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Thread: Pricing for private locates?

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Question Pricing for private locates?

    I met a homeowner at a job I marked.
    He needed a line from his house to the garage marked.
    I said I could mark it for him.
    I said it would be $50 off the top of my head.
    Is this a good price? Is there a standard?
    Only one line, about 60ft. I went to his house on my day off,
    Took me about 10 min to setup and mark.
    He was also a contractor and said he'd refer people in town he knew to me : )

    I've had a couple offers for private locates when on jobsites...
    Is there any particular etiquette?
    Thanks.
    Last edited by Nb22x; November 2nd, 2013 at 07:15 PM.
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    When I did it I charged $50. My boss and others in the area charge from $100 to $150. People pay it.

    Etiquette:
    -Treat it like a business.
    -Never stand around, always be moving.
    -Be professional and don't talk about the weather with the client.
    -Don't be afraid to tell them you can't do a job and have the number of a person ready to refer them too. Don't leave them hanging.
    They will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you aren't leaving them to fend for themselves.
    -Don't take on a job that is over your head. Peoples lives and incomes may depend on it.
    Nb22x and UULC like this.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    I have always been concerned about liability issues involved with doing private locates on my own. Would I be responsible for repair costs if there was a mis-locate? Do you know if a disclaimer would help? Are the laws different by state?
    I have had contractors that wanted to hire me on my off time to locate exclusively for them and have turned them down due to my lack of knowledge about liabilities.

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    Junior Member 480sparky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by EricB View Post
    I have always been concerned about liability issues involved with doing private locates on my own.
    Check with your GL carrier to see if you're already covered, or if you need additional coverage.


    Quote Originally Posted by EricB View Post
    Would I be responsible for repair costs if there was a mis-locate? Do you know if a disclaimer would help?
    Only the results of a lawsuit against you can answer that.


    Quote Originally Posted by EricB View Post
    Are the laws different by state?
    Yep.


    Quote Originally Posted by EricB View Post
    I have had contractors that wanted to hire me on my off time to locate exclusively for them and have turned them down due to my lack of knowledge about liabilities.
    "On my time off" = the contractor is really saying, "I want you to lose money for my benefit. You need to live under a bridge and eat cold wieners so I can afford my Avalanche payments and take my kids to Disneyland". If you're unsure whether you're up to the task, then find someone you can refer people to.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Some additional considerations.

    Every locate firm I have worked at has had a form, or a written employee policy, that forbid me from doing any employment, including working for myself on a side job, that was a conflict of interest with my employer. Marking for money is competition with my employer and forbidden, even if my firm does not do private locates.

    Whose equipment are you using? Use your employers phone, vehicle or locate equipment & expect to be fired.

    Apparent Authority, a legal term. Show up with a company vehicle and / or wearing company clothing and your firm could be sued for any damages resulting from your marks. Your company has the deep pockets, not you, and that is who someone seeking compensation will go after.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nb22x View Post
    I met a homeowner at a job I marked.
    He needed a line from his house to the garage marked.
    I said I could mark it for him.
    I said it would be $50 off the top of my head.
    Is this a good price? Is there a standard?
    Only one line, about 60ft. I went to his house on my day off,
    Took me about 10 min to setup and mark.
    He was also a contractor and said he'd refer people in town he knew to me : )

    I've had a couple offers for private locates when on jobsites...
    Is there any particular etiquette?
    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
    Check with your GL carrier to see if you're already covered, or if you need additional coverage.




    Only the results of a lawsuit against you can answer that.




    Yep.




    "On my time off" = the contractor is really saying, "I want you to lose money for my benefit. You need to live under a bridge and eat cold wieners so I can afford my Avalanche payments and take my kids to Disneyland". If you're unsure whether you're up to the task, then find someone you can refer people to.
    Given that our profession is unlicensed and mostly unregulated,
    A release of liability and a legally binding contract takes care of that.
    I wrote one for when I do side jobs. Below...



    Liability Release and Contract
    for
    Private Utility Location Services

    The "Customer" hereby releases the "Private Utility Location Contractor", to be known as the "Contractor"
    from any damage to property or persons due to excavation after the Contractor has marked
    the Customer's agreed upon "Private Utilities".

