade on rear. What should I charge? I do have ins. I don't do this for a living,but would like to be compisated fairly. What's your suggestion?

Brian B. on November 24, 2010:

I completely agree with jonsailr about this subject. 250.00 is not really that much. Just plow what you have too just to get into your drive and keep it simple. If I was to charge to plow 7 miles of dirt / Gravel road you figure I charge by the parking spot...

If each parking spot is 10 feet long by 6 foot wide well you get my drift. My least charge would be at least 150.00 Per Mile which is fairly cheap compaired to the wear and tear my plow would endure... Your neighbors will soon come to realize that they will need you in the winter time and will more than likely give you a call when they have 3 foot snow drifts to go through.

jonsailr (author) from Scituate, MA on November 22, 2010:

Well, Chrystal White, a time honored method in America of drawing attention to a problem is to strike. I would recommend, that if your neighbors place NO value on your keeping the road open, don't do it. Just use your 4 wheel drive to get to work, don't drop the blade, of if you feel you have others in "your" household that need a clear road, don't clear past your own driveway. Keeping 7 miles of road open is a different proposition that doing a little neighborly "clean up" on driveway entrances when the main road is plowed.

Plows cost money and plowing beats up a truck much faster than simply driving it around. They may see a 10 or 15 year old plow truck and not value it, but if the engine siezes, you're looking at 3-5 thousand dollars to replace it used, if you're lucky, and upwards of what, 25-30 thousand if you have to buy new.

Also, you may incur some responsibility, legally, for keeping the road open once you become the only relied on source for plowing. Suppose your truck calls it quits one night when you get a 2 foot snowfall, and an ambulance can't get up the road? If someone loses their life cause a road wasn't open, people stop being neighborly and start thinking about lawsuits in this country. And don't say, no, no, that would "never" happen. It can, and has.

If you can't get the town you live in to take responsibility for plowing the street (does "dirt road" equal "private way" in your town or county?) You might want to get written estimates from some major plowing contractors in your area, and I'll bet that the value of keeping open 7 to 10 miles of road open in all snowfalls is a good bit more than $250.00 per snowfall, but I'm guessing here, as you haven't told me where in the country you are.

crystal white on November 21, 2010:

My husband and i live up a dirt road that is 7 miles long

we are one of the first properties on the road with all of our beighbors living above us. For years the loggers plowed the road and we only helped out here and there when needed we never charged but when gas money was offered we accepted. This year there are no loggers so we have to keep the road open so i can go to work,here's the problem, There are about 6 people who use the road but refuse to pay for plowing. Our truck is old and about to break down plus no one else has a plow we figured that the job for 10 miles was worth about 250.00 per plow which comes out to a little less than 50.00 per person.

Everyone seems to think that is too expensive can i have you opinion. also we make less than anyone one elsed on and find it to be very rude. we are in northern Montana and it snows alot

Brian B. from Lake County IL on October 27, 2010:

"Nick" this ones for you bud, I charge anywhere from 3-5 dollars a parking space. You could charge them 3.00 per space to plow the an extra 2.00 a space for salt. that adds up to 5.00 a parking space and then you times that by how many spaces it has and that's your number. You figure each space is 6foot wide and 10 feet long. then do your math. Pretty simple. And what ever that magic number is you take that number by how many inches the owner wants you to come out and swipe it for and you could make a great year.

Brian on October 27, 2010:

Hello, I own B&B Snow Plowing out of Lake County IL and im mainly looking at Residential Snow Plowing. Most of the major companies already have most of the big companies like walmart, target ect. I Price my driveways as 2 cars wide, 3 cars long which includes Salting the sidewalks also, My helper shoveling the sidewalks. And the total of that is $40.00 every time I come out.

Also, I have given the option to the cliet if they refer 4 other friends or family who receive my services through out the whole year the client will have there driveway done for free. A little incentive on my end to receive more bisness.

jonsailr (author) from Scituate, MA on October 27, 2010:

Hey "Nick" I've described the parameters for figuring out a price. I'm not going to do the math for you

nick on October 27, 2010:

How much for a year contract of the following? 1.5 acres of plowable parking lot no curbs or islans really nice and wide open, clear fire lane around building(one pass, clear area for loading dock access for tractors, shovel fire exits and entrances. Salt and Sand mix the lot.

Dianemae on October 05, 2010:

Just thinking about the upcoming snow season is exciting. I love shoveling snow..no one bothers me, the quite of the early morning and the beauty of the white fluff. And of course good money for you. Here's to snow.

jonsailr (author) from Scituate, MA on October 03, 2010:

How long it takes to plow a driveway depends on the length and shape of the drive, and where you have to push the snow to. A full size pickup truck and plow is about 25 feet long, and you have to have room to maneuver, so you have to take that into account when trying to figure out how long a job will take. Per "push" or snowfall, is an ideal situation for the plowman, if you get a lot of storms.

Clark Renovations on October 02, 2010:

I've got a request to quote a residential area that consists of 12 properties in a row. I live in London Ontario, Canada. We get dumped on every year. I do renovations and charge $25-$30 per hour. Do you figure it would take about an hour per house to plow? They want a quote for "per push" and "per season". Any suggestions? I would like to secure a contract per push. Good money around here. We're in the "snow belt" of South western Ontario.

Nick on August 09, 2010:

How much would I charge for a season-long contract for an average sized residential driveway? When I would come plow every time there was at least 2 in. of snow on the ground. I was thinking around $200?

jonsailr (author) from Scituate, MA on July 06, 2010:

There are too many unknowns in your question. Is it 1.5 acres with no islands and car stops? or is it a series of broken up spaces? If it is one big opening you can start in the middle and throw snow to the side until it is too heavy to push sideways, then you have to do it blade width by blade width pushing your gathered windrow to the sides. If it is broken up by plantings and islands etc. you need to allow for the fact you are actually doing a bunch of smaller spaces with more curbing to strike and break your plow with unless you really plant a lot of stakes in the fall and can identify where all, the curbing is. It still comes down to time spent pushing snow, and that depends on the size of your truck and blade, if it straight or an articulated blade with the potential to form a scoop, and how practiced you are at efficient use of your time, which comes with practice.

alex on June 19, 2010:

how much would you charge to do say a 1.5 acre lot?

bob on February 05, 2010:

i luv to shovel it is a great to make money i have already made like 200 dollars each time it is good money

ciidoctor on December 04, 2009:

good hub