If you’ve been required to complete a Phase I ESA or Phase II ESA, the first looming question you have is… how much does it cost?
First of all, if you don’t know the differences between Phase I and Phase II ESA, you can read about those here.
The cost of Phase I ESA
During a Phase I ESA, an environmental professional will collect historical and environmental documents about the property/surrounding area, talking to current or past occupants, and perform a physical site inspection.
You can get an idea of the range of costs, however it hugely depends on several factors that need to be taken into consideration. The average cost of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment typically ranges between $1,500 and $6,000, however can be more. If it’s less, just be careful. If a consultant is competing on cost, they may be cutting corners that will end up costing you more in the end. Spend more than $6K – you may be overpaying. The expenses alone for the consulting company are around $1,000, not to mention the time it takes to complete the assessment. Therefore anything that is less than $1.5K – red flag!
The cost of Phase II ESA
Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment reports are sometimes required when a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) is found during the Phase I ESA. Phase 2 Environmental Assessments consist of a more thorough analysis, therefore are more costly than a Phase I ESA. Some of the items that could be included during a Phase II ESA is collecting soil samples to screen for chemical or metal contamination, conducted by drill rig, hydraulic push, hand auger or backhoe, depending on site specific conditions. These assessments can also include sampling of groundwater and surface water. Therefore, the cost for a Phase 2 ESA varies widely depending on the site specifics. Factors like the types of analyses needed, drilling methods, access to the subsurface, groundwater testing, overhead constraints, etc., are all taken into consideration. Just the due diligence on a Phase 2 ESA can range from $4,000 to $25,000, and that does not include the costs to make the property compliant after you receive the results from the Phase II ESA.
A few pointers
As you can see, the range is wide. In order for a professional to provide an accurate estimate, provide them with all the materials they ask for up front in order to avoid unwanted surprises (and costs) later down the road.
Be sure to ask for the specifics of the bid and cost breakdown to understand the reasoning behind the cost. Ask questions about the consultant’s qualifications (only an Environmental Professional, or EP, is legally licensed to complete a Phase I ESA), if the company has ever been sued before, and how many years of experience they have in the field.