Digging disaster ends up in costly renovation for Calgary couple

Click to play video: 'Calgary couple on hook for thousands of dollars following digging disaster'
Calgary couple on hook for thousands of dollars following digging disaster
A Calgary couple and their contractor are fighting another company after they said it failed to locate the lines in their yard properly, resulting in a costly fix. Tomasia DaSilva reports on what happened and the warning it sends to all homeowners – Aug 21, 2023

A Calgary couple and their contractor are in a battle with a ‘line locating’ company following a digging mishap that lead to a costly fix.

Susanita de Diego hired Argyle Construction to reimagine her indoor and outdoor space at the end of 2022. Owner Ron Gibson said he then contacted the proper authorities to come and mark the utility lines in both the front and back yards.

“We called the City of Calgary and we called Alberta One Call (Utility Safety Partners),” he told Global News. “They located electrical and gas.”

Gibson said he was then told to call another company to locate any water and sewer lines, so he called 2nd Call Locating.

“We called 2nd Call which we’ve actually used a few times in the past,” Gibson said. “They came out and assured us where the lines were and where they weren’t.”

Story continues below advertisement

“Unfortunately, where they said the lines weren’t — they were.”

Gibson said his crew only found that out after they started digging.

“It was not until weeks later that we discovered that we had been through both the water and the sewer,” he pointed out.

“We were without water for 21 days,” de Diego said. “And in order to repair the lines the excavation took weeks. It was a big mess. We had two beautiful evergreen trees that had to be removed to do the excavation to do the lines.

“The cost of the repair for the landscaping and also the repair work that had to be done — came to just under $60,000.”

Aftermath of dig disaster
Aftermath of dig disaster. Courtesy: Susanita de Diego

De Diego said she contacted the company and spoke with president and CEO Rocky Pooke.

Story continues below advertisement

“He accepted no responsibility,” she said.

“Said he is not responsible for undetectable lines. I asked, ‘Well what makes them undetectable?’ and he said, ‘Our equipment wouldn’t be able to find them.'”

“They said the back was clear,” Gibson said he was told. “All they said was, ‘Our equipment didn’t pick it up and it wasn’t our fault.’”

Global News reached out to 2nd Call which told us: “Only locatable lines (lines that will take a signal that is readable and traceable by 2nd Call’s onsite locating equipment) are located and marked out.”

Pooke’s statement went on to say that some service lines are simply not locatable.

2nd Call also said it’s a secondary underground line locating services and expressly indicates every dig should have completed locate requests from other parties, as well as signed-off requests for its services — which it implied did not happen.

“It should be noted that 2nd Call denies any liability for the failure of a homeowner or their contractor(s) to perform the necessary primary services locating (as expressly stated by 2nd Call) and to adhere to the terms of service that would allow them to rely on 2nd Call locating services.”

As well as de Diego and Gibson, Utility Safety Partners (Alberta One Call) has also confirmed to Global News it was contacted several times as were their utility partners.

Story continues below advertisement

“We did everything the correct way,” de Diego said.

Yard during excavation
Yard during excavation. Courtesy: Susanita de Diego

The pair has asked 2nd Call to try and recover some of the added costs through its insurance. But they said they were told 2nd Call doesn’t have insurance coverage. Global News asked Pooke about that but did not hear back.

De Diego also reached out to her insurance company, which agreed to pay about $10k of the cost, while Gibson said his insurer told him “he had done nothing wrong” and wasn’t liable.

Gibson said he has not passed on the extra costs to de Diego yet — even though he said he also “can’t afford to eat it”.

“I can’t leave my client stranded like that,” he said. “As Argyll Construction we feel obligated to help the client fix what we helped to wreck.”

Story continues below advertisement

“But should I be at cost for that? I don’t know.”

Both are now considering court action, but are still hoping 2nd Call will have a change of heart.

De Diego said she came to Global News hoping to not only get the money back, but also to warn others.

“Yes of course we’d like to get our money back, but people need to know that this could happen to them,” she said.

“They need to know they need to get the proper insurance in place, but they need to know they need to hire the right company too.”

Damage done to yard
Damage done to yard. Courtesy: Susanita de Diego

Sponsored content