Categories: Environmental

Phase 1 Environmental Cost? The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Cost

Phase 1 Environmental Cost &
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Cost

A Phase 1 Environmental cost can vary, depending on the region and characteristics of a property. A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment cost (for a typical commercial lot) ranges between $2,000 and $3,500. In fact, some prices can be as high as $6,000. This article clarifies that prices can, and do, vary. And just like all other services, suspiciously low prices can result in errors at the expense of the Client. In fact, due to the lengthiness of these reports, errors can be unnoticeable by Clients. Consequently, errors come to light later down the line, and can cost a fortune to deal with. Nonetheless, this article provides insight on what to expect when purchasing a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. Additionally, this article highlights some do’s and don’ts for purchasing a Phase I ESA Report. Updated August 1, 2019.

Phase I Environmental Report Cost ©creativecommonsstockphotos

Variable Costs of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Report

Property characteristics base the cost for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. The location and size of the property are the main pillars. Some lots require more research. Others require more time and resources to physically inspect. For example, car dealerships can require multiple days to inspect compared to a small office. Other complexities and special requirements also weigh in on Phase I ESA pricing. For instance, some organizations require specific reporting elements above the ASTM Standard.

Price Ranges to Expect in the Year 2019

A Phase I Environmental cost is variable depending on the area and characteristics of a property. Thus, it is not recommended to solely rely on these approximate price ranges. The information below is merely to reference as a tool for learning. To learn how much a Phase I ESA will actually cost on your property, call Geo Forward at (888) 930-6604 for a site specific proposal.

  • A small sized typical commercial lot in the Year 2019 may range between about:
    • $2,000 and $3,000
  • A medium to large sized industrial lot (<1 acre) in the Year 2019 may range between about:
    • $2,500 and $4,500
  • A large scale industrial facility (1 to 5 acres) in the Year 2019 may range between about:
    • $4,500 and $6,500
  • A large sized rural property (>5 acres) in the Year 2019 may range between about:
    • $3,500 and $4,500

As years go on, so does the cost to perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. Factors of price changes overtime are the result of changing ASTM standards, technology, labor and employment costs, industry demand, and more. Moreover, as environmental laws strengthen overtime, the necessity for a proper Phase 1 ESA becomes similarly vital.

Suspiciously Low Phase 1 Environmental Cost – Watch Out!

Whether buying, selling or applying for a loan, Clients tend to be curious about variable pricing, and the comparisons to quality of work. A low-cost or cheap Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment generally entails small budget restrictions, and is subject to short cuts. Thus, the suspiciously low-cost assessments usually perform below the professional standard of care. Under review, the lowest Phase I Environmental Report cost will typically have significant errors and data gaps. And as history has shown, this can result in heavy law suits, unforeseeable remediation, costly agency fees and possible forfeiture.

Earlier this year, geologists were hired to investigate an industrial property, where a major error was discovered in a prior Phase 1 ESA by a different company. There was no surprise to learn the report was sold at a low-cost. The report completely missed a gas station on the lot for over 10 years, and didn’t mention the existing underground tank. Other errors and omissions were also found. This disqualified the report from the CERCLA Innocent Landowner Liability Protection policy. The buyer was mislead by the conclusions of the lower Phase I Environmental Report cost. Consequently, the buyer already purchased the property with a massive amount of liability.

Numerous cases like this arise each week. And they consequently link back to going cheap on the Phase 1 ESA process. For every three price quotes, Clients might find one for about 30% less than the others. This should raise a red flag. Consumers must know that it can actually cost hundreds to thousands above the lowest bidder’s price, just to make a proper Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment.

Phase I Environmental Report Cost Savings ©YanikChauvin

Agency File Review Fees

Another factor which affects the average Phase 1 Environmental Report cost is the ever-changing municipality fee structure for government file reviews. Some local agencies (examples below) charge fees for file recovery and review. Additional fees typically apply for copying, printing and binding.

Most State agencies (examples below) typically don’t charge for file recovery. However, copy and printing fees usually apply.

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Cost


The environmental liabilities, damages and attorney fees that come with a faulty Phase 1 ESA aren’t cheap! And since everyone’s got a lawyer on speed dial these days, it’s best to do the job right the first time, with a proper Phase I Environmental Report. In fact, the industry’s best practice standards advise researching companies before opting for the lowest cost. Although one may be faced with a strict budget, it is generally best to avoid the suspiciously low Phase I Environmental Report cost. Additionally, Geo Forward recommends confirming that a professional geologist or engineer, with a clear license to practice, is in charge of the work to be done.

Forward-Thinking Geologists, Engineers & Contractors!

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