A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost Estimator

Environmental Site Assessment

Chances are you were thinking about purchasing or rezoning a property, and you were required  to conduct a Phase I ESA. If you have no idea what a Phase I ESA is, it is used as a tool to ensure  due diligence before you purchase a property and can prevent a bad investment. An ESA is put  

in place to help you make the right decisions. Some people think of ESAs as a burden when it  actually reduces the amount of risk you’re taking as a buyer. An ESA is an excellent way to gain  assurance on your purchase.  

What does ESA stand for? 

An ESA is short for Environmental Site Assessment. Depending on  your Canadian province, an ESA has alternate names. In British Columbia, an ESA is also known  as a PSI or a Preliminary Site Investigation. There are different phases/stages to an  environmental assessment. To summarize, the first phase (Phase I) involves a non-intrusive  investigation that includes four steps according to CSA Z768-01: 

i. Records review 

ii. Site visit 

iii. Interviews  

iv. Evaluation and reporting 

A Phase II can only be conducted when contamination is known or suspected. Phase III goes  hand in hand with remediation and usually occurs once the extent of contamination is known.  For more information about ESA, click here. 

Read Also: A comprehensive Checklist of Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

When discussing Phase I ESA, a common question is how much will it cost? Considering all other  expenses involved in purchasing a property, it is understandable why this question is invariably  asked. The good news is that the cost of Phase I is less variable than that of Phase II.  

An excellent way to anticipate the cost of a Phase I ESA is to estimate how much time would be  required for the consultant to conduct their due diligence.  

1. How old is your property? The age of your property matters because lead paint and  asbestos were commonly used in the 1900s and are harmful to people, living things and  the environment. On the other hand, the older the property, the more records to  review. 

2. What are some past businesses that were on-site? Remember that the purpose of an  ESA is to determine if there is a possibility of soil or groundwater contamination.  Therefore, businesses that use heavy metals, petroleum, pesticides, or any hazardous  materials would need a deeper investigation. An automobile repair shop, a gas station,  any fueling station, a manufacturer of products, and dry cleaners are all examples of  businesses that pose high risks. Again, more time will be spent reviewing records and in  evaluations.  

3. What area/zone is your property located in? If your property is in a primarily residential neighbourhood, the potential for contamination is the lowest. If your property is a  vacant/agricultural lot that has been adequately maintained over the years, then it is 

likely that there will be a minimal chance of contamination. On the contrary, if your  property is vacant land used as a junkyard where metal scraps were disposed of, fueling  trailers were stored, or an industrial storage yard existed, there is more cause for  concern. If your property is in a heavy industrial area, where the surrounding properties  have multiple ESAs, more time will be needed to review records and evaluate the  property. 

While the points mentioned above can vary the cost slightly, the search request we send  usually come at a fixed range of prices that are accounted for in our quotes. Therefore, the  price change is based primarily on time spent. It is essential to keep in mind that the prominent variability in cost comes from the size of the property, the number of properties and if there are  any travel costs associated.  

4. How big is your property? The total area of the property has a significant impact on cost.  However, it is not necessarily a one-to-one scale. For example, vacant land that is 4  acres can cost less than a commercial building with three floors in a 3-acre lot. The  number of floors and rooms in a building increases the time spent during the site visit,  increasing the price of your Phase I ESA. 

5. How many properties? We’ve had ample experience with one client requesting an ESA  for six units at once. Our price is based on the lots having different addresses. Then there is a more significant jump in cost. The city treats our search requests as individual  requests for each lot, and we cannot send one request for all the lots. For example, a  single request to the city is allowed if you’re requesting an ESA for Lots 1-5, Block 20,  Plan XYZ123. However, if you’re requesting an ESA for Lot 1, Block 20, Plan XYZ123 and  Lot 10, Block 20, Plan ABC789, those would have to be separate requests to the city.  

6. Where is your property? The location of your property is another major cost. The  further it is from the consultant’s primary office location, the more your ESA will cost.  For example, inspecting a property that is a 3-acre vacant lot anywhere in Edmonton has  no travel costs associated. However, inspecting a 3-acre vacant lot in Hinton will defer in  price. 

Considering all these factors, an ESA can cost anywhere from $2000 to $5000 for an average  property. For multiple or large properties, an ESA can range from $4000 to $10000. To find out  how much your property will cost, contact us at 780-729-7325!

Ataur Rahman

President at prycoglobal
Ataur Rahman is the president at Pryco Global Inc (PRYCO). He has more than a decade of experience in the leadership role, majorly into Oil & Energy and Heavy Civil & Commercial Construction Projects. He has turned around a couple of loss-making businesses unit into profit centers through effective Cost Management, Process Improvement, Business Strategy Realignment, Reorganizing Organizational Structure.
Ataur Rahman

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