Property Management

What is the best way to clear snow from my chalet?

Every winter, the Alps receive an average of more than five metres of snow.

While this is a dream come true for winter sports fans, it also represents a major challenge for rental chalet owners.

Are you responsible for clearing snow from your chalet and the surrounding area? How often should you clear it? How should you clear the snow? And last but not least, what method of snow clearance should you choose to ensure that you remove the snow efficiently and without spending too much?

In this article, we answer these questions and discuss the different methods of snow clearance, from the most economical to the most effective.

A person using a snow shovel
Clearing snow from around your chalet in winter means a safer environment for your guests. ©Canva

Why should you clear the snow in winter?

Increased safety

Clearing snow from around your chalet in winter means a safer environment for your guests.

First and foremost, paths and steps that are cleared of snow and ice guarantee a stable walking surface. This reduces the risk of dangerous slips.

Secondly, in the event of an emergency, medical services or the fire brigade have easier access to the chalet. This can make all the difference in the event of an accident.

Finally, in addition to the safety of tenants, clearing snow helps to preserve a property. It prevents material damage caused by ice and snow, which can lead to major costs (collapsed roofs, frozen pipes). It also helps to preserve the natural landscape and environment that often add to a chalet’s appeal.

Increased comfort and convenience

Owners who rent out their chalets on a seasonal basis need to ensure that their guests can enjoy all the comforts they expect.

A mountain village covered in deep snow
The snow helps create an authentic and unforgettable atmosphere. ©Canva

Clearing pathways and walkways stops snow piling up in front of the door or in access areas. As well as making it easier to get in and out, this contributes to the psychological well-being of tenants. They will feel safe and well looked after. This will reduce the stress associated with difficult winter conditions.

Snow clearance also allows guests easier access to outdoor facilities such as the barbecue or hot tub, which they enjoy even in winter. What’s more, an open space makes it easier for children to play in the snow.

Brand image and contractual obligations

Clearing the snow around the chalet creates a positive first impression for guests. It shows that the owners care about their comfort and safety. A positive experience not only encourages guests to return, but also to recommend the chalet to other travellers.

Most winter chalet guests are looking for a memorable experience. By taking care of the snow-clearing around the chalet, the owner helps to create an authentic and unforgettable atmosphere for their winter chalet holiday.

Pristine snow on the mountains
Winter chalet holidaymakers are looking for a memorable experience ©Canva

It’s also important to note that snow clearance around the chalet is often a contractual obligation for owners.

By complying with the terms of the rental contract and local regulations on snow clearance, the owner avoids potential disputes with tenants. It also ensures that the chalet is kept in compliance with local laws, all of which help to maintain positive relations not only with the guests but also with the surrounding community.

Which areas of my chalet should I clear of snow?

Areas requiring snow clearance

Vehicle access

  • The access road leading to the chalet must be kept clear to ensure the safety of guests when they reach their destination. The same applies to parking spaces near the chalet (main driveway, in front of the garage, etc): this is essential for the comfort of holidaymakers.
  • There should also be a snow-free unloading area near the entrance to the chalet so that tenants can unload their luggage and equipment without hindrance.
  • Finally, if the chalet has a garage or carport, this too must be accessible and easy to use. The doors must be able to be opened without forcing them. We’re thinking here in particular of snow covering the entire width of the driveway, if the doors are opened manually, or frost which can disrupt the automatic movement of a roller shutter.
A mountain village covered in snow
Certain areas around your cottage need to be cleared of snow on a regular basis. ©Canva

Access on foot

The footpaths leading up to the chalet, as well as all the entrances, must be cleared of snow so that holidaymakers can get there without complications. Steps should be given special attention, as they are particularly dangerous in winter.

If the chalet has outdoor amenities such as a jacuzzi or barbecue, make sure they are also accessible safely. You should also remember to clear snow or ice from secondary outdoor paths.

Additional areas

The full-height windows must be cleared of snow so that natural light can enter the chalet. This will create a delightfully wintry atmosphere inside. What’s more, unobstructed windows will allow tenants to take full advantage of the scenery, a must when staying in the mountains.

A bird's eye view of a mountain  village at night
Gardens and green spaces can generally remain covered in snow. ©Canva

Terraces must be cleared of snow so that guests can enjoy their meals outside if they wish. In this way, they can enjoy a sociable space, the view and invigorating fresh air. Balconies accessed from bedrooms and other private areas should be treated in the same way.

Areas that don’t need to be cleared of snow

The garden and green areas can generally remain covered in snow. This contributes to the chalet’s winter aesthetic and does not interfere with the guests’ experience.

