Let’s set the scene: you’ve just been told by your bank that you need to conduct a Phase I ESA on your property. You shop around, request a few quotes from environmental companies, and are set on choosing the firm that provided you with the least expensive price. After all, isn’t every Phase I ESA the same?
The answer is no. Just like anything, you get what you pay for when it comes to Phase I ESAs.
As we talked about in our “What is a Phase I ESA” blog post, a Phase I ESA is an investment to make in your property. Phase I ESAs, or any other visual or physical inspection of your property, allows you to further understand your property as well as the liability you’re inheriting along with it.
What makes some Phase I ESAs cheaper than others?
Now that we’ve established that investing in a Phase I ESA is the wise thing to do for any property owner, you might be wondering, “What’s the difference between a cheap Phase I ESA and a more expensive Phase I ESA?”
If you get a quote that is drastically lower than the others, there has to be a reason.
A few reasons might be:
ASTM Standards are not being followed: ASTM, or, the American Society for Testing and Materials, has created a set of standards that Phase I ESA reports are based on. Although not a regulatory body, Phase I ESAs are expected to and required to follow this standard. If the ASTM standard is not followed, then the report may be considered invalid and useless. This will prevent your Phase I ESA from being accepted by your lender, or could leave you vulnerable to future inherited liability on the property.
Your “environmental professional” might not be telling the truth about his or her credentials:
Phase I ESAs are only recognized if they are conducted by an “environmental professional.” To see more about who is considered an environmental professional, check out our blog post called, “Who Can Conduct a Phase I ESA?”
Unnecessary reports will be tacked on to the end of your Phase I ESA: If your Phase I ESA is cheaper than average, it is not uncommon for a firm to take advantage of your trust in them and overcompensate for the low price charged by recommending unnecessary services after the Phase I ESA has been conducted. This way, you’re paying a lower price for the Phase I, but will ultimately end up paying much more than anticipated for no reason.
The company you hired will do the bare minimum… and only the bare minimum: A cheap Phase I ESA might only include the final Phase I ESA report, and absolutely nothing else. Throughout the course of your Phase I ESA, it’s often helpful to have updates on findings or explanations of how to take action on small projects. Some companies that provide cheap Phase I ESAs will refuse to provide any additional customer service.
At Essel, our advice would be to invest in a Phase I ESA up front with a firm that you trust. This way, you won’t get scammed into paying for unnecessary future services, you’ll be in touch with reputable consultants, and you’ll properly invest in your property.