FAQ: Why Should I Avoid a Cheap Phase I ESA?

Risks Associated with a Bargain Phase I ESA

Why should I avoid a cheap or low-cost Phase I ESA?

A Phase I ESA is a tool to protect your investment. Whether you’re refinancing, buying property, or the bank is requiring it, a Phase I shouldn’t go to the cheapest bidder.

During peak real estate season, we get many inquires regarding this question.  People constantly ask if we do Phase I ESAs.  When we tell them we are experts in conducting Phase I ESAs, they ask us how much a Phase I ESA typically costs.  This is a very important question.  It is well known in the Environmental Engineering field that too many firms think they are capable of providing reliable Phase I ESAs.   Too many firms don’t have the experience nor the licensed professional necessary to make the key judgments so critical to the validity of a Phase I Report.

Naturally, the first question you’ll want to ask if you are faced with the need to conduct a property investigation is how much will it cost.  We all want to know what things costs, both in our personal and professional lives. The issue with quickly determining the price is the multitude of variables involved in developing a price quote. So if we receive a call from someone saying “I need a Phase I ESA, how much?”, it is so important to explain to them what is involved, and the precise value of it.

Don’t be fooled by a cheap Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

Consider for a moment that you are on the phone with us right now. You want a cost quote. We provide you with our quote so you can evaluate and compare all the various quotes you have obtained.   Next, you begin to decide who to choose.  As with most things in life, one gets what one pays for, and when it comes to Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, if you pay for a cheap one, you can expect to receive poor quality work.

We think you should avoid picking the lowest bidder and risk receiving a cheap Phase I Environmental Site Assessment:

  • If a company is quoting the cheapest price, they’re cutting corners.  If it’s a bargain-barrel price, don’t expect adequate results. Chances are good it doesn’t adequate cover industry standards, and you might even realize it.  It may be done too hastily, without sufficient research, or without a thorough, complete site inspection. All meaning, your Phase I will be neglecting many major issues without your knowledge. You don’t want to risk that, do you?
  • “Specialists” may add unnecessary Phase II ESA activity. Usually, when people get an inferior report they are saddled with statements calling for supplementary work. If that happens, you’re left holding the bag and must pay for that additional work. It is impossilbe to avoid.We often see people who offer Phase I ESAs for a dirt-cheap price expect to compensate for it with more costly Phase II activity, even when it’s not warranted.  After they’ve done the Phase I Report cheaply, they point out “issues” that you can’t avoid. You’re obligated to do the Phase II work, usually at a much higher price than the industry standard. The industry frowns on a new firm doing the Phase II work on another firm’s Phase I, so you get stuck with the conniving company to the end of the project.
  • Your “Bargain Company” might not have genuine credentials. Cheap prices often mean that firm’s employees aren’t experienced, aren’t knowledgeable, or don’t know the proper criteria for report research and development.  Indeed, they may not meet the ASTM qualifications for an “environmental professional” at all.  You need both your site inspections and records research conducted by an environmental engineering professional, with years of experience.   There are very strict standards on who can call themselves an environmental professional, and you must make sure the firm you choose meets those standards.
  • If standards aren’t followed, the report is worthless. If the budget Phase I ESA doesn’t follow ASTM Standards for whatever reason, it is inevitable that something will be missed. Usually, something like the presence of contamination, that you’ll be financially responsible for, is missed. If the firm doesn’t follow the standards, it’s work won’t protect you if pollution is found. Your property value and your investment are at risk. Why would you chance hundreds of thousands by only saving a couple of hundred dollars on a shoddy Phase I?

A bargain Phase I ESA is a poor investment!

Since a Phase I Report protects you from potential risk, it is really an investment.  It informs you about the deal you are entering, including whether it is wise to go through with the deal at all.  A proper Phase I will equip you with real sureties if your property is found to  have environmental issues. You don’t want to blow your money needlessly, but there are some grave red flags involved with a cheap Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.

For example, if your car is broken, do you use the cheapest mechanic around? If you are buying a house, do you get the lowest home inspection available? If you are sick, would you go to the poorest doctor?  Most of us want to avoid getting bargain help when a big investment is at risk.

In the end, if all you’re concerned about is the price, you might not get the best deal after all.  A crummy Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is not worth the risk.

Experts advise you to find a firm that knows the standards and employs highly qualified environmental professionals. You need to find an organization that administers investigations and conforms to ASTM standards. You need an organization that has experience and expertise giving you the knowledge you need to protect your investment. You need a firm with integrity that you can trust.

If you’re looking for an environmental professional with experience and expertise, and are in the market for a Phase I, click here to contact us.

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