811 one call excavation locating service

I just had an idea while trying to figure out all the utility providers at the property. There’s a nationwide utility locating service, 811 “one call” will locate/contact every provider in the area and also email you a list of the utility owners at the property. I see a few benefits of calling 811,

1. All utilities are marked with spray paint and flagged for potential buyers to see.

2. You don’t have to hunt for utility owners or wonder what the power, cable or gas company provider is.

3. Helps with due diligence, you could find a potential easement you didn’t know about or utility conflict on the property.

4. If you plan to clear trees, install culverts or excavate you’ll be covered.

5 You could request photos of the paint marks and flag. (Free photos)

I know it’s possible this could be considered unethical to use this service if you're not planning on excavating yourself. Whoever buys the lot will need to call 811 legally before they excavate. By calling 811 you help yourself and the end-user. Hope this helps…

@Ascheurer, I like the idea. Also, in the states that I'm familiar with the 811 / One-Call utility marking service, they generally perform the marking within 3 business days or so, so it's pretty fast.

I know in several cases that state/municipal-owned utilities don't participate in the 811 programs in their own states, so that's just something to keep in mind before representing to others, or digging yourself, under the assumption that truly all utilities have necessarily been marked. For example, if the city/county doesn't participate in 811, but they do have water and/or sewer available at the property, you probably wouldn't get that info just by calling in an 811 locate.

Also, I know that the contractors who are dispatched to do the locating/marking often need somewhat specific instructions, limited to a reasonably-sized area, such as, "Please mark all utilities within a 300 ft radius of GPS coords xx.xxxx, -yy.yyyy," but they wouldn't necessarily comply with a request like, "Please mark all utilities present on [insert reference to 15 acre parcel here]." If it's a relatively smaller parcel, though, and you structured the locate request properly, I could definitely see getting some type of response. Although, if there's nothing present at all within the area requested, they'll probably just confirm that based on plans on record and will respond that there are no conflicts (which like you pointed out, might be helpful on it's own), but obviously won't go out to take pictures of what's not there.


That’s a pretty brilliant idea @Ascheurer and great additional insights @dl7573! I might have to try this on one of mine to see how effective it is at uncovering the utilities.


That's an awesome Idea! Will incorporate in to the DD tool set. Thank you guys!

I would like to add one more thing to consider, and this is someone who has worked construction for over 35 years. After you paint out the area that you would like the utility location services to mark out, and all of the utility companies have painted locations, TAKE PICTURES. I am not kidding, TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES. If you excavate, and you hit a datacom line, or a water line, or any utility line and it was mismarked, or not marked out at all, THEY CAN'T BACKCHARGE you for the repair. This is more common than you think, especially in rural areas where utility information does not always transfer from the old system to the new drawing or new data reporting system. Please protect yourself with photos - they have saved me more than once.


@TowerProperty good call. I can see how this would save you in some cases.

We utilize this practice in new construction, even before clients have purchased land. As a general contractor, we can call in locates whenever we like. I'm not sure what the rules are for the general public calling in locates on property they don't own, but I do know that the 811 system errs towards encouraging people to call in locates.

When evaluating property for purchase, this is an excellent way to know what utilities come to the property and how far they are they are from the desired homes site. This helps in evaluating costs and home siting logistics. When it comes to sewers, this has been very helpful in determining if there is sewer stubbed on to the property or where the sewer line is located to determine costs for hot taps. We've also used this to identify legacy power lines without easement, as well as not easily identified storm water systems.

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