6 Benefits of Having a Private Utility Locating Company Near You

6 Benefits of Having a Private Utility Locating Company Near You

GIF footage of gas line explosion.
Subsurface damage isn't just costly - it can also be dangerous.

Whether you’re an excavator, general contractor, facility manager, or homeowner, locating underground utility lines on private property is essential.

Why Do I Need a Private Utility Locator?

According to Forbes Magazine, approximately 65% of all underground utility lines in the U.S. are private. That means when you do your due diligence and follow the standard dig policy of creating an 811 ticket, you will be breaking ground with less than half of the underground utility lines on your site accounted for. If you excavate without hiring a private utility locator like GPRS before you dig, serious damages could result. These damages could be as significant as service interruptions, flooding, loss of power and water, all the way to severe injuries or deaths due to electrocution and gas explosions, as shown in the video below.

GIF of utility line explosion in a city.

What is a Private Utility Locator?

To define a private utility locator, one must first understand the difference between public and private utilities. Public utilities are lines that are installed by utility companies to provide service to an area. These lines are owned and operated by the public utility company, whether they are located on public or private property. Such utilities usually include gas, power, and electric. Private utilities are those lines that extend beyond the service meters, often on to privately owned property as shown in the image below. As a result, a private utility locator is someone who’s main job priority is to locate and accurately mark out underground utility lines which extend beyond service meters or public utilities, on to privately owned property. This locating extends past the main utility meter to the structure or building that the lines are being fed to so that whoever is digging on that site can avoid damaging existing underground infrastructure on the private property.  Electrical, gas, water, sanitary and storm sewer, power, telecommunication, irrigation, steam, and other secondary and primary utilities all have private lines that could be struck when excavating, as shown in the image below.

An illustration of how to read private utility markings.
This illustration depicts the difference between public and private utilities, and how to read private utility markings.

Benefits of Private Utility Locating Companies Near You

Hiring a private utility locating service near you to accurately find and map the private utilities on site allows you to avoid risk of serious incidents like the one shown above. The benefits of utilizing a private service and even building private utility locates into your dig policy provides the following benefits to your project:

1. Save Money

Each line that is accurately located on site by a private utility locator could save you $56,000 on average, based on a recent report conducted by Finch Brands. With accurate marks outs and flags on the ground, and maps of the mark-out data uploaded into utility mapping software such as SiteMap®, your single budget item of creating accurate subsurface as-builts can continue to save you money when future maintenance, renovations, or repairs are needed.

2. Save Time

Every utility strike results in another project delay due to work stoppages, damage reports, emergency repairs, and crisis management, depending on the severity of the strike. In the recent Finch Brands report, 68% of facility managers interviewed in the study reported project downtime on their jobsites totaling 2-3 months due to damages incurred from underground utility strikes. By hiring a private utility locator on every project, these numbers could be significantly decreased.

3. Eliminate Reworks

Based on research done from the Navigant Construction Forum, the median cost of rework on the average construction projects is between 4-6% of the total cost of the project. When utility strikes occur, reworks occur too. Private utility locating services assist your excavation, design build, and pre-construction teams by giving them a detailed picture of where subsurface utility lines lie beneath the surface of your job site so that you can eliminate reworks on site and keep your project on budget.  

4. Eliminate Damages:

According to the Common Ground Alliance’s (CGA), DIRT Report, 163,726 underground utility strikes were reported in 2022. Out of those 163,726 reported strikes, 35,860 were due to no notification being made to an 811 Center for a public utility locator to mark out public lines before digging occurred. This statistic represents almost 25% of all damages reported in 2022, so it is not a leap to assume that a private utility locator was not contracted for these projects either. Because a private locator can also locate public lines. To assist in eliminating these numbers, a private utility locator could not only help verify the existing markings from a public utility locator, but also accurately mark the other 65% of underground infrastructure that is not located on public property, as stated earlier in this report.

5. Keep People Safe

Underground utility strikes are dangerous and costly events. Many, if not all, underground utility line strikes result in some type of property damage, with gas and electrical line strikes leading to serious injury or potential death. According to the CGA’s DIRT Report, over the past 20 years, utility strikes have resulted in $1.7 billion in property damage, 1,906 injuries, and 421 deaths. When public and privately utility locating companies pair up to address this issue through accurate utility locating practices and multiple forms of cutting-edge technology, serious incidents can be reduced or eliminated, and workers can go home safely to their families without fear.

6. Protect Your Reputation

Not only do underground utility strikes cause safety risks, project downtime, and reworks, they also result in the loss of reputation for the contractor on site. Depending on the situation at hand, this could be the largest blow financially to a company. Out of 110 facility managers surveyed by Finch Brands in their 2021 report, over 4% of them had been kicked off a job site due to damages from a utility strike. Loss of reputation with the owner or other parties involved can have lasting impact on relationships within the industry and result in lost business and revenue in the future. There’s no reason to tarnish a good relationship within the industry due to failure to accurately mark private utilities on site. By contacting the best private utility locating company near you, your people, your jobsite, and your reputation can remain safe.

Why GPRS? The Nation’s Largest And Best Private Utility Locating Company

Whether you need private utility locating in Washington or Florida, Alaska or New Hampshire, GPRS’ nationwide network of SIM-Certified Project Managers can accurately locate your underground utilities before you dig or excavate on your jobsite. GPRS Project Managers train with the industry’s leading repeatable methodology, SIM, which makes them experts in multiple forms of cutting-edge technology, including ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locators. SIM training allows GPRS to ensure all active and passive sweeps of your site are complete, and to provide you a comprehensive and accurate map of what’s below the surface, including depths. SIM is paired with world-class training from the state-of-the-art GPRS Academy that totals 320 hours of mentored field training and 80 hours in the classroom to ensure all GPRS Project Managers are equipped to tackle any scenarios they may encounter on your job site with a consultative approach. All data collected in the field is uploaded and securely stored within our utility mapping software, SiteMap® for your reference throughout the entirety of the project lifecycle.

All this training, technology, and methodology, gives GPRS Project Managers an industry leading 99.8+% accuracy rating on more than 500,000 jobs throughout the United States.

A worker uses an electromagnetic locator.
It's vital to accurately locate private utilities before you break ground.

When a single utility strike has the potential to devastate your project, it’s vital to accurately locate private utilities before you break ground. Ensure you partner with the best private utility locating company near you, like GPRS, to keep your project on budget, time, safe and your reputation intact by requesting a quote or scheduling a service, today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Equipment is Used in Utility Locating?


How Much Does Private Utility Locating Cost?


Can I Rent or Buy my Own Utility Locating Equipment?


What Do the Different Utility Marking Colors Mean?