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Am I out of line?

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by Jmiller26b, Nov 14, 2021.

  1. cosmaar1

    cosmaar1 Well-Known Member

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    Did you ever think about passing on the job entirely? The job sounds fairly complicated and if you and your old man can’t come to terms, maybe that’s a sign you don’t need to do it.

    What you don’t want to happen is to put yourself in a position where you aren’t going to make any money. If it were me I would ask myself this question… Is it worth 600 bucks to haul two machines back-and-forth? Probably not. As one of the guys said above you’ll have more time hauling the machines back and forth than what you are charging for. And that’s before you even start any work!

    Ive worked around fiber before. If you even knick that line you are done. To me, this is a multiple thousand dollar job and at least 2 days.
     
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  2. terex herder

    terex herder Senior Member

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    You didn't say how busy the fiber line is, but a $50,000 bill for repair isn't uncommon. You would be billed for all the revenue the line didn't generate, and it's up to them how fast they repair the line.
     
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  3. skata

    skata Senior Member

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    I would never assume the gas or any other line is 36 inches deep. Never! I've seen gas as shallow as 1 foot before. And if you're going down 18 inches to start finding the fiber and you hit it, you're paying for the repair. Either hand Shovel, or use a probing rod. It's a lot easier to dig a hole next to the marked utility and dig sideways to find the utility.
     
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  4. Camshawn

    Camshawn Well-Known Member

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    Gas line to our house was not down 36” like my line to the other building had to be. Gas utility had it down less than 12”.
    I have repaired lots of underground electrical that was marked wrong. Ground settles, gets regraded, landscaped. I would not use a digging machine to find fibre if you are on the hook for a repair. The risk needs to be reflected in your price.
     
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  5. savman

    savman Member

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    I don't live in a coastal state or a large metro.

    I wouldn't even think moving 2 pieces of equipment and 9 tractors hours of work for 1100 dollars much less 600. 9 tractor hours plus hand repair and locating lines is at least 2 days work without knowing really anything about the job.

    I'm in business to make money and there are people out there willing to pay good money to have their problems solved.

    Equipment is expensive, insurance is expensive, everything is expensive. Get paid for your work; to say nothing of the risk of working near the fiber.
     
  6. Jmiller26b

    Jmiller26b Active Member

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    Hey Old Doug thanks for your response! I totally agree with you and I have been working on finding some competitive price points but it's been rough and people around here are as tight as they come!
     
  7. Jmiller26b

    Jmiller26b Active Member

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    Hey Camshawn thanks for your response and I agree the risk of the fiber portion needs to be reflected in the price and now I am going to go back and build more in for it. Much appreciated!
     
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  8. Jmiller26b

    Jmiller26b Active Member

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    Hey savman thanks for your response! Yes everything in this field is very expensive especially repairs!!! LOL :D I am not exactly new to the industry but I am new to figuring pricing as I now own my own business. I am starting to see that my pricing is usually a lot less that if someone would go to the rental store and rent the equipment... and then they would still have to do the work on top of that! I appreciate your input!!!
     
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  9. Aarons81

    Aarons81 Well-Known Member

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    Was just told a story today of a fiber line getting hit at 8" below grade. Knocked out half the town. Utility location company didnt even show it on there site plans.
     
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  10. JLarson

    JLarson Senior Member

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    I've seen some real shallow ones out here when they plow them in.
     
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  11. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    Maybe I shouldn't reply to this one, but then I got to thinking, the op was asking for peoples thoughts so here goes.

    I'd have to agree to a certain extent with savman and could take it a whole lot farther still by stating if your a business owner who plans on being in business for any length of time, you'd better hurry up and rethink this whole situation and figure in the liability side of this venture. I'd have to disagree with CM on his pricing, he didn't say anything about a liability waiver if anything gets hit, all those costs get added on top of the bid price to toss the liability back onto the property owner, if your needing help writing that up, your insurance company would have a form for the owner to sign so you don't have to hire a lawyer to write one up for you.

    I think what most are trying to tell you is, walk away, better yet run away and then start pricing your labor, equipment and everything else much higher so you can stay in business.
     
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  12. suladas

    suladas Senior Member

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    A main gas line, ya it might only be 30" but I know it's not going to be 18", and if it is not my problem, no liability for hitting it if it's off by that much. Gas lines to houses are a totally different beast. No idea on fibre and I wasn't speculating on it, any time i've dug around fibre it's always under the sidewalk. Also gas lines are totally different then fibre, i've found lines where they shouldn't be with a hoe and never damaged them, plastic gas lines are really tough and provided you're using a smooth bucket and ground isn't frozen, a good hoe operator should never damage one.
     