    "Private Utilities" are defined as subsurface utilities on and servicing the Customer's property; wholly owned by the Customer.
    Private Utilities are not owned or operated by utility companies, nor are they marked by utility companies or
    their sub-contractors via The "Maryland Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Law" (Miss Utility Law).

    The Contractor provides no guarantee that marks made on the Customer's property to denote
    the location of Private Utilities are accurate.
    The Customer or any entity sub-contracted by the Customer assumes all risk and
    responsibility when excavating on the Customer's property.

    The Customer and the Contractor, known as "We and Our" have agreed upon a set price for services completed.
    The Contractor will be compensated as such immediately after services are completed.
    We agree that the Contractor will be compensated $___.

    On the date stated below, Our Signatures on this form below now legally affirm this contract.


    Contractor Customer

    _________________________


    Date Date




    Phone/Email Phone/Email
    Last edited by Nb22x; November 4th, 2013 at 10:55 PM.
    EricB likes this.
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Member overspray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nb22x View Post
    I met a homeowner at a job I marked.
    He needed a line from his house to the garage marked.
    I said I could mark it for him.
    I said it would be $50 off the top of my head.
    Is this a good price? Is there a standard?
    Only one line, about 60ft. I went to his house on my day off,
    Took me about 10 min to setup and mark.
    He was also a contractor and said he'd refer people in town he knew to me : )

    I've had a couple offers for private locates when on job sites...
    Is there any particular etiquette?
    Thanks.
    I have been doing private locates for years. $50.00 for a small homeowner is about as much as most homeowners are willing to pay. If you plan on doing locates for contractors or commercial property you are going to have to get liability insurance. More and more business are requiring a certificate of Liability Insurance. We carry $4,000,000.00 in general liability, $2,000,000.00 and umbrella, and $1000,000,000.00 in automobile. And it is not cheap. Without a certificate a lot of job sites will not let you on there property. No release of liability contract will stop a lawsuit if you miss something, especially if a worker is injured because you missed a power line. I am not trying to scare you off, there is plenty of work for everyone. I just want you to protect yourself from a lawsuit, it could bankrupt you. If you do good work it will spread from contractor to contractor quickly and before you know it you will have a full time job.
    Now, what the ---- did I do with that ped wrench???????????

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    When I was with a public locating company, I located well lines and other stuff for the homeowners who were not ass clowns free of charge. Fortunately, most of the homeowners in my area were pretty cool and were very appriciative. I would usually be forced to take home vegetables, fruits, or the a soda for my troubles. My only qualification to them was that I was not liable, and I was only marking signals that I coudn't properly Identify and could be the utility that I was supposed to find.

    It is a big slippery slope to charge people to use the equipment another company has given you for a seperate purpose. If you are caught, or get into trouble. You are assured of a big financial headache, law suit or loss of job.

    As for the liability waiver.... You should have one, but just know that they are useless. It is designed to be a detourant, and nothing more.

    As for your specific waiver that you stated, I would stay away from the verbage
    Quote Originally Posted by Nb22x View Post
    ........The Contractor provides no guarantee that marks made on the Customer's property to denote the location of Private Utilities are accurate....

    You want to emphasise that you are not held liable for any "Un-mapped" utilities. This Changes the verbage from questioning your accuracy to not being help liable for utilities that no one knows about. Just a suggestion. Even with this, Waivers don't mean anything in a court of law. Just ask a lawyer =)

    mke

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    wow a contractor that would have you locate private utilities for him, that sounds like a good gig!
    Homeowner - "They still bury lines in the ground?
    I thought they didn't do that anymore!"
    Me - "Yes sir they do."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "...But you're painting all over people's property"
    Me - "Yes I am. It's the law."
    ____________________
    Homeowner - "My gas line is not over there"
    Me - "Yes it is."

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by EricB View Post
    I have had contractors that wanted to hire me on my off time to locate exclusively for them and have turned them down due to my lack of knowledge about liabilities.