Similarly, railings and other exterior decorative features will benefit from remaining snow-covered. This will contribute to the classic atmosphere that you want in a chalet in winter. However, periodic maintenance may be necessary to preserve them (to prolong the life of the wood they are made of, for example).

Roofs do not generally require regular snow removal, except in the event of excessive snow accumulation. Preventative measures can be taken to avoid such problems (snow blocks, etc.).

A snow track through fields
Guests will have different snow removal preferences ©Canva

Summary table

Area to keep clearHow oftenApproximate time (snow shovelling)
Access road to the chaletAt 5 to 10cm20-30 minutes per 10m length
ParkingAt 5 to 10cm15-25 minutes per parking space
Unloading areaAt 5 to 10cm10 to 15 minutes
Garage or vehicle shelterAt 5 to 10cm15-25 minutes per space (depending on size)
FootpathsAt 5 to 10cm15-25 minutes per 10m length
Main entrance to chaletAt 5 to 10cm10-15 minutes per entry door
Access to outdoor facilitiesAt 5 to 10cm10-20 minutes per access
Areas around doorsAt 5 to 10cm5-10 minutes per door
Glass doorsLess than 2 cm or when necessary5-10 minutes per window
Accessible windowsLess than 2 cm or when necessary5-10 minutes per window
Terraces 2-5 cm or when necessary15-30 minutes according to size and use
Balconies2-5 cm or when necessary10-20 minutes according to size
Gardens and green spacesNot necessaryLittle maintenance is needed in winter
RoofWhen accumulation is excessiveNeeds to be monitored, sometimes requires intervention
Railings and decorative featuresPeriodicallyLittle time is required for periodic maintenance

The time taken for each operation will depend mainly on the snow-clearing method chosen by the owners and the surface area of the property. Here, we have given the approximate time for snow clearance using a shovel, an affordable method that can be chosen by default.

In all cases, it is essential to communicate clearly with guests to understand their preferences and adapt the snow clearance plan accordingly. Some tenants may prefer to have snow cleared as soon as a thin layer of snow forms, while others may be more tolerant of – or even appreciate – moderate snow accumulation.

Trees, a wooden gate and a fence covered in snow
Some guests will appreciate the picturesque effect of snow in some areas © Canva

Which areas of the Alps require more regular snow clearance?

Clearing snow from your chalet: the natural factors


  • The higher the altitude, the greater the chance of finding plenty of snow during the winter season;
  • Example: Val Thorens, in the Alps, is a perfect example of this rule. At an altitude of 2,300 metres, this resort guarantees abundant snow cover during the winter season.
Ice and flakes of snow
The northern slopes are generally snowier because they receive less sunshine. ©Canva

The direction of the slopes

  • The north-facing slopes generally receive more snow than south-facing slopes, as they are less directly exposed to the sun;
  • Example: the north-facing slopes of La Plagne retain a greater quantity of snow over a longer period. Skiers and snowboarders particularly appreciate the northern slopes of La Plagne for the snow quality.

Local climate

  • Regions that receive heavy precipitation, in the form of rain or snow, have a higher snow potential. Lower temperatures favour the formation and preservation of snow;
  • Example: Val d’Isère, at an altitude of 1,800 metres, is a good example of this; it receives substantial amounts of precipitation during the winter season, mainly in the form of snow. At the same time, winter temperatures in Val d’Isère are generally low, particularly at night. These cold temperatures favour the formation and preservation of snow, enabling the resort to maintain a lasting snow cover throughout the season.
A view of snow summits at the end of the day
Areas exposed to prevailing winds may experience changes in snow cover. ©Canva

Exposure to wind

  • Areas exposed to prevailing winds may experience changes in snow cover due to snow redistribution. The orientation of the chalet in relation to the prevailing winds affects snow accumulation;
  • Example: Avoriaz is located on a plateau; it is exposed to winds that generally come from the northwest. Because of this, the resort receives significant snowfall, but the strong winds also redistribute the snow over the area. The chalets and buildings that are built here are often oriented to protect against this type of hazard and for protection against the wind.

Proximity to mountain ranges

  • Areas near mountain ranges tend to receive more precipitation and therefore more snow;
  • Example: the Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys are surrounded by the Alps. This creates a natural barrier to moisture-laden air masses. Precipitation is therefore contained and more frequent. As a result, there is more snow in these regions during the winter season.
Tracks in the snow
Each winter is unique and will be subject to climatic variations. ©Canva

These general rules can help to anticipate snow conditions in the Alps, but it is important to remember that each winter is unique and that climatic variations can influence the forecasts.

