June 6, 2015

Buying Commercial Real Estate? Do Soil Sampling First!

As a land developer and investor, you know you need to do your due diligence and conduct property condition assessments before you risk your capital.

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If you purchase a property that has been environmentally contaminated — even if you didn’t cause the contamination or know about it before you made the deal — you could be liable for clean up and other costs that could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s best to start from the ground up to make sure your soil isn’t contaminated.

For instance, let’s say that the previous owner of a property dumped industrial residue like mercury compounds in the back of your lot. Those compounds could have seeped into a local aquifer and caused damage to a neighbor’s farming business. If you buy that property without knowing about the mercury leaching, and a site assessment reveals the presence of the pollution, you may have to clean up the problems. While you might be able to sue the previous owner to pay for the remediation, there is no guarantee that you will succeed, and your legal fees alone could be substantial.

Conducting a Phase II environmental site assessment can help you locate and evaluate what are known as “areas of concern” (AOCs) — places on the property where pollution may be a problem. The AOCs may need to be cleaned up before you make a purchase. After a Phase II, the seller may either pay for site remediation outright or discount the property appropriately.

Many soil remediation processes can recover the contamination or prevent it from being an environmental problem. At Essel, we often use a process called hand boring to lift soil from deeper depths by drilling bore holes with mechanical devices called samplers. Once the soil had been retrieved, we examine the samples coming from different depths for any trace of contamination.

Do You Suspect Your Sight Needs Soil Sampling?

Contact the team at Essel Environmental to do due diligence on your prospective deal; we can do soil testing to make sure your investment experience is more profitable and less likely to lead to litigation.

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