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newbie utilty locator

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  • newbie utilty locator

    Hi Guys,

    I'm currently working full time for a plumbing wholesaler. Just wondering if utility line or private line locating is a business that could generate enough work for the investment. I would be a one man show with a SR-60 . I'm trying to find out if there is any provincial certification required to become a locator. As far as i can tell, there is no formal training available from any of the trade schools here in the lower mainland Vancouver area.

    Most of the businesses promoting utility locating seem to be larger company's with all the toys,trucks and multiple staff.

    I have a $5000.00 budget to work with and would like to see my investment paid for in 12-18 months

    Are any of you guys doing this as a smaller operation full or part time ?

    What type of jobs are you doing?

    At this point, it's just an idea for a business and i have no money invested.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated

    Thank You, BCL

  • #2
    Re: newbie utilty locator

    Not in the locating business myself, but at work we do locates all the time and I will say that we use GPR many times in addition to a locator. This is on company property, a large site of a couple hundred acres, and there is loads of stuff in the ground so no one does more than kick at the dirt with their boot without doing a locate and probably GPR too. Outside in the real world I know GPR is used but how often I can't say. I have a friend who has a GPR service and he gets calls but not enough to make a living off of. You have as you said all the big guys like Master Locators and other companies. You should also think about the potential for liability on your part, what happens if you say the dig spot is clear and you miss something and it gets hit and/or damaged during excavation? They'll be coming after somebody. Also, the states all have utility locating services which are funded by the utilities who have commodities buried in the ground, and the states all have laws which say you MUST call for a locate even on your own (homeowner) property, even if you are planting a couple small trees for example. How do you compete with free locates for homeowners provided by 811? So you can write off the residential business.

    I have a SR-20 with inductive clamp and brick that I use for my own for informational and planning purposes. When planning work I want to know what's in there (and know if it agrees with what's shown on drawings I have) before the excavation contractor calls for a locate. I don't think I could even make truck payments off what I could take in doing locates for others, let alone make a living however modest it might be.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


    1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


    • #3
      Re: newbie utilty locator

      You cannot start in that business for $5000. Without proper training you are going to get people hurt or killed. One machine does not make a locating business. Why don't you just work for a locating company?
      • leak detection
      • drain cleaning
      • utility locating
      • conductor fault locating
      • and other specialties.

      Greensboro NC, Winston-Salem NC, High Point NC, Thomasville NC, Kernersville NC


      • #4
        Re: newbie utilty locator

        Same as what has already been said, the liability is large. Now if you where to buy leak detection equipment plus locating stuff you could find leaks in concrete for other contractors and homeowners. Just depends on how many guys are doing it around you. Most small cities hire it out. Because GPR is really needed for utils and it is not cheap. Just as an example houses are one thing but go to a apt complex with say 20 buildings all with underground cable, electrical, water and gas lines all crossing each other and someone wants you to perfectly mark out the crossing water lines! When utils cross each other the signal goes wacky on your screen and you will be responsible for the whole mess!
        Last edited by Cuda; 10-07-2012, 09:42 AM.
        Seattle Drain Service


        • #5
          Re: newbie utilty locator

          a sewer camera and a locater can generate good money. but your budget on good new equipment would be closer to 10,000.

          you would need to get hooked up with the local guys that don't own the equipment. plus you would need a good understanding of drainage systems.

          phoebe it is


          • #6
            Re: newbie utilty locator

            Hello guy's

            Thank you for thank for your replys. looks like maybe I should look to start another line of work. like I said I already have a full time job with a boss. there's no way I need another boss,so working for someone is out of the question. I'm looking for something I can do on my own.
            thanx again for your honesty.


            • #7
              Re: newbie utilty locator

              Every customer is THE boss
              Seattle Drain Service


              • #8
                Re: newbie utilty locator

                Is that like "the customer is always right"? We all know that's true . I would like to think of the customer as a someone who requires my services. If we can mutually agree on price and terms i will perform the work. Calling the customer the boss is just wrong IMO "THE boss" is a dictator who decides when i work how much i work and how much i get paid


                • #9
                  Re: newbie utilty locator

                  I have been very pleased with my purchase of my Protoek LF2200. Spot on every time. I do mostly Sonde locates though.

                  Prototek | Underground Locating Equipment for the Professional
                  Will Rogers Plumbing
                  Moore, Oklahoma
                  405) 323-2852

                  "Your Solution for Any Sewer and Drain Cleaning Needs"

                  "We Unclog Drains That Others Can't"


                  "Oklahoma's Favorite Plumbers!"