We explain how much a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment costs in New Jersey.
Life in the New Jersey isn't cheap. From property taxes to the bump in gas tax recently, New Jersey is an expensive state to live or run a business in. And, when it comes to businesses costs, one thing we hear from many prospective customers throughout the Garden State has to do with Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.
For many out there, dealing with a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a random occurrence that might only happen a handful of times over the course of a business. Some folks never need one, some folks need them all the time. It all depends. We hear a range of questions like what is a Phase I ESA? Or how long is a Phase I good for? But, one of the most common questions we get asked about a Phase I is the price. Simply put, people want to know how much a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment costs in New Jersey.
How much does a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment cost in New Jersey?
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment costs in New Jersey are similar to anywhere else in the country. Depending on the property in question, the cost of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey could cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 or more, but you should expect, on average, for a Phase I ESA in New Jersey to cost around $2,000 to $3,000 for most properties.
I know what you're thinking - that's an insane range! How can you accurately figure out the cost of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey with a price range like that?!
Unfortunately, you can't. It's like asking how much does a home in New Jersey cost? Or how much does it cost to drive on the Parkway? There is no cut and dried answer, but instead, a wide range.
It all depends on the particulars of the property in question. There is no easy way to quote the price of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey without knowing some details about the property in question, and we've found that these 8 factors can help you figure out what price you'll pay for a Phase I in New Jersey.
Top 8 Factors That Influence the Cost of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey
Before we get into the factors, let me give you an analogy that might help to illustrate the price range. Suppose you have a vehicle that you're interested in buying. Let's say it's a vehicle for sale in Monmouth County being sold by a private individual. First off, you're going to have your own mechanic check it out to make sure you're not buying a lemon. I mean, would you really trust the buyer's word? I know I wouldn't!
But here's where it gets tricky. How much is it going to cost your mechanic to check it out? Wouldn't you say that depends? Would your mechanic charge you the same rate for a brand-new Honda Civic, an antique Model T, a 35-year-old diesel school bus, a dump truck used at an industrial facility, or a Lamborghini? I'm guessing probably not!
How much investigation does the mechanic need to do? Does the car have dozens