How Much Does A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost?

By - Chris Barnard
Last Updated - February 20th, 2024 4:50 PM
property-under-environmental-site-assessment

When buying or leasing a commercial property, a phase 1 ESA is the first order of business. But if there’s one question that’s common among potential buyers and tenants, it is about the phase 1 environmental site assessment cost. 

And this is for obvious reasons, since you’re the one responsible for due diligence as the owner or occupant of the property.

You see, it is commonplace for properties to have chemicals and other environmental contaminants, something you’ll need to eradicate before moving ahead with development or occupancy. As such, it’s better to spend a little on phase 1 environmental site assessment than to burn your pocket on big-ticket decontamination projects later. 

So, what’s the phase 1 environmental site assessment cost? 

Well, a short answer is anywhere between $1,800 and $6,500 on average. 

However, the exact cost of phase 1 ESA will depend on various factors. 

In case you’re wondering how much you’ll pay, I’ve compiled everything about ESA costs along with my own pricing insights.

So read on and find out everything about phase 1 assessment cost.

What is a phase 1 environmental site assessment? 

Before we discuss the details of phase 1 ESA’s cost, it is important that you’re acquainted with the basics of these assessments. 

To begin with, a phase 1 environmental site assessment is a standard due diligence inspection essential during all commercial real estate transactions. Herein, certified environmental assessment professionals conduct multiple tests to determine the property’s past and present environmental use and potential negative impact. 

For instance, one such assessment will follow ASTM E1527 standards and gather complete information about a building or construction site’s environmental history. This, in turn, will help confirm whether or not there’s any chemical contamination, to what extent the place is contaminated, and the risks involved. 

When it comes to making crucial decisions regarding how to proceed with a real estate deal and your upcoming project, these assessments are significant. That’s because, as a buyer or tenant, you’ll have complete clarity regarding the existing environmental contamination as well as the costs involved to decontaminate. 

As such, I strongly suggest you get a phase 1 ESA before you go ahead with any commercial property deal. 

Want to know more about phase 1 ESA?

You can go through my blog – Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Checklist: Here’s What It Covers.

Schedule Your Phase 1 ESA Today!

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Phase 1 environmental site assessment cost breakdown

Coming back to the key question about the cost of phase 1 environmental site assessment, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,800 to $6,500. 

But as I said earlier, this is an average cost of phase 1 ESA, and the exact amount that you’ll pay may differ entirely. 

For instance, suppose you’re looking to purchase a standard 2000-3000 square feet commercial property in downtown Port Orange. Now, a certified environmental assessment professional like myself can charge you between $2500 and $3000 for conducting a phase 1 ESA for such a property. 

Similarly, let’s say you’re buying a 5-acre land to develop a commercial facility in Palm Coast. Here, the cost of ESA for the land can be on the upper end, i.e., $6,500. 

Moreover, depending on the location, size, and age of the property or land, the environmental site assessment cost can even go up to $10,000. 

So, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for calculating the cost of environmental site assessment. Meaning the exact cost will depend on a range of factors, not the least of which are the location and type of property being assessed. 

Not sure how much a phase 1 environmental site assessment will cost you? 

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Which factors decide the cost of phase 1 environmental site assessment? 

As we just discussed, there isn’t a single average cost of phase 1 ESA, and the amount that you’ll be charged will be determined by multiple factors. 

For instance, the cost of detecting environmental hazards in a 2000-square-foot property in Orlando can be 5-10 percent more expensive than in Port Orange. 

Also, the size of your property, the level of contamination, the type of inspection professional or agency, etc., will also impact the overall cost. 

Curious about what’s more to these factors are and how they influence the total cost of inspection? 

Well, let’s have a look. 

#1. Property’s size 

The most important factor that determines how much you’ll pay for a phase 1 environmental site assessment is the size of your property. And it’s based on a straightforward logic where the larger the area of inspection is, the more you can expect to pay. 

For instance, the cost of assessing a 2000-square-foot commercial space will never be the same as that of a 5000-square-foot area. That’s because the larger space will need more time and resources for assessment and thus will cost you more. 

This logic also applies to commercial land, where you pay more for a larger square footage. 

