Hiring an Underground Service Locator in Sydney – Everything You Need to Know


Are you planning a construction project, or any kind of excavation work in Sydney? If so, it’s essential to hire an Underground Service Locator to ensure the safety and integrity of underground pipes and cables. 

In this article, we will explore the role of an Underground Service Locator, how they find underground services, when you need their services, the cost involved, and how you can make the process more efficient.

What is an Underground Service Locator?

An Underground Service Locator, also known as a Utility Locator, Pipe Locator, Cable Locator, Line Locator, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Technician, Underground Service Marking, Underground Service Detection, Service Search, or Underground Service Mapping, is a highly skilled professional specialising in detecting and identifying underground pipes and cables.

Equipped with advanced locating instruments and extensive training, they play a crucial role in preventing damage to vital utility infrastructure during excavation activities.

Uncovering the Techniques: How They Find Pipes and Cables

Underground Service Locators employ various techniques to detect underground services. The primary methods include

1. Electromagnetic Service Locator

One of the main techniques used by Underground Service Locators is the Electromagnetic Service Locator. 

This method involves the use of a transmitter and a receiver. 

The transmitter emits an electromagnetic signal at a specific frequency, which is transmitted into conductive materials like steel or copper pipes to create a traceable electromagnetic field. 

The receiver, finely tuned to detect the electromagnetic frequency emitted by the transmitter, is used to locate the underground services. 


By analysing the strength and direction of the signal, the locator can accurately pinpoint the location of the pipes or cables made of conductive materials.

Underground Service Locating Techniques

2. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

Ground Penetrating Radar GPR Service Locating Sydney Geoscope

Another valuable tool utilised by Underground Service Locators is Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

GPR works by emitting radar waves into the ground using an antenna mounted on a wheeled cart or handheld device. 

These radar waves penetrate the ground and bounce back when they encounter subsurface structures or changes in the ground composition. 

By analysing the characteristics of the reflected waves, such as their amplitude and travel time, the locator can identify the presence and location of underground utilities, including pipes, cables, and other objects.

If you are interested to learn how GPR works to find underground utilities, this article is for you!

Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a non-destructive geophysical method used to detect subsurface objects and structures buried below the ground, such as pipes and cables....

The Components of a typical GPR System

Control Unit: The control unit serves as the brain of the GPR system. It houses the necessary electronics, display screens, and controls to operate and interpret the data collected by the GPR.

Antenna: The antenna is the main component that emits and receives radar waves. It transmits the radar pulses into the ground and captures the reflected signals. 

The type and frequency of the antenna can vary depending on the specific application and the depth of the target utilities.

Control Unit component of GPR
Antenna component of GPR

Data Storage and Analysis: GPR systems are equipped with data storage capabilities to record the collected radar data. This data can then be analysed and processed using specialised software to generate subsurface images or profiles that depict the location and characteristics of underground utilities.

Display Monitor component of GPR

Display and Interpretation: GPR systems have built-in displays that allow the locator to visualise the collected data in real-time. 

The locator can interpret the displayed information to identify underground utilities and make informed decisions during the locating process.

By utilising the advanced technology of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and its various components, Underground Service Locators can accurately detect and map underground utilities, including pipes and cables. This helps to prevent accidental damage and ensure the safety and efficiency of excavation and construction projects.

How do you know if you need an Underground Service Locator?

If you’re planning any excavation or ground-penetrating work in Sydney, it is your responsibility to ensure the protection of underground services. This applies to both private and public areas.

Private Areas

Even if you’re digging on your own property, there’s a possibility that underground mains or public services might pass through it. Damaging these services, especially power or gas lines, can lead to serious injury or financial losses. Therefore, it’s crucial to hire an Underground Service Locator to identify and protect these services.

Public Areas

In public areas or commercial settings such as universities, hospitals, or phone towers, it becomes even more critical to safeguard underground services. Failure to take appropriate precautions and interrupting someone else’s service can result in legal liabilities, financial damages, and potential harm to individuals

Counting the Cost: What to Expect

How much does it cost to hire an Underground Service Locator in Sydney?

When hiring an Underground Service Locator in Sydney, the cost can vary depending on several factors, including the scope of the project, the complexity of the site, and the specific services required. However, it is helpful to have a general understanding of the typical cost range involved.

On average, Underground Service Locators in Sydney charge between $140 and $200 per hour for their services. Keep in mind that this hourly rate may vary slightly among different companies and professionals. 

Additionally, it is common for Underground Service Locators to have a minimum call-out fee, which is typically equivalent to a few hours of work. This fee helps cover the costs associated with mobilising equipment and personnel to the site.


For straightforward locating tasks at a residential property, such as identifying where services cross the front boundary for a new fence installation, an experienced locator can typically complete the job in less than 2 hours

Geoscope Utility Detection Services being present on-site

However, in more complex scenarios or when working in public areas, industrial settings, or commercial properties, the cost may be higher due to additional factors to consider and potential challenges. 

In such cases, it is recommended to contact Geoscope Locating or Geoscope Utility Detection Services Pty Ltd directly for a tailored estimate based on your specific project requirements.

By obtaining a detailed quote, you can have a clearer understanding of the costs involved and make informed decisions when hiring an Underground Service Locator in Sydney.

If you’re interested in receiving a quote for Underground Service Locator services in Sydney, you can easily request one by clicking the link below.

Request a Quote from Geoscope Locating

For the most efficient way for our team to deliver your quote on time. It will only take two minutes to fill out the form.

Saving Time and Money: Tips to make the process more efficient and cost-effective

To expedite the underground service locating process and save time and money, consider the following steps:

1. Submit a Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) request ahead of time

This allows all the asset owners to respond and provide information about the underground services in the area. DBYD is a free online service that helps you obtain information about utility infrastructure that may be present at your excavation site.

2. Clear the area

Before the locator arrives, remove any building materials or waste that might obstruct access to key areas where the services are located. This will make it easier for the locator to perform their job efficiently.

3. Gather relevant documentation

If possible, gather any existing plans or records of private underground services. This may include as-built plans from past contractors, scanning results from previous locators, or service plans maintained by administrators, facility maintenance teams, landlords, or property managers. Having this information ready can assist the locator in identifying and mapping the underground services more accurately.

By taking these proactive measures, you can help streamline the locating process, minimise potential delays, and ultimately reduce the overall cost of the project.

Ensure Safety and Efficiency with Geoscope Locating

When it comes to hiring an Underground Service Locator in Sydney, you need a reputable and reliable company like Geoscope Locating or Geoscope Utility Detection Services Pty Ltd. With their expertise, advanced equipment, and deep understanding of the local area, they can provide accurate and efficient locating services tailored to your specific needs.

Remember, when planning any excavation or ground-penetrating work, it’s crucial to prioritise the safety of underground services. By engaging the services of a professional Underground Service Locator, you not only comply with legal requirements but also protect yourself, others, and the vital infrastructure that powers our city.

Don’t take chances with underground services—hire a skilled locator today and ensure a successful and incident-free project!

Contact Geoscope

Sydney's most trusted and reliable Underground Service Locator
Picture of Patricia Cupiado

Patricia Cupiado

Co-Author of this Article

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