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Understanding the Basics of Utility Surveys

Understanding the Basics of Utility Surveys

Understanding the Basics of Utility Surveys

Utility surveys are crucial to development, construction, and maintenance projects. Water pipes, gas lines, electrical cables, and telecommunications equipment are examples of subsurface utilities. These surveys offer comprehensive information regarding the location and state of these facilities.

Have you ever wondered what’s beneath the ground of your construction site or the plot of land where you want to build an addition to your house?

Good question! We’ll explain why utility surveys can be crucial for the future of buildings, even though you may already be aware of them or have heard of them.

So, continue reading if you want to add an addition to your house or ensure it’s safe to build on your construction site!

Utility Survey

As the name implies, an underground utility survey is used to identify the kind and location of underground utility infrastructure and produce an extensive map for the customer. This is essential to guaranteeing a project’s limitations from the start.

Utilising data from an underground utility survey for mapping minimises the need for expensive design revisions or errors later in the project and speeds up the planning process.

When contractors use comprehensive, precise, and accurate utility survey maps, they can confidently operate before and during excavation and ensure that their personnel are adequately protected by health and safety laws.

Methods of Utility Surveying

Underground utility surveys involve two methods: Radio Frequency Location (RFL) and Ground Penetration Radar (GPR). Combining the two approaches will make the study more accurate and thorough. The most common approach, RFL, follows the signals that subterranean utilities generate. The survey approach locates the utilities and establishes their position in passive or active mode.

1. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

Using ground penetration radar (GPR) and ground probing radar (GPR) technology, one can locate items fundamentally made of a material different from the surrounding area. This kind of radar is helpful for locating underground objects that would otherwise be invisible, even though it is not as precise as RFL—it cannot provide accurate sizes or material readings.

GPR surveys are used to detect the following:

  1. Fibre optic cables
  2. Plastic gas pipes
  3. Concrete pipes
  4. Plastic water pipes
  5. Clay pipes
  6. Plastic cable ducts
  7. Plastic fuel pipes
  8. Plastic vent pipes

2. Radio Frequency Location (RFL)

Radio Frequency Location (RFL)

Radio Frequency Location (RFL) technology is the most popular data collection method in underground utility surveying. It tracks the signals that targets emanate underneath the earth’s surface.

There are two modes available: passive and active. Most utility surveys will employ active RFL scanning to ascertain the target’s location and depth.

RFL can only detect the locations and dimensions of metal objects since it requires the target to send a signal to function. RFL assists in gathering data regarding:

  1. Metallic fuel pipes
  2. Metallic vent pipes
  3. Electricity cables
  4. Telecommunication cables (metallic)
  5. Communication cables
  6. Metallic water pipes
  7. Metallic gas pipes
  8. Cable TV cables

Dangers of not Getting a Utility Survey

As previously said, the possibility of someone hitting something and suffering severe injuries rises when subsurface services, including metal pipes and electrical lines, are unknown.

A strike on a live wire or a burst water pipe can delay the project and result in serious injury to nearby workers and themselves.

A utility survey can be purchased to enable safe and secure digging and prevent potentially fatal explosions caused by negligent personnel.

Sadly, we’ve seen innumerable headlines and articles about workers suffering significant injuries or even losing their lives due to an occurrence that could have been prevented.

You risk incurring fines for causing harm to the disputed utilities and litigation from injured employees.

Therefore, by opting not to complete a utility survey, you risk dealing with hurt workers, expensive delays, hefty penalties, and litigation affecting the entire company. All these things may be avoided by investing in a survey.


As a business in this industry for decades, we can offer this service quickly and expertly because of our years of experience in the industry and the connections we have made with other businesses.

We provide a convenient one-point of contact for all your utility survey needs. We recognise better than others the necessity of keeping things moving forward to prevent delays.

Additionally, we may prepare a package of needed plans and information for each site, present it in AutoCAD, and connect you with businesses that specialise in additional on-site investigations.

Contact Survey2Plan for your utility survey needs as we are the leading utility surveyors in the UK.

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Phone: 0161 531 6641

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