Note: Some smaller properties are more expensive to assess than larger ones

Based on my experience as an environmental assessment professional, I can say that it is not always larger properties that cost more to assess. You see, sometimes smaller properties might need more extensive examination than larger ones. 

For instance, let’s say you’re buying a 2-acre developed commercial facility that’s been operational for the last 10 years. Now, assessing this facility will be more rigorous than an undeveloped or newly developed 5-acre facility, given the greater changes of chemical contamination in the former. 

Thus, the smaller facility, in this case, will cost you more than the larger one. 

#2. Location of the property 

Another cost determinant of an environmental site assessment is the location of your property. And just like property size, this is also based on an operational factor where an environmental professional or inspector has to travel to your location to conduct an assessment. 

For instance, as an inspector based out of Teal St. Port Orange, my inspection charges may differ between downtown and outer Port Orange. That’s because while the downtown area is closer to my location, I’ll be spending more time and resources to travel to the outer areas for inspection. 

So, you can expect the cost to be high or low based on how far your property is located from the inspection professional. 

In the same way, if your property is located in a metropolitan area or in the main business district, you can expect a higher cost. After all, these areas are expensive to operate in, and the assessment charges of your nearest inspection company will be based on their overall operational costs. 

#3. History of property’s use

The cost of phase 1 environmental site assessment is also determined by the history of the property in question. Here’s how: 

Let’s suppose you’re in talks to buy a manufacturing facility over three decades old. 

Now, the fact that this property has been used for manufacturing for years means there are more chances of chemical contamination than others. So, as an ESA professional, I’ll conduct a more thorough assessment, looking at every nook and cranny in detail.

Also, I’ll be reviewing various historical reports of the property, which in this case will be reports dating back to thirty years. Further, if the property has been used for multiple purposes, there will be different types of reports to review. 

Not to mention, some reports can also be missing, damaged, or generally hard to review, increasing my overall efforts. 

So, with all these things together, the cost of ESA can be on the higher end. 

Similarly, if the same property was newly constructed and built on previously unoccupied land, there’d be little history of environmental use. And this, in turn, would mean less time and effort and, consequently, a lower cost of assessment. 

Read further: A Complete Commercial Building Inspection Checklist For 2024

#4. Extent of available records 

The total number of available records of the property’s environmental use also affects the total cost of ESA. 

For instance, let’s say that the building you’ve bought is old and has been used for the last many years for various purposes. Herein, chances are that some of the older records are either lost, damaged, or incomplete. 

Now, it isn’t impossible to review the history of such a property. Moreover, assessment teams like ours are equipped with the skills and tools needed to analyze and understand partial records. 

Nevertheless, this increases the time, effort, and resources needed to carry out the environmental site assessment and thus increases the cost. 

#5. Existing condition of the property 

Like the property’s history, its existing condition also determines the type and extent of assessment and, thus, the total cost. 

Wondering how? 

Well, let’s assume that you’ve bought a commercial facility that was previously used to store hazardous chemicals, or it used to be a gas station. 

In this case, I’ll undertake an in-depth assessment of the property, which might also involve an additional workforce. Herein, my team and I will check every area of the property to detect chemical contaminants and other environmental hazards. 

For instance, we will use advanced tools to examine areas and things such as storage units or tanks, basements, potentially hazardous waste materials, etc.

So, the cost of assessing this property will be invariably higher than one that’s new and has never been used to store hazardous substances. 

#6. Skills and expertise of the ESA professional 

Lastly, how skilled or experienced an environmental assessment processional or team is will also determine how much they charge you. 

You see, when conducting a phase 1 or phase 2 environmental site assessment, the skills of the professionals involved are key to the quality of results. 

For instance, professionals with beginner-level skills and experience are also licensed to carry out ESAs. And while they know how to do their job, you can’t expect the same level of quality and consistency that an expert with decades of experience brings. 

In fact, this is one of the reasons why existing commercial property owners agree on the importance of hiring seasoned experts. 

And it goes without saying that ESA quotes are also based on the inspection professionals’ skills. Meaning you can expect a higher cost for getting the services of a highly experienced professional and vice versa. 

You might also want to read – How Much Does A Commercial Building Inspection Cost

Environmental site assessment cost: Frequently asked questions

How much does a phase 1 environmental site assessment cost in Florida? 

