With construction season upon us, site clearing, demolition, and excavation will kick off projects – yet all that literal groundbreaking activity may uncover or even strike buried utilities. Every heavy equipment operator knows to call 811 before the ground is disturbed; 811 is the minimum requirement. Did you know that subsurface utility exploration (SUE) can show more? The biggest area to explore is private property, which 811 does not cover. The most common items to explore are active (and abandoned) water, gas, or electric services lines. There may also be forgotten underground tanks, irrigation & communication lines, drywells, or unused drainage structures. It is crucial to know as much as you reasonably can about what is below ground before you dig. There’s a world of risk below our feet! That risk can be a dangerous strike, a costly change-order, or even just time lost trying to figure out what is going on. Each year The Common Ground Alliance publishes the Damage Incident Reporting Tool (DIRT) report analyzing the utility damage events across Canada and the US. In 2020, a variety of stakeholders reported 385,381 utility line strikes and damages. The data shows that excavators were responsible for the majority of damage incidents and that telecommunications were the #1 type of facility damaged, followed by natural gas. The DIRT report estimates that the reported strikes resulted in $30 billion of societal losses each year. That stunning sum will likely increase with investments in infrastructure and energy on deck. It’s more than a smart move to invest in your project and find out more about what’s underneath your feet. Reduce the risk on your jobsite, increase safety and develop confidence, by using SUE. You can rely on GdB to bring our experience with the tools (e.g. GPR & radio-detection) and understanding of underground utilities. The crew will trace out what can be found and use paint on the ground or place flags to designate utilities. GdB can also use survey-grade tools to locate those flags for use in a map or report.

Major Ramifications When Striking Underground Utilities


Project Delays

Striking utilities can cause major delays in project schedules.  Imagine being a subcontractor who drilled into a water main because they were unaware of the underground asset. This could potentially cause significant disruption for days allowing the project schedule to fall behind. GdB experts will find and mark out underground utility lines, tanks, and pipes prior to the start of your project. This will avoid the risk of striking the utilities and causing disruption to the project timeline.


Financial Burden

Damaging underground utilities is costly! Hitting utilities can be a huge financial burden on a contractor due to repair costs, fines, legal action, and more. Unplanned relocation of existing utilities can also be costly. GdB’s SUE data can determine if there are utility conflicts to your project plans which in return can result in cost savings of thousands to millions on your project’s budget.



Drilling into underground utilities on a jobsite can cause serious harm to workers and the community. If a gas line is clipped releasing natural gas into the air, this can cause significant health concerns for those in the area. Hitting utilities for a contractor can also result in life threatening injury. Locating utilities can reduce the risk of injury or harm because excavation work can be done away from utility locations.