  13. suladas

    suladas Senior Member

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    That is exactly why you get a first call, provided you aren't digging within 2m of any marks you're not on the hook for hitting it.
     
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  14. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    That's a really nice theory, but when an explosion happens when someone marked it wrong and there is a large crater and perhaps your dead, I'd doubt very much if the locate company is going to be blamed for miss marking that gas main, since where the crater is, the hole can be about 50 feet across or more. Like what happened in Iowa a couple decades ago when everyone involved was killed and the crater blew a hole in the field over a few hundred feet across and almost 50 feet deep. I think on that one the contractor was still to blame when it all came down in the end, even though he was dead along with all his crew, same for the NRCS people and also the gas pipeline crew there doing to marking and onsite along with all the equipment, pickups and everything else nearby that was consumed in the fireball and 100 foot tall fire plume till they finally got the gas shut off and then when things cooled down they removed what was left of the remains that were not consumed by the fire or what they could find of them anyhow spread across a few hundred acres of farmland.

    The other side of the whole not to blame issue is this, how much is it going to cost in court to prove your not liable, because more than likely your going to have to hire an attorney and go to court to get out of not paying a huge sum of money when things really go south. I think the whole "when your close to the locate mark you should hand dig" is the phrase that will get you in court, and the last I was told, neither the locate company or the utility company care if it takes you a week or more hand digging every day to find their line so you don't hit it.

    A smooth bucket doesn't mean much in my area, since the plow crew will lift up as they put in the line to clear obstacles like rocks, buried tree stumps and junk and the list is endless. I'm also not sure about your state, but mine its illegal to hook your locating equipment onto anyone's utilities so you can locate out "their" lines. That's private utilities and anyone uses or tampers with their boxes, peds or lines to hook onto without written permission, your breaking the law before you even start to dig. So I'm not sure where anyone thinks they can just hook their stuff up to locate these lines themselves and do it legally, because you can't where I live, now does everyone do it, the answer is yes, if caught doing it, not sure, I don't know of anyone who has been caught in the act before.

    There is one more issue nobody every talks about, all the dead and abandoned lines still in the ground, seems phone companies are the worst, every time they have a line go dead or bad, they just plow in a new line and leave the old one in the ground, so there are many areas I dig in, where there is only one "live" line, but up to a dozen lines marked, you can decide which one is the live line, but since they have such crappy maps, the locate company marks them all, now go start hand digging to avoid them all is the jest of it in my area, not to mention all the times they have been hit and repaired, many of the older repair guys will coil a loop of wire so when the hole settles the loop can take the stretch out of the line and not break it, so if your digging with a smooth bucket and you hook the loop by following the line with the bucket, you still hit the line that was marked and you can again pay for the repair.

    Now lets discuss fiber, there is supposed to be a tracer or marker strip buried shallower above the line, but when that line tears as its being put in and there is a stretch a few feet to several hundred feet long there is no tracer installed, nobody goes back and puts that in, now you have an non traced portion of fiber in the ground you can figure out where it is, same principles apply about lifting the plow up and going over obstacles and also where they bore under things like creeks, gas mains, roads and everything else, there can be gaps in their tracer marks in those locations as well and we've found loops buried at those junctions in fiber too to allow for stretch, which they claim is never done............yea about that claim.

    Not sure anyone has had this next issue happen, but when something is hit, and everyone shows up, the marking crew will again hook up their locating equipment and start to remark everything, so you need to take photo's before, during and after something your digging near to prove the marks were off in the first place and you need someone onsite of your crew to make sure nothing is remarked after the fact when it was marked wrong the first time. Many of the locating companies are given orders as standard procedure to go remark the lines and do it right the second time around so they don't have to pay the bill, after all it pretty hard to prove in court when the line was marked correctly, I've even been told by them, they were instructed to mark the line, then knock dirt over their "new" marks to make it look like the second set of lines where there first, after all, when your digging, you literally cover up the marks left the first time around.

    With fiber anything goes for costs, the courts have not yet caught up with the technology to be able to put a hard cost for repairs on those YET. Older wires they have, legally in my state anyhow, they can only charge a certain fee to repair those, but with fiber, I'd guess it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars if they want to, and with that much money at stake, you'll bet your a** there will lawyers show up in court to attempt to collect it.

