ALTA/NSPS Standards Require Additional Utility Locates & Shift Responsibility

ALTA/NSPS Standards Require Additional Utility Locates & Shift Responsibility

ALTA/NSPS Standards Require Additional Utility Locates & Shift Responsibility

The last revision to the ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards went into effect in 2021. These standards replace the previous 2016 requirements and make two important changes/distinctions that are vital to land title surveyors.

Among the various changes enacted, the requirements surrounding public and private utility locates effects every job a surveyor may do. The responsibility utility locating has expanded to include private utility markings, ensuring greater safety for construction personnel. The New ALTA 2021 Standards?

The major change can be found in ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey Standards Table A item 11.

Under the previous standard, a surveyor was required to locate underground utilities. They could do so based on an 811 One Call utility locate, plans obtained from utility companies, and/or observed evidence. The old standard placed the responsibility on the surveyor.

The updated 11(a) standard puts the onus on both the survey and the client. The surveyor is required to “show evidence of underground utilities,” based on plans and/or reports provided by the client, with proof and references for the sources of the information.

Additionally, inside the item 11(b) requirements, surveyors should use a private utility locating company to have all utilities on private property marked.

If you are a surveyor, or hiring a land title surveyor, to be sure your survey meets ALTA standards, it’s important that you are aware of the following three items:

• The surveyor is not responsible for locating public and private utilities – the client is. The surveyor simply works with the provided information.

• A private utility locate is no longer optional. That means if a job is located on private property, a private utility locating company like GPRS must scan the parcel to locate all utilities, not only the public lines marked by 811 One Call.

The responsibility falls to the public utility locator and client to provide public utility locates for the surveyor, and to the client to locate their private utility lines. Alternatively, the surveyor can have the private utility lines scanned and provide the results to the client.

IMPORTANT: ALTA survey requirements no longer accept 811 utility locates alone because they are not considered comprehensive.

Clients must also provide as builts or other design plans to the surveyor, or ask the surveyor to hire someone to get the original plans that show utility connections and locations on the property. This helps ensure precision and accuracy during the completion of the ALTA survey.

Workers in gear, around a lot of equipment and trucks

How Does it Work?

As an example: 811 will mark gas and utility lines running below a sidewalk outside a church parking lot. But they will not mark all of the utilities that are in the parking lot. That’s outside of their scope of work, because the parking lot is private property.

Under the updated ALTA/NSPS standards, you must now call a private company like GPRS to get a full ALTA survey, including all utilities on private property. Starts

Even if you have up-to-date plans and think you know where every utility line is on a piece of property, you need to get a private locate from GPRS or a similar locating company.


Utility line strikes cause unnecessary damage, risk injury to people on site and in the community, and delay projects. You could be required to repair the damage on your own dime – which can incur serious budget overruns.

According to Common Ground Alliance’s annual DIRT (Damage Information Reporting Tool), about $30 billion in damages occurred due to damaging underground utility lines and underground structures in 2021. According to the Infrastructure Protection Coalition, that figure does not include “hidden” costs of a utility strike. IPC estimates a $60 billion annual utility damage price tag.

As previously mentioned, utility line strikes are dangerous. Approximately 400 workers have died due to utility strikes in the last 20 years, with thousands more sustaining significant injuries caused by underground utility strikes.

GPRS is in pursuit of 100% Subsurface Damage Prevention. To that end, we have a 99.8% accuracy rate on over 350,000 jobs and counting. GPRS Project Managers employ the latest technology to locate subsurface utilities. They are SIM-certified to understand complex utility plans and use their expertise to accurately locate each and every utility line and subsurface structure on your job site.

If you need help with locating utility lines for an ALTA survey, GPRS is here to help. Contact us online or give us a call at 866-914-4718 to discuss your needs, so you can get started with GPRS right away.

Click here to get quote from GPRS to fulfill the new standard requirements