Published: Feb 21, 2022

Why is a "Cheap" Line Locator Sooo Expensive?

Shopping for the cheapest quote for your job?
It usually costs less to hire proven expertise.

Tim Quintal, icon
Tim QuintalLocating Operations Manager
a maze of red locating lines on a concrete sidewalk

What is a High Quality Locate?

A quality locate will always prove line and licence numbers.

Proving line and licence means all registered lines are located and checked off.

Then every line is marked with a stake and tipped with a distinct colour. Crews can immediately identify a line by its colour and distinguish it from all the other lines on a congested site.

Possibly some registered lines are not located. Maybe they're plastic. Possibly more lines are located than are registered.

Regardless, a quality locate is followed by an exit meeting where a complete information package is delivered. This is when the site supervisor is made aware of unmarked lines or additional lines that aren't registered.

The bottom line? Crews can instantly see a marked line, even in a maze of others. Site supervisors are aware of any anomalies.

These are some of the ways costs can pile up when locates are not done right the first time:

Crew and Equipment

Poor quality locates usually run up costs when crew and equipment sit idle.

Have you ever seen crews wandering around a site trying to find a specific utility? Or figure out which stake belongs to which utility?

Proper labels and distinctly-coloured stakes can eliminate confusion at a busy location.

What do you do when stakes aren't properly installed? Guess where they were and re-stake? Call out the locate company for a re-stake?

A locate company with high standards will prove line and licence numbers, uniquely colour code each line, and install stakes so they stay put, keeping your crews and equipment moving.


Costs multiply quickly when hydrovac equipment sits idle. This can happen when lines are all marked with the same colour, causing confusion over which line is which.

Less excavating is required when lines are accurately marked. Excess hydrovac charges and disposal fees can be avoided with a high quality locate.


Facilities missed by locates are a major factor in line strikes.

One of the first casualties of a strike is your reputation. Negative media attention damages your public image and can affect your ability to do business for quite some time.


Too many line strikes can also trigger an AER audit. This can limit your ability to self-audit your ground disturbances, utilize your own people for GD permitting or conduct line crossings.

Imagine the cost of being prevented from conducting any ground disturbance for a significant time.


Line strikes can lead to a loss of production if the line must be shut in for repair.

Hitting a telecommunications cable or a low-pressure gas line typically causes a job shutdown to investigate. This usually sidelines crews and equipment, leading to rapidly increasing costs.


Environmental costs due to line strikes can be staggering.


A loss of life on the job is something we all strive to avoid at any cost. Think of expert line locating as a great form of insurance.

An expert locating company will save you money, help you get the job done faster and reduce the risks of a line strike.

An hour of quality costs more than the 'cheap' rate, but it delivers far more value.

TCB Line Locating provides Expert Locating Services, 24/7

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