"clients often joke that if they don’t know where the underground services are they should call a contractor in, and they’ll quickly dig them up."
Existing services such as electrical cables, gas mains, water lines and telecommunication cables are often damaged when excavations are being carried out on construction projects. In fact clients often joke that if they don’t know where the underground services are they should call a contractor in, and they’ll quickly dig them up. Of course this isn’t so funny for the contractor, especially if they damage a fibre optic cable which costs thousands of dollars to repair.
"Accidently breaking a utility line can be dangerous, expensive, and disrupts work"
The cost of damaging an existing service
Contractors definitely don’t want to damage existing services on their construction projects because:
1. the repair costs can be large
2. when a high voltage electrical cable is damaged there’s a risk someone will be electrocuted
3. work is often held up until the repair is completed, which may take several days
4. often a cable is unknowingly damaged, but remains operational, and only later, after the contractor has installed concrete floors and finishes the cable fails, resulting in the completed work having to be broken up to repair the fault
5. if an electrical cable feeding the site is damaged it could mean the site is without power for several hours or days, impacting the schedule and productivity
6. the client and neighbouring businesses will be unhappy if the contractor disrupts their services (even claiming for losses incurred)
How contractors can avoid damaging existing services
"Contractors must obtain the necessary permits before excavating"
It’s important that you:
1. obtain all the necessary permits before excavating, drilling, cutting into, or demolishing structures
2. ensure all the known services are located
3. clearly mark these services (I cannot tell you how many times we’ve damaged known services because they weren’t marked)
4. protect the services where possible
5. ensure all newly installed services are clearly marked on the ground and on drawings
6. ensure workers are aware of the services and take precautions not to damage them
7. clearly highlight the risk of damaging the services in risk assessments and at prestart meetings
8. use personnel that are adequately trained and competent, so they don’t accidently operate a machine in a way that damages a service
"Overhead power cables are dangerous"
Damage to services applies to overhead ones as well, and you must take steps to ensure that construction machines don’t come close to overhead power lines or structures, as this could result in a fatal accident. Like this fatal crane accident
Contractors must protect existing utility lines
Damaging an existing service can be costly, disruptive and often dangerous. The project team needs to be made aware of all existing services and ensure that suitable precautions are taken so they aren’t damaged.
10 Commandments for Construction Project Managers
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7/9/2015 06:18:25 pm
9/9/2015 09:21:36 pm
Tthe majority of our projects are located within the footprint of operating power generation facilities that have been in operation for a number of years. As most of the projects involve relocation of underground utilities or installation of either deep foundations (caissons,micropiles or large spread footers) we usually hydroexcavate the perimeter to a depts of 8-10 feet so that we can visually verify that we don't inadvertantly damage a service that could cause injury or impact operation of the generation plant or operating system. Process consists of a hydroblast rig and a vacumn truck and excavate a 6"-8" trench and then back fil with sand.
12/9/2015 05:50:16 pm
Thanks Bill for that useful advice
17/9/2015 08:57:58 pm
25/5/2017 02:58:56 am
It makes sense to get a permit when starting a construction project. I've noticed that our foundation has started to crack and break down. I wonder if micropiles installed could help to reinforce the foundation before there is permanent damage.
25/5/2017 03:43:13 am
Hi Chris, I can't comment on why your foundations are cracking and how you can stop further deterioration. It would be best to employ an expert to look at the problem. Cracking can be due to a number of reasons. Fixing the problem depends on the soil conditions and the design and construction of your existing foundations. Micro piles may be a possible solution but depends on the factors mentioned above.
27/3/2018 07:27:12 am
My brother was talking about joining some work that would have him working with power plant construction contractors. He is interested in learning more about these jobs. I will let him know that he should be sure to allow those adequately trained to operate machinery.
17/7/2018 09:32:34 pm
There is work that needs to take place in my yard. I have always been the type of person who likes to do things by myself. On this project, I will digging deeper than usual and scared I will break something I shouldn't. Thank you for the advice about how to avoid damage. I will make sure if I hire a professional construction service that they have the necessary permits. And I will make sure they know where all the services are located.
17/7/2018 10:34:59 pm
Thanks Lilia, good to know I helped. Good luck with your project.
