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How to get a utility pole added or moved. The dirty details.

By
Home Builder with Zeus Construction MA CS-114391

About every other project I'm involved in requires either a new utility pole or the replacement or relocation of an existing one.

Let me say this up front: Getting a utility pole placed or moved can take six months or longer.

What are you trying to accomplish?

I've had situations where a pole was smack dab in the middle of a proposed driveway. Other times a new pole was needed to reach a new home (typically 150' is the maximum distance they will allow line to run without a pole) and I've even had a pole needing replacement because it was too short.

Alternatives

Since the process of getting a utility pole placed or moved takes so long, it really pays to try and develop a workaround. In one of those middle-of-the-driveway situations, I was able to relocate the driveway on the plans by 12' and place an easement on the neighboring property (luckily I owned both properties). Other times I've reoriented the house footprint on the lot to change the location of the driveway. Sometimes a workaround is feasible but often you have to move forward with the pole work.

First, find out who owns the pole. You may be surprised that it isn't the company who's service you're trying to get. The phone company may own the pole and the electric company hangs their lines on them. Sometimes its the other way around. Either way, the best way to do this is to look on the pole itself. There will normally be a metal plate nailed to the pole with the pole number and the company's name. If you don't see one on your pole, look up and follow the wires to nearby poles. One of those should have their info.

Contact the owner of the pole. Dialing the 800# customer service line is the best starting point. When you get through to a live person tell them what you're trying to do and ask for the engineering or construction department. They should transfer you to that department or give you their direct number.

When you speak with the engineering or construction department, start a job ticket and tell them all the specifics about what you're trying to get done. WRITE DOWN YOUR TICKET/REFERENCE #! You will use this in all future communication with the utility regarding this work. The ticket will then get assigned to an actual person within a week or so and that person typically will reach out to you initially. Try and get a direct call back phone number for the department at this time. Having the direct phone number will save you so much time over the next few months!

Reach back out on your request within a week. Your only objective with this call is to speak with the person your case has been assigned to. Call back directly into the construction/engineering department. Once you've got your contact on the phone, be nice to them! They will be in charge of coordinating the whole process and they are your main contact for the next six months or more. If you can, get a site visit scheduled while on this call. If not, ask when you can call back and schedule it.

Schedule the site visit as soon as possible. This means calling your contact back until you get a site visit scheduled. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Open up your schedule for the site visit. Tell them you'll meet them any time, any day. Until the site visit is completed your case is at a standstill.

Attend the site visit. The site visit will be conducted by a different person from your contact. They will be a field tech from the engineering department. This person will also be assigned to your case from beginning to end. Try and get their contact info! Ask when they expect to have the drawings completed.

Follow up, follow up, follow up. Once the site visit is complete, they will go back to their office and design the work. They use the site visit information along with their own internal maps and diagrams to work up a solution to your situation. This process can take several weeks or more to get done.

Follow up on the drawings. You did get the field worker's phone number or email, right? Reach out to them directly and ask for a copy of the drawings when they're done. Sometimes they'll give it to you sometimes they won't. It doesn't matter. You've prompted them to move your job along. If the drawings aren't done, ask for a ballpark on when you can expect them - and FOLLOW UP when they say it'll be ready.

Follow up on the completed drawings. If they will send you a copy of their drawings now's your chance to review what they intend to do. Look at the drawings and make it's right. Sometimes they make mistakes and this is your chance to fix it. If the installation is wrong you may have to go back to the end of the line and wait another six months! This has happened to me before.

Permits. They will be taking care of permitting around this time too. Be sure the permitting process is underway once the drawings are completed.

Follow up with your contact to be sure the work order gets sent to their construction team. You can call the field worker for this or your main contact. Once the order is sent to construction, it's only a matter of time before it gets done. There isn't anything you can do to get the work expedited.

Once with the construction team, it'll take 1-3 months to get on their schedule.

Be there at the site for the installation. You are more familiar with your project than anyone else. You can answer questions and make decisions so they can keep working. Have water on hand for the workers, make sure the area is clear and have everyone stay out of their way.

That's it! Enjoy your new utility pole!

Posted by

Cameron Bagherpour
Builder, Developer, Investor
Zeus Construction
Canton, MA 02021
339-204-1004

Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
602-380-4886

Hi Cameron this is a really interesting post.  I've never really thought about the mechanics of just how to get a utility pole moved. It's a lot more time and effort than I imagined. I'll never look at a utility pole the same - ever!

May 16, 2023 03:03 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Cameron,
What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

May 19, 2023 07:15 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Oswego, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Cameron. You nailed it. The key is follow-up. Failure to do so will get your request lost in the pile! Enjoy your day.

May 20, 2023 04:58 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Cameron Bagherpour ,

I've never really thought about the mechanics of just how to get a utility pole moved, but can see persistence is the key with constant follow-up! Thank you for a very interesting post and glad to see Carol Williams featured in her Saturday Second Cance Series!

May 20, 2023 08:44 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Cameron:

Lots of good learning and advice here. I will never look at a utility pole through the same eyes again.

Jeff

May 20, 2023 01:19 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I've never had a situation yet where a pole needed to be moved - great overview on what would be entailed!

May 20, 2023 01:51 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Some interesting thoughts in the post. Moving a pole is seldom easy to do and more often than not doesn't get moved.

May 20, 2023 06:30 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Agree with others and never a dull moment for a real estate agent. Once again reaffirms why a real estate agent is necessary.

May 21, 2023 08:57 AM