Lets talk about your next DIY project. We often think about excavation as something that happens out there, it’s big projects, it’s big developments, it’s mining and involves heavy machinery and that in many cases is a fair definition however when we’re talking about protecting underground utilities such as Telstra, gas services water pipes and more, it’s worth considering a broader definition to excavation.

Post hole

For example, most people wouldn’t consider installing a new fence to be ‘excavation’ however when it comes protecting underground service, it is best to think of excavation as anything that breaks ground.

Therefore, digging a fence post hole, redefining a drainage ditch, concreting a new path or pulling up an old concrete driveway and removing a tree are all forms of excavation that have the potential to damage underground pipes and cables. Add machinery such as an auger, ditch witch or mini excavator and you greatly increase the risk of busting right through a Telstra cable, gas service or a power cable.

Some services are expensive to fix and others can be quite dangerous when damaged. You don’t want to hit a low voltage power cable with you with your steel breaker bar when breaking ground on your next DIY project at home.

Anything that’s going to break ground is something you might want to consider to be ‘excavation’ for the point of service locating and asset protection. Be it digging some footings for a new deck, concreting a driveway or replacing an old fence.

As any service locator and they will tell you about the numerous times they’ve seen that things like Electrical and Telstra cables are found to be very shallow, or laid directly underneath concrete on driveways with no soil cover, so even gently using a bobcat just to lift up old concrete can pull these cables up and cause significant damage.

Case Study
DIY Project: digging a trench for replacement storm water pipe.

A property owner needed to install a replacement storm water pipe from their home into a storm water pit located in the nature strip alongside the road.
They knew the path of the existing, damaged, storm water pipe, they had overhead power and no gas service, and other than the storm water pit, there were no visible pits in close proximity to the nature strip.
Following the path of the existing storm water pipe seemed like a safe approach, until the bucket of the mini excavator they borrowed from a friend went straight through a significant Telstra cable in the nature strip, taking out the internet connection of the neighbors far and wide.
The homeowner didn’t disclose the cost they incurred for repair to the Telstra cable, however I am confident it was significantly more than the cost of a BYDA certified locator.

Following the 5 P’s of safe excavation could have prevented this incident.

We always recommend doing a request for plans from before you dig Australia they’ll give you indicative plans of where pits, pipes and mains cables are running on your nature strip, within roads and any easements that maybe running through your property.

However, BYDA plans generally won’t have details on the location of services on private property and that’s where an underground service located comes in.

It’s easy to think that it’s just a DIY project and we don’t want to spend that additional cost of getting an underground service locator to come out. The question is, does the cost involved with using an accredited underground service locator outweigh the risk if you hit something like power or gas or the cost involved with repairing Telstra or NBN?

To make a booking or ask a question about breaking ground on your next DIY project, contact us.

DIY projects