I do agree with you that destroying an existing service like that of the electrical cables, water lines and telecommunication cables can be expensive, troublesome even giving rise to dangers. As that is often true when it comes to excavation projects, your article is a good reminder to all involved in that. We are planning to have an excavation done in the place where our new home will be built and because we do not want to destroy the water lines even the electrical wires there we will definitely hire the service of the experienced excavation contractor to do the job.
25/11/2018 12:04:11 pm
Hi Renz, good luck with your new home build. Thanks for your comment. For more useful home building information please see my latest book 'Build and Renovate Your Home With Your Eyes Wide Open' available from Amazon in ebook or paper. It's packed with useful tips and information whether you intend to employ a contractor or do the work yourself.
30/4/2019 07:17:12 am
Looking for the clearly highlighted issues is a great idea. This will make it easier to fix it in the future and solve the issue sooner. My sister might like knowing this as she looks into getting an excavating service for her new building.
31/8/2019 04:45:16 am
I'm glad you talked about how when a high voltage electrical cable is damaged, it means someone could get electrocuted. My husband is wanting to start on his construction project next week and isn't good with electrical things and wanted to know how to stay safe. I'll make sure to pass this information along to him so he can know the dangers of a damaged electrical cable.
24/7/2020 05:49:05 pm
7/8/2020 07:38:05 pm
Thanks for the useful Information
25/9/2020 02:09:19 pm
Hello, thank you for sharing this article it will be really helpful for me to understand about damaging existing services on construction projects. I appreciate your step for choosing this topic. Great article!! You have done a good research I must say, thank you very much for sharing this article.I have seen similar information at one place, you can also see on Mitchellelectrical.nz
7/11/2020 05:30:36 pm
I appreciated that you have presented this data over here damaging existing services on construction projects, I love all the information shared. Great article! Thank you very much for sharing this article.
5/3/2021 01:01:18 pm
I like that this post highlighted that before starting on any construction project, it is important to ensure that the contractor we hire is is experienced and skilled. In doing so, we will be certain that the construction will be done without any worry. This is important as it will save us from any costly repair works after.
1/7/2021 01:41:30 am
I appreciated it when you shared that it is important to obtain all the necessary permits before excavating or demolishing any structures. My uncle just mentioned the other day that he is planning to excavate his old home and rebuild a new property. I will suggest to him hiring a reliable service that can help with the process.
1/12/2021 07:10:32 am
I like how you mentioned that it is important for your area to be inspected before doing the work. My uncle mentioned to me last night that they are planning to have a business workplace on their vacant site and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do in choosing the excavation service. Thanks to this informative article and I'll be sure to tell him that it will be much better if we consult a trusted excavation services company as they can answer all our inquiries and will provide good-quality service.
3/6/2022 03:13:36 pm
I appreciated how this post mentioned that excavation tasks often damage existing water lines. My friend wants to ensure that their excavation task won't damage any underground line. I think it's best to look for contractor that specializes in residential excavation to ensure a precise job.
12/10/2022 09:01:12 pm
I want to get a swimming pool installed, which means that I'll need to get an area excavated. It makes sense that I would need to avoid digging into utilities. I would really benefit from working with professional excavation services to help me out with this. They would know how to avoid the utilities.
10/2/2023 08:45:07 pm
It's great that this article talked that electrical cables and water lines should be prioritized before the construction project for a safe construction process. My brother told me the other day that he was looking for a trustworthy underground electrical contractor that could help him with an underground electrical system for a safe renovation project. I appreciate this informative electrical article. I'll tell him it will be much better if he consults a trusted underground electrical contractor as they can provide information about their services.
16/2/2023 02:38:47 pm
Thank you for mentioning that existing utilities, including electrical wires, gas mains, water lines, and telephone cables, are frequently harmed when excavations are carried out on building projects. My sister requires excavation for the construction of a house. I'll advise her to consult a professional excavation firm to ensure that she doesn't sever water and electricity lines before building her home.
11/5/2023 01:21:37 pm
Constructing new infrastructure and developments can undoubtedly bring numerous benefits to a community. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that such projects often come with the risk of damaging existing services. This issue should not be taken lightly, as it can have significant consequences for the affected individuals and the overall progress of the project.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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