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The Excavation Process: An Interview with Roger Sampson of New York 811

By Roger Sampson

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

New York 811 was founded as a way for professional excavators to prevent damages to buried utilities in the course of their excavation, by giving them a single point of contact to inform all the utility companies of an intention to excavate.

It is a New York State law that you must call 811 at least 2 full business days before you start your planned excavation. When you make the call to New York 811 our customer service representatives will take all of your important details such as excavation site, when the excavation will take place, contact information and any special instructions related to the excavation. The excavation information taken will then be sent electronically to the utilities that may have buried facilities around the excavation site, and those utilities will send one of their field representatives to determine the exact location of the their facilities in relation to the excavation site. Either the utility will give you an "all clear" or they will mark where their facility is so when you start your excavation you can avoid making contact with that utility line.

What needs to be accomplished prior to beginning the excavation?

The information required prior to making the 811 call is the exact location, address, county, city, state, reliable contact formation if the utilities need to ask questions about the location, the type of excavation equipment being used i.e. backhoe, power auger, hand tools, etc. and expected start date of the excavation. (Please note you must give at least 2 full business days' notice of your intent to excavate, to give the utility operators time to verify and or mark their facility).

Please walk our readers through the general steps required to excavate land in preparation for a house:

The most important step in planning an excavation in or around your property is to ensure that your excavation does not damage or interrupt vital utilities that may be in the area of your excavation. Doing this is very simple, CALL 811. Each utility representative will come out and review your excavation site and determine if there are any of their utilities in the area of your excavation, they will either give and "all clear" or mark the location of the utility with paint, flags or both.

Once all the utilities have responded to the location you are free to excavate taking care to ensure you do not damage the facilities that may be in the area of your excavation. If the homeowner is hiring a professional to excavate that company and or person is required by New York State Law to make that 811 call before they start the excavation.

How long does a typical excavation take?

That depends on the size of the excavation and type of job it is. If your just planting a tree or installing a mailbox, or fence the excavation might only take a couple of hours. If you are doing more intensive excavation such as installing a pool added a foundation, or installing drainage around the house it may take longer possibly over the course of a couple of days or weeks.

What is the payment process for excavating land? (i.e. is it a standard fee, percentage based, hourly?)

The call to 811 is free as well as the service for the utilities to come out and mark the location of the buried utilities. There is no cost of making the call to the person or company doing the excavation.

What is a common issue you face when excavating land and how can they be avoided?

The most common issue faced is coming in contact with or damaging an unmarked utility line. To avoid this simply make the 811 call and have your buried utility lines marked, avoid them and dig with care if those utility lines fall within your excavation. Damaging a vital utility line can have disastrous consequences, you can injure yourself by contacting or cutting a buried electric line, you can cause a gas leak by damaging a buried gas line and that leak could leach into a home and cause an explosion resulting in potential major property damage, injuries and possibly death.

Damaging a communications line can cause a major outage, that would leave the general public without a means to contact vital emergency services like, police, fire departments, and ambulances. Hitting a water line can result in property damage from flooding as well as create sink holes if not repaired immediately. It is always best to be safe, and we can do that by calling 811 before we start any excavation. Any project big or small, make the 811 call.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

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About The Author

Roger Sampson is the Executive Director of New York 811, Inc.

Phone: 1-800-524-7603

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