Site Improvements

Why A Dry Utility Consultant?

One of the key consultants in land development is the civil engineer, who is responsible for the design of the grading, utilities, and street improvements.  With respect to the utilities, I have found that the civil engineer will design the “wet” utilities, which would consist of the water, sewer, and storm drains.  But more often than not, the design of the “dry” utilities – electric, cable, gas, telephone – is typically completed by a dry utility specialist.

It seems that one of the primary reasons for this specialized consultant is that these dry utilities involve the coordination with a variety of utility providers, such as SDG&E, PG&E, SoCal Gas, Southern California Telephone, and Cox Cable.  I think most developers and builders have found that these dry utility consultants have long-standing working relationships with these utility companies and understand the coordination nuances.  As a result, I often see a budget line item for a dry utility consultant.

While the wet utilities will have their own trenches for water/sewer/storm drain, it is common that these dry utilities will be in a joint trench.  The dry utility consultant will provide the design for this joint trench and coordinate with each utility company when installation occurs.  The design also includes the coordination of above-ground items such as transformer boxes and street lights.  I have heard that these dry utility plans can either be a separate set of plans or folded in with the civil engineer’s improvement plans.

It seems that most market areas have these dry utility consultants.  I think most builders have found that their assistance and coordination with the utility providers is money well spent.

Please feel free to share your comments and questions with us below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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