Winter is behind us and spring is clearly in the air. Time to bring out the garden gadgets and spruce up the garden, prop or rebuild the fence. Rebuilding the fence may appear to be a simple task but what may be unknown to a homeowner is the complexities of buried utilities/infrastructure under their property. There is an assortment of gas, water, recyclable water, telecommunications and sewer networks buried deep underground.
Damaging these networks can cause considerable disruption to not only the homeowner, but neighbouring properties and local businesses.
The pipes and cables that bring gas, water and electricity from the street to your house are called services. Telecommunications cables are called lead-ins.
Services can be tricky to work around as they are often shallow. They can also be unpredictable. There are often privately installed services on private properties and utilities often do not know exactly where services run once onsite of private properties.
So, what can a homeowner do to lessen the risk of hitting services and erecting their fence correctly:
- Lodge a free Dial Before You Dig enquiry; this can be done anytime online;
- Receive plans from registered utility/asset owners with the Dial Before You Dig service;
- It is important to note that the plans from utility owners are indicative only and therefore, may not pinpoint the exact presence of buried utilities;
- Plans will usually show where the service is coming from and where it enters the property;
- Plans from the utility Members will also show any mains and cables on the property. Many major networks on private property do not have an easement;
- Homeowners should take the time to look around their property for evidence of where services may be located such as a downpipe running down a wall into the ground, a water or gas meter, or the top of a septic tank;
All the above clues can allow a homeowner to piece together where the service pipes or cables may be located and ensure buried infrastructure assets are protected from any damage before digging a hole to build a fence.
Dial Before You Dig Members are happy to assist homeowners or in fact anyone who is intending to break ground in reading their plans. The contact details for utility owners are provided on the plans as well as the Enquiry Confirmation Sheet that is received after lodging a Dial Before You Dig enquiry.
Assistance is also available from certified professional cable and pipe locators. Locators charge by the hour to locate pipes and cables. Telstra provides a list of accredited locators with every Dial Before You Dig enquiry. The Utility Location Contractors Association also has a list of locators at www.nulca.com.au.
Hiring a locator will cost you money, but it may save you much more in time and cost.
So if a homeowner intends to rebuild their fence, ensure the correct procedures are followed and Duty of Care exercised.
This article was published in Fencit November 2019 – The Hidden Dangers of Building a Fence.