Snow potential in the Alps

Areas with the most snow

  • Espace Killy: this includes the resorts of Tignes and Val d’Isère. It is renowned for its exceptional snow cover, thanks in particular to its high altitude;
  • Chamonix: nestling in the Arve Valley, Chamonix generally receives heavy snowfall, making it one of the snowiest destinations in the Alps;
  • Les Trois Vallées: this ski area, which includes the resorts of Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens, is one of the snowiest in the Alps.
The Espace Killy in the shadow of the mountains
The Espace Killy has a great snow record. ©Tignes

Areas with less snow

  • Les Deux Alpes: situated at a lower altitude, this resort relies on artificial snow during periods of low snowfall;
  • The Portes du Soleil: this ski area, which includes several resorts (Morzine and Seytroux, for example), has variable snow cover depending on weather conditions;
  • The Rhône Valley: situated at a lower altitude, this resort tends to receive less natural snow in winter.
A blue and white map showing snow areas in red, yellow and green
A map showing snow distribution in the French Alps. ©AltiMag et OVO Network

Websites such as this one have live webcam images of resorts in the Alps. This gives you a real-time view of snow conditions in a given area.

Methods of snow clearance

The snow shovel: clearing snow from your chalet by hand

This method involves manually removing the snow using a snow shovel. The first step is to clear a central passage in the middle of the surface to be cleared, shovelling from the inside out.

  • Initial cost: A snow shovel typically costs between 15 and 25 euros.
  • Additional costs: The shovel may need to be replaced occasionally. Homeowners planning to hire someone to clear snow should budget for labour costs of around 10 to 20 euros per hour.
  • Time: This depends on the size of the area to be cleared. It takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour for a few square meters.
  • Physical intensity: This can be physically demanding work, especially in cold weather.
  • Efficiency: This method is suitable for small areas but can be time-consuming and exhausting for large surfaces.
  • Frequency: Snow needs to be cleared after each significant snowfall.
  • Who: Homeowners or a professional.
  • Installation: No installation is necessary; the snow shovel is ready to use.
  • Disadvantages: Physically demanding, not suitable for large areas, needs to be repeated after each snowfall, not sufficient for heavy snowfalls.
A snow shovel full of snow
Clearing snow from a chalet using a snow shovel is cost-effective but physically demanding. © Canva

Snow clearance with salt or sand

This method involves spreading salt or sand on the snowy surface. Salt helps melt the snow, while sand provides better traction. Spread salt or sand evenly on the surface to help melt the snow and ice.

  • Initial cost: Salt or sand typically costs between 5 and 10 euros per bag.
  • Additional costs: These only include the replenishment of salt or sand.
  • Time: This method is relatively quick and easy, but requires regular application depending on the weather conditions.
  • Physical intensity: No particular physical condition is required.
  • Efficiency: Salt and sand are very effective at quickly melting snow or ice.
  • Frequency: Salt or sand should be applied after each significant snowfall or when surfaces become slippery.
  • Who: Homeowners.
  • Installation: No installation is necessary; salt and sand are ready to use.
  • Disadvantages: This method requires regular application as salt and sand can be carried away by melting snow or rain. It is not suitable for large areas and may require more material for significant snowfalls.
A snowy footpath covered with sand and salt
Salt and sand are a great way to clear snow rapidly and without too much effort. ©Canva

Snow clearance using a personal snowplough

Using an individual snowplough involves driving a small vehicle equipped with a blade to clear snow. The person operating the vehicle directs the blade towards the snow and pushes it out of the area to be cleared. They then repeat the process until the area is free of snow.

  • Initial cost: The initial cost of a small individual snowplough can range from 1,000 to 5,000 euros, depending on the size and quality of the equipment.
  • Additional costs: Additional costs include fuel (5 to 10 euros per hour of use), regular maintenance of the snowplough (300 to 400 euros annually), and possibly insurance fees related to its use (500 to 1,000 euros per year), as well as some accessories for safety and potential repairs.
  • Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour to clear up to 500 square meters.
  • Efficiency: Individual snowploughs are highly effective for clearing large surfaces.
  • Frequency: It’s advisable to clear snow after each significant snowfall.
  • Who: Homeowners themselves or professionals.
  • Installation: No special installation is required to use an individual snowplough, but training is necessary to use the equipment correctly.
  • Disadvantages: The initial and operational costs are high. Training is required for proper use. Individual snowploughs are not suitable for small surfaces.
A person drives an individual snow plough away from the camera
An individual snowplough is an efficient way to clear large areas quickly. ©Canva

Ask the mairie to clear your chalet of snow

This method involves asking the local authorities to clear your property of snow. Homeowners will usually need to provide information about the property’s location and the size of the area to be cleared. Municipal employees will then take care of clearing the surroundings of the chalet.

