Make sure you call your utility markouts!

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by shovelracer, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    Well today was a first for me. Ive been excavating (as part of the landscape jobs we do) for 15yrs, and 8 years on my own. Today with one solid swipe I managed to wipe out all the electrical based utilities of the house we were working for today. Also managed in the process to knock out the transformer for the street. Got some nasty looks from neighbors this afternoon. We did as always though call for markouts, and were cleared as of this morning. Turns out someone messed up and the wrong house got marked. One of the companies tried blaming us, and then the tech tried flagging it post damage, so I took some pics of the guy to go with my pics of the unmarked damage. When I got back I made sure to file away my printouts of the marking notification with the shady company right on top.

    So my point is that every one should call in their markouts every time. This was a backyard job and utilities are almost never in the back around here. Could have very easily turned into a very expensive day. It takes 5 minutes to do it right, and doesn't cost anything. Call before you dig for your own sake. Not to mention your customers.
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,622

    Almost 2 years ago we had a job where the utility locating guy mis-marked the power line about 20-feet!

    The cable and phone got wiped out. And I missed the power line by an inch.

    Last week I called MD's Miss Utility to have lines marked for a new home not on the map and not on GPS. They wanted not just driving directions (turn left here, turn left there), but they also wanted distances for the directions! As in go 1 mile, then go 108 yds. I don't know the freaking distances. They refused to process my request. And they told me
    If I dig without a ticket, I could be fined. Well, the attorney in me plans to review the MD law, as I bet it does not state ANYTHING about the excavator being responsible for providing precise driving directions with distances.

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  3. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,742

    If you are referring to Utiliquest that handles most marking in DC area, they are easy to get along with. Why not just meet them at a cross road and show them where you are working?
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    We can supply Lat and Long as an option. I am going to start logging that info from now on. There will not be a direct cost to me for today, but we still lost time, and I do not need added stress. We ran into the directions thing before when the new street was not listed. They pulled up the area on a satellite mapping program and I was able to get there because of the unique geographic location.
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,622

    that would be fine and dandy if all I was doing was sittin 'round twitteling my thumbs!

    The problem isnt with Utiliquest finding the place. It's the women at Miss Utility that process the ticket.

  6. tm14930

    tm14930 LawnSite Member
    from nj
    Messages: 34

    The problem with 'Miss Utility', is that she is a dispatcher for a number of different markout/locator companies, and agencies. She is programmed to get as precise information as she can about the markout, and you reconize that. But if you err on any of that info, it would serve as another nail in the coffin. Because it wasn't called in correctly, it wasn't marked correctly. Than of course, if you hit it without having a m/o not only will you get the repair bill, but you can also be setting yourself up for a hefty fine!
  7. stuvecorp

    stuvecorp LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,245

    I've had many an epic argument with Diggers here, their maps suck and it isn't getting better.

    If I can find the house from the address so can everyone else...
  8. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 901

    Good story. I always call for markouts in the front and side yards, but sometimes don't if we are digging in the back and I don't see any evidence of possible utilities.
  9. LoweJ82

    LoweJ82 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    after years of directional boring hitting things was almost normal, the locators was so busy they just flew through and miss marked half the stuff, Ive seen some crazy things utilities have done big power lines at 6" water at 20" I learned back then and to this day dont even stick a shovel in the ground w/o calling and getting a dig#
  10. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,131

    We always call as we learnt on a job when the gas line ran where you would never imagine and then was barly a foot deep because the lawn hd been compleatly regraded since the original construction. Luckily another contractor was digging the trench and not us, and when the line was hit there wasn't a big BOOM.

    But the thing I don't understand is, you said they marked the wrong property. Did you not notice that the property you were working at wasn't marked? Is it different there than it is in MA. We use dig safe up here and if you call to have them mark in the rear they will also mark the front aswell. It's more of a pain in the ***, if utilities go under a patio it isn't uncommon for them to mark right across the stone. Next thing you know you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the patio o remove the paint before the homeowner sees it

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