    "On my time off" = the contractor is really saying, "I want you to lose money for my benefit. You need to live under a bridge and eat cold wieners so I can afford my Avalanche payments and take my kids to Disneyland". If you're unsure whether you're up to the task, then find someone you can refer people to.
    That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. If I met a locator that was worth his weight, I'd see if he can do private locates for me. I've got my own locator, but sometimes there's more utilities and less time to get the job done and you want someone to call on that can get things done right.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by overspray View Post
    I have been doing private locates for years. $50.00 for a small homeowner is about as much as most homeowners are willing to pay. If you plan on doing locates for contractors or commercial property you are going to have to get liability insurance. More and more business are requiring a certificate of Liability Insurance. We carry $4,000,000.00 in general liability, $2,000,000.00 and umbrella, and $1000,000,000.00 in automobile. And it is not cheap. Without a certificate a lot of job sites will not let you on there property. No release of liability contract will stop a lawsuit if you miss something, especially if a worker is injured because you missed a power line. I am not trying to scare you off, there is plenty of work for everyone. I just want you to protect yourself from a lawsuit, it could bankrupt you. If you do good work it will spread from contractor to contractor quickly and before you know it you will have a full time job.
    Man, who are you working for that they want $1 trillion dollars in automobile coverage. Wow!

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessionalLocator View Post
    Some additional considerations.

    Every locate firm I have worked at has had a form, or a written employee policy, that forbid me from doing any employment, including working for myself on a side job, that was a conflict of interest with my employer. Marking for money is competition with my employer and forbidden, even if my firm does not do private locates.

    Whose equipment are you using? Use your employers phone, vehicle or locate equipment & expect to be fired.

    Apparent Authority, a legal term. Show up with a company vehicle and / or wearing company clothing and your firm could be sued for any damages resulting from your marks. Your company has the deep pockets, not you, and that is who someone seeking compensation will go after.
    As a contractor, this is how I read into what you just wrote....

    that forbid me from doing any employment, including working for myself on a side job, that was a conflict of interest with my employer. Marking for money is competition with my employer and forbidden, even if my firm does not do private locates.

    If you aren't locating for a utility that they locate for, then by all means, for it (also: see below). Say you locate power and gas. Customer has a private water line or private electric line that they need located, it's not taking money away from your employer for them to call you directly, go ahead.

    Apparent Authority, a legal term. Show up with a company vehicle and / or wearing company clothing and your firm could be sued for any damages resulting from your marks. Your company has the deep pockets, not you, and that is who someone seeking compensation will go after.
    Dude, if you show up for a private locate in your USIC truck (don't know if you work for them, just speaking in generalities), and you miss something that gets damaged, you should be fired for stupidity (for showing up in your regular work truck - not for missing something - everyone has an accident at some point). Show up in your personal pick up truck, with your own personal locator, there is a clear separation of work/personal life.



    Personally, my biggest fear is when I know someone is on well/septic and I may be working in the backyard (it's happened many times before). I have a company I use to do private locates like this, because I don't want the liability or the responsibility if something goes wrong.
    UULC and locatepro like this.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Quote Originally Posted by jayc View Post
    Personally, my biggest fear is when I know someone is on well/septic and I may be working in the backyard (it's happened many times before). I have a company I use to do private locates like this, because I don't want the liability or the responsibility if something goes wrong.
    My biggest fear is for a contractor to call me for locates just so he can put blame on someone else.

    Like I tell most contractors, "the easy stuff locates great, the difficult stuff is difficult but doable. The stuff that doesn't locate....doesn't locate. No matter how much you want it to."

    It sounds like crap advise, but we are not miracle workers. A PVC water line or drain field won't locate.

    I had a large local construction company call me out to a high school to do some locates. The sup had no issues telling me the story of how his guys just damaged the main electric feed to the school and that I was only there to blame for the next damage and to appease the school who made them get a private locator.

    I can go on, on how much of an ass this guy was, but I think you get the point

    Mke
    UULC likes this.

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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    I can tell you from personal experience that no piece of paper will stand up in court. I just finished a 2 year case where a contractor hit 1 phase of a 3 phase feeder, the motors weren't properly protected and "single phased" burning them out. After 150,000 in new and repaired motors, motor protectors, starters etc and 200,000 in lost production later the matter was finally resolved. these figures don't include liquidated damages. The charge for the private locate was 125.00

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    Default Re: Pricing for private locates?

    Like most have already said it is a MAJOR liability. For something that small I would charge $300 as well as have the contractor sign a contract. You better be sure before locating it that it is "private" or that will lead to more trouble.

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