Excavator digging home

Before You Dig Australia Explained

In this article, Canstar Blue runs through what ‘Before You Dig’ is, how they can help you identify safe digging practices, as well as lodging enquiries. As the name suggests, we’ll uncover why it’s best to find out what’s beneath the surface before you start digging.

If you plan to build a home, or you’re about to renovate, there are certain limitations on where and how low you can dig. This is because your property could be sitting above important underground infrastructure, like electrical cabling or gas pipelines. In an effort to keep people from damaging these networks and potentially injuring themselves, an organisation was set up to protect Australia’s infrastructure assets to ensure essential services like water, natural gas, electricity and telecommunications are not disrupted – Before You Dig Australia.

Read on to see the different ways in which Before You Dig – formally known as Dial Before You Dig – can help you during construction. We also list the organisations contact details below.

What is Before You Dig Australia (BYDA)?

Before You Dig Australia (BYDA) is a free referral service that provides information on the whereabouts of underground infrastructure, such as cables, pipes and wires. It is designed to prevent damage and interruptions to energy and telecommunication networks that provide vital services to homes and businesses across Australia.

BYDA has a direct partnership with most Australian underground asset owners like Telstra or Ausgrid. BYDA Members register their infrastructural assets, so home or business owners can avoid damaging infrastructure when certain projects are being undertaken, like building a driveway or fence, landscaping or digging a new pool.

Before You Dig Australia originated as ‘Perth One Call’ in Western Australia in 1987, before expanding into sperate Dial Before You Dig (DBYD) entities across all states and territories. Recently, however, the service streamlined to one national organisation known as Before You Dig Australia.

How deep can you dig before calling BYDA?

There are various circumstances at play to ensure safe digging practices, including the location, scope of works being carried out and the type of underground infrastructure. Therefore, the depth of digging will vary case by case, as the alignment of cables and pipes cannot be pinpointed to an exact location. This means there is a Duty of Care in place for those undertaking the works, no matter the size of the project.

Is Before You Dig a free service?

Yes, Before You Dig is a free service that is available for any enquiries related to building, excavating or landscaping work that involves digging. Whether it’s a large commercial project or a small home renovation, a free enquiry should be lodged before commencing any works. For some jobs, the relevant infrastructure owner may charge a fee for providing on-site assistance regarding the location of assets (i.e. cabling and pipes).

Home and business owners can also download a free guide called, ‘Best Practice Guide’ via the website.

Is Before You Dig mandatory?

Underground pipes dug up in yard

A Before You Dig enquiry must be lodged prior to starting any excavation or landscaping works. Enquiries should be lodged at least one business day before starting your project to ensure adequate information on the surrounding infrastructure is provided. These are mandatory requirements that are enforced by state and federal legislation.

According to the Before You Dig Australia website, home and business owners may be also held financially liable if there are found to be any damages to network infrastructure which have occurred as a result of their construction.

How to contact Before You Dig Australia

There are a few ways for homeowners to contact Before You Dig Australia:

  • Online at byda.com.au
  • On the app via the App Store or Google Play

Before You Dig Checklist

Here’s a summary of how to ensure it’s safe to dig:

  1. Contact Before You Dig well before carrying out construction or renovation works
  2. Lodge an enquiry to Before You Dig (either you or the tradesperson)
  3. Once you receive the plan, exercise a Duty of Care when working around network assets
  4. If you require further assistance, contact the owner of the infrastructure directly
  5. Consider using a Certified Locator to assist you in locating any assets if you are still unsure
  6. Keep a record of all information relating to the works in case of potential damage or disruption
  7. Don’t forget that you’re liable for any damage caused to assets regardless if an enquiry has been lodged to Before You Dig

It’s important to remember to never assume you know where underground infrastructure is. Not only can you be held financially liable for damaging assets, you can also potentially harm yourself and others in doing so. That’s why it’s best to make an enquiry with Before You Dig by obtaining a free plan. Finally, just by lodging an enquiry, you’re still required to follow the Duty of Care, which outlines your obligations when carrying out works in or near Australia’s infrastructure networks and assets.

If in any doubt, visit the website for more information or contact them directly.

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Image credits: ungvar/Shutterstock.com, Oleg Kopyov/Shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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