The average cost of phase 1 environmental site assessment in Florida is between $1800 and $6500. However, this is simply average, and the exact cost you’ll incur can be different. 

For instance, depending on its age, history, and condition, an ESA for a 1500-2000 square feet property can cost you between $1800 and $3200 in Florida. 

Similarly, you can expect to pay between $3000 and $6500 for a Florida property sized 2000-5000 square feet. 

Also, the cost of Phase 1 ESA will be completely different for undeveloped land or recently developed properties with no past environmental history. 

Who pays for a phase 1 environmental site assessment? 

If you’re a buyer looking to purchase a commercial property, then you’ll have to bear the expense of phase 1 ESA. 

You see, existing owners are not obligated to conduct an ESA from their own expenses.

Nevertheless, it is essential to do your own due diligence and have a complete picture of the extent of environmental contamination. That’s because, as the new owner, it will be your responsibility to ensure occupants, workers, and visitors are all safe from potential hazards. 

Also, if you’re an existing owner looking to seek refinancing from your bank or lender, you might have to get a phase 1 ESA from your expense. 

How much does a phase 2 environmental site assessment cost in Florida? 

The cost of phase 2 environmental site assessment in Florida starts from $5,000 and goes all the way up to $100,000. 

A Phase 2 ESA is an advanced-level inspection conducted in certain areas where environmental contamination has been detected. You can think of it as a follow-up assessment to determine the extent of contamination. 

So, depending on the areas where contamination is found and the extent of follow-up assessments required, the cost can range from a few thousand dollars to a hundred grand. 

Who pays for a phase 2 environmental site assessment? 

Like phase 1 assessments, buyers are the ones who usually bear the cost of phase 2 ESAs.

However, as a matter of fact, it’s the existing owner’s responsibility to detect contamination and ensure decontamination. Meaning you can renegotiate your deal by asking the existing owner to reduce the cost of assessment from the final closing amount. 

You can even have a pre-assessment agreement with the existing owner where you both agree to bear part of the total cost. 

But that said, it’s entirely up to you to negotiate with the property owner as to who bears the cost. 

At the same time, property owners looking to refinance will have to pay for phase 2 environmental site assessments completely from their expenses. 

Who conducts phase 1 and phase 2 environmental site assessments? 

Both phase 1 and phase 2 ESAs should be conducted by licensed inspectors who qualify the criteria set by ASTM for Environmental Professionals. 

Also, they should adhere to the standards set by ASTM, namely ASTM Standards E1527 for phase 1 and ASTM Standards E1903 for phase 2 assessments. 

Is an environmental site assessment mandatory? 

No, an ESA is not legally required. 

Nonetheless, it is a legal requirement for property owners to create safe conditions for everyone who uses the property. And the only way to do so is by knowing the extent of chemical contamination through an ESA. 

Meaning you’ll still need to get an environmental site assessment. 

Furthermore, banks and other financial institutions might also require you to get an ESA as a condition for loan approval or refinancing. 

You might also want to read – Pre Purchase Building Inspection: What To Know Before Buying

Final words 

As you can see, the cost of phase 1 environmental site assessment isn’t fixed. So, the exact cost that you might pay as a property buyer or owner will depend on a wide range of factors. 

For instance, where your property is located, how large it is, what its history of use is, and its existing condition will all decide the total cost of ESA. 

Want to know the exact cost that you’ll incur or need an expert to conduct an ESA?

You can get in touch with us!

At FCBI, we’re seasoned environmental assessment professionals with over two decades of expertise. And we’ve got both phase 1 and phase 2 ESA requirements covered on a budget. 

You can also find our commercial building inspectors in JacksonvilleMelbourneOrlandoSt AugustinePalm CoastDaytona BeachPort OrangeSawgrass, and more.

You can also read: A Complete Property Condition Assessment Cost Breakdown

Chris Barnard

Hi there! I am Chris Barnard, a licensed building inspector and the founder of Florida Commercial Building Inspectors. With over two decades in the inspection industry, I’ve delivered thousands of commercial and residential inspections across various states. During all these years, I’ve developed detailed insights on the ins and outs of building inspections, something I look forward to sharing with you through my blogs.

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