  • Initial cost: The initial cost is usually minimal or non-existent as it is a municipal service.
  • Additional costs: Generally none.
  • Time: None, as municipal employees handle the snow removal.
  • Physical intensity: None, for the same reason as above.
  • Efficiency: This depends on the responsiveness of the municipal services and their resources. They are usually well-equipped for snow removal.
  • Frequency: Homeowners can contact municipal services after each significant snowfall or as needed.
  • Who: Municipal services.
  • Installation: None.
  • Disadvantages: The responsiveness of municipal services can vary depending on the region and the availability of their resources. There may be delays in case of heavy snowfall in the area.
A snowplough attached to the front of a small truck
Property owners can call on municipal services to clear snow from their chalet ©Canva

Heated driveways

This method involves installing a heating system beneath the surface of the drives and footpaths leading to the chalet to melt snow and ice. This system typically consists of heating cables or pipes that distribute heat.

  • Initial cost: This ranges from 50 to 150 euros per square metre, depending on the size of the area to be heated and the type of system chosen.
  • Additional costs: Additional costs include electricity to operate the system, as well as maintenance and periodic inspections.
  • Time: None, the system operates continuously, using electricity.
  • Physical intensity: None.
  • Efficiency: Very effective.
  • Frequency: The system operates continuously to prevent the accumulation of snow and ice.
  • Who: Professional installation is required.
  • Installation: The installation duration depends on the size of the area to be equipped.
  • Disadvantages: The installation cost is high, and potential repairs can also be costly. The continuous use of electricity can result in high operating expenses.
A house with a heated driveway keeping it clear of snow
Heated driveways are an efficient but expensive way to clear snow ©LaPresse.Ca

Call on a property management agency

Homeowners can include snow removal as a service in their property management contract. The agency will then be responsible for organising and overseeing snow removal as necessary.

  • Initial cost: The initial cost can vary depending on the property management agency and the services included in the contract. It can be a percentage of rental income or a fixed fee.
  • Additional costs: Additional costs may include administrative fees related to property management. There may also be maintenance costs for snow removal, which vary based on the property’s size and the frequency of snowfall.
  • Time: None, the property management agency arranges for snow removal.
  • Physical intensity: None.
  • Efficiency: Efficiency depends on the property management agency.
  • Frequency: The property management agency coordinates snow removal as needed, typically after each significant snowfall.
  • Who: The agency sends its own personnel.
  • Installation: No special installation is required by homeowners.
  • Disadvantages: The costs associated with the property management agency can reduce rental income. The quality of service depends on the chosen agency.
A red,  hand-driven snowplough
The best method of snow clearance will depend on the owner’s requirements © Canva

What is the best method of snow clearance?

The ideal snow removal method will depend on the specific priorities of the homeowners.

The most efficient method

The option of heated driveways is generally considered the most effective because it keeps the surface clear at all times and prevents the accumulation of snow and ice. However, it involves a higher initial cost and also has an ecological impact.

The most cost-effective method

Snow shovelling is generally the most cost-effective method economically as it requires minimal initial investment (an inexpensive snow shovel) and does not involve significant operational costs. However, it can be physically demanding and less convenient.

A path through a snowy forest
Calling upon a property management agency is often the most convenient option for guests. ©Canva.

The best method for guests

Calling upon the municipal services for snow removal can be the most convenient method for your guests because it requires no intervention on their part. Municipal services handle the snow removal, ensuring the safety and comfort of the tenants. However, the responsiveness of municipal services can vary depending on the region.

The same logic can be applied to property management agencies. They take care of organising snow removal and ensure that tenants have safe and clear access to the chalet during their stay. The quality of service depends on the chosen property management agency, so it’s important to select a reliable agency to ensure tenant satisfaction.

Snow removal is an essential component of property management. The cost of snow removal methods can vary significantly, so it’s crucial to consider them in the calculation of your total rental expenses.

To get assistance with this aspect of managing your property, contact OVO Network. With over 150 chalets in property management, OVO Network helps you make the most of your mountain investment.

Lastly, discover how much you can earn by renting your property for free with our rental income calculator.

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