    So with no cap in the potential liability involving fiber and the op only charging a few hundred to maybe a few thousand dollars, to me the risk is too high, couple that with if there is an incident and something gets hit, you'll have a claim to deal with and possible much higher insurance rates or worse yet, being cancelled completely and then what? it goes on your record and nobody will insure the new guy in business insurance.................so your done before you even hardly start?? And this is a good idea to who?? And many are arguing about how its safe to dig with a smooth bucket near fiber or anything else and how good of a job a good operator needs to be with his machines, I'm thinking many are missing the whole point to this discussion completely.

    But maybe we should talk about the only one with any commons sense in the whole equation, the customer, who's wanting things in writing, a bid to do the job, so if something does go south, his butt is covered completely and he's in the clear of it all, and has a cap on his out of pocket costs and everything is in writing and signed and dated, my vote is for him, the only one with enough brains to cover his own a**, he's the guy who's got it figured out in the first place and should be a very successful business owner if he's not already, maybe someone should be taking notes on how it should be done and he seems to be the only one with it all figured out, so I'll have to vote in favor of him being the smart one, he can even get it done so much cheaper than renting the machines and doing the work himself and save all the liability to boot, he's even got it figured out if he cries somewhat about not having any money someone will feel sorry for him and coming running to his aid.........for virtually nothing. I take that back maybe he's running for congress and now he's just practicing his campaign speech on for size.

    Maybe the op should contact his banker and insurance company and run this whole deal by them first, and see what he's told, if neither will tell him anything, I'd first start by looking for another banker and insurance company and go from there.
     
  15. terex herder

    terex herder Senior Member

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    In this area, anyway, the fellows marking the lines are like the company mechanics in vetech63's thread, near worthless. The marking company has one full time guy year around for about 10 counties. When spring rolls around, they hire another 3-6 people, mostly new hires. Then when things slow up in the fall, they lay them off. Almost no continuity. I had one this spring where the locate guy couldn't find a 12" steel main gas line with risers at every property line. I knew where the line was so I wasn't to worried. When the company man came out to witness within 50' of their line he was livid. After a few phone calls from the gas company boss, the marker company sent out a better hand to assist the original marker guy and provide training. By that time I was done.
     
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  16. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Like I said to the original OP - "It's like asking how much does a car cost?"

    I was pricing a Toyota and Randy your pricing a Mercedes..:D
     
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  17. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    Years ago now, I was supposed to dig around a local liquids pipeline and the idiot they sent out couldn't find their line, after about a half hour of finding nothing, he wanted me to sign his paperwork so he could go to another job. I hadn't dug a thing yet and he planned on leaving without even locating the line, let alone tell me how deep it was in the ground, let alone supervise me as dug directly over the line?? nothing?? just leave with his paperwork signed was the jest of it. Long story short, once the paperwork is signed, the contractor isn't supposed to go into the corridor of the pipeline again without a company rep on site, and if I do, I take full responsibility for anything I damage and basically am breaking the law by digging in the corridor unattended..............and I was to sign this before I'd dug anything?? WTF, and a whole lot more came to mind in about two seconds flat.

    I couldn't believe it, here is a well known company and this is their idea of how to do things and this is the idiot they sent out to do the locates. I about came unglued over this incident and when I pressed the company after I'd refused to sign the paperwork, I was told to shut up and sign it and I quote, I should be just fine on my own?

    Too bad for them I knew enough about the law to demand action be taken and in no certain terms about now would work just fine for me. It did get located out and AFTER I was done the paperwork got signed but, I should be just fine on my own was even a good idea to tell the contractor, what moron dreamed up that response.
     
  18. JLarson

    JLarson Senior Member

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    I don't trust 811 any farther then I can throw them. Saw one guy roll up, get out of the SUV with a can of orange and paint 2 lines and was gone in under 3 min on one of our jobs the other day. Dude missed 6 other coax lines for the ISP lol.
     
  19. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Don't know the laws in AZ but here in AL take pics of the locate marks/flags and have a valid time wise locate and you're in the clear - dig away.
     
  20. Truck Shop

    Truck Shop Senior Member

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    Years ago when I worked construction, we were changing out some under ground vaults for the city.
    It was their stuff and their locate. Gary the operator snagged some wires-he stopped then cop cars
    come flying up from every direction and surrounded the bank one block down. One pulled up got out
    with gun drawn and told us to get back a robbery in progress. Gary tapped him on the shoulder and
    pointed to the teeth on the bucket, cop turned back looking down the street towards the bank after
    a short minute he holstered his gun because the light finally came on.