Questions to Ask Utility Locating Subcontractors

Questions to Ask Utility Locating Subcontractors

Questions to Ask Utility Locating Subcontractors

Finding the right utility locating subcontractors can be a daunting task. You likely already have poor expectations after dealing with Call 811 locators, so how can you trust a utility locating company you are hiring to work a project? This list of questions will help you qualify subcontractors for utility locating services.


Question Right Answer Wrong Answer

What types of projects have you completed recently?

The goal of this question is to make sure the utility locating company has work experience on similar projects and project sites as yours.

Ensure the utility locating subcontractor has worked on similar projects as yours. It is important that the company knows and understands the types of utilities that may be present at your location. Locating underground utilities at a College Campus is completely different than locating underground utilities at an oil refinery. Be weary if the utility locating subcontractor does not have any experience locating utilities on commercial or industrial properties. Many utility locating companies will offer private locating services to any project site even though the company is only experienced in locating CATV wires.

What is your opinion on inductive locating?

The goal of this question is to ensure that the utility locating company provides quality services by employing best practices within the utility locating industry.

The utility locating subcontractor should only use inductive locating as a last resort. The most reliable method is an active signal using a direct connection. This works by connecting a transmitting device directly to the conductor of the target utility using a wire. Beware of any company that is comfortable with using inductive locating or that doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem. Inductive locating is the least reliable method of applying a tracing signal to a utility by broadcasting the signal in a large area. The signal will travel through any conductive utility within proximity of the transmitting device, making it very difficult to isolate the target utility.

What types of deliverables will you provide?

The goal of this question is to ensure that you are getting the best value for your investment.

The utility locating subcontractor should include a field report of some type, a sketch or map of the utilities that were designated, and even some site photographs of the utility markings and utility conflicts. Make sure that deliverables are included with the price. Many utility locating subcontractors will charge additional fees for things like reports and sewer inspection videos. We feel these should be included at no additional charge, since this was the reason you hired the company in the first place.

What electromagnetic equipment do you use?

This question will help qualify the subcontractor by ensuring they know what they are talking about.

The only correct answer to this question is to ensure that the utility locating subcontractor you are interviewing is using multiple pieces of equipment. There is no one all-purpose piece of equipment. Some equipment is better at locating pipes, and some excels at locating wires. Having a good mix of multiple pieces of equipment means the company understands and employs the best practices in the utility locating industry. Use caution when considering a company that only mentions one piece of equipment. If the subcontractor truly values quality and accuracy, they will be proud to discuss how they employ several instruments.

Have you had any safety related accidents?

This question will help reveal insights for not only the company’s safety position, but their attention to detail as a whole.

None, or very few at a minimum. Good companies that focus on quality will almost always be focused on safety. Companies with an abundance of safety incidents will likely be deficient in other area’s of the business as well, including quality and accuracy.

Do you provide Ground Penetrating Radar services?

This question isn’t a deal breaker, but it helps to further qualify the experience and technologies used by the utility locating subcontractor.

Ideally, the company both owns and employs the use of ground penetrating radar on most if not all projects. Most companies will charge additional fees to mobilize this equipment, and that is perfectly normal. If the company has no idea what this is or does not want to use ground penetrating radar, this is going to be a red flag. Beware companies or individuals that discredit or degrade GPR as ineffective or useless. This is a key indicator that they do not have the experience or skillset needed to use the equipment effectively.


Print / Download PDF of Questions

We’ve put together a nice 2-page PDF of these questions and responses you may use when speaking with a utility locating subcontractor.

Download as PDF


These questions should help you to reveal insights into the utility location subcontractor you are considering hiring. If your project is located in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland area, we encourage you to reach out to Utility Locator, LLC for a proposal by calling (888) 232-5959 or contact use here.

Get a Free Consultation with an Industry Expert.

Let's discuss your project to see if we offer the right solution for your problem.  Use the form below or call our offices at 1-888-232-5959 to request a free consultation with an experienced expert.

Nameyour full name
Phonenumbers only

When shall we contact you?

Timedesired time