It is the responsibility of Dig Safe to mark out publicly owned utilities, which typically include the “mains” such as water, sewer, cable, electric, natural gas, etc. Dig Safe may or may not mark your home service feed off of the main depending on the specific “demarcation point” or transfer of ownership, which is often at a meter. As a private locator we identify and mark privately owned utilities that are on your property; in other words the portion of the utilities that you own and are responsible for and those utilities that Dig Safe will not mark.

Privately owned utilities typically include the following:

    • Electric “after the meter” which is often from the utility pole to your house. This may also include secondary power from the house out to a separate garage or barn, invisible pet fences, landscape lighting or driveway lighting, generators, solar arrays, and well pump lines;
    • Telephone and cable TV extensions to the garage, pool house, or outside apartment;
    • Propane lines to buried tanks, gas grills, and pool heaters;
    • Water supply lines. These can include the house service from the shut-off at the street or from a private well;
    • Irrigation and sprinkler systems;
    • Sewer services to the sewer main;
    • Septic lines, tanks, and leach fields.
Common Private Utilities
Common Private Utilities

Dig Safe and private locating go hand in hand. Utility companies and their contract locators do not mark utilities that they do not own. Conversely, private locators can not fulfill the excavator’s legal responsibility to call Dig Safe. There is often more utilities underfoot than you would expect. It is also important to recognize that buried lines are not intuitive; their actual locations and depths may have been influenced by specific site conditions such as weather at the time of burial, tree roots, bedrock, groundwater, line repairs or other factors. It is always best to have a private locator verify the actual location of your underground utilities. Hiring a private locator will save you time and money; redesigns, damages, and costly repairs are avoided when you hire Subterra for your locating needs.


Dig Safe

Dig Safe has a very precise mandate, to protect their lines and public safety. Since it is the utility companies themselves that pay the fee for each locate, they only mark what they own. The utility companies have records and prints that make it possible for their locators to locate lines that would otherwise be impossible to find. As the information that is on those prints is considered proprietary, these prints are typically not available to private locators. In other words, there are some lines that are really only able to be located by the utility company. This is why private locators can not fulfill the legal obligation to call Dig Safe.

Whether you are a contractor or a homeowner, you can now process your Dig Safe ticket request online with your smartphone or PC using the Quick-Ticket.

Click on the following links to get more information on the Vermont Dig Safe Laws, Dig Safe Rules, and Dig Safe FAQ’s.


Private Locating

On the other hand, private locating takes an extremely broad understanding and familiarity with all utilities. Locating private utilities requires an intimate knowledge of how different types of utilities are designed and built and all of their variations. It requires chasing down as-built plans, records, prints, and often rumors. When you request a private locate we will ask you to provide us with as much information that you know or might know about the utilities on your property. Often you may not know too much, but with our knowledge and experience we will be able to identify and mark the utilities on-site to assure your confidence in completing your project safely while avoiding damages and delays.

So as you can see, Dig Safe and private locating are utilized together during a project. So while Subterra will locate your privately owned utilities, you are still required by law to call Dig Safe (811). It is the excavator’s responsibility to make the call. The good news it that calling Dig Safe (811) is completely free. In Vermont and New York, make sure to call at least 48 hours (2 full business days; excluding weekends & holidays) before work is set to begin and be specific with your information. (In MA, ME, NH, & RI make sure to call at least 72 hours or 3 full business days prior to scheduled work). Calling 811 from anywhere in the USA will connect you to your state’s Dig Safe call center. You can also submit requests through their website at Dig Safely New York (New york), or Dig Safe (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). Dig Safe will ask you a series of questions about the details of your project.

When you contact Subterra for a private mark out, we will ask you if you have been cleared by Dig Safe, this way there are no questions about who is responsible for marking which lines. This may require some additional coordination between you, Subterra and Dig Safe to avoid any unnecessary delays. If your site is serviced by municipal water and sewer, you may need to contact the town to have them mark out the portions of those lines that they own.


Still have questions?  No problem, give us a call and we will be happy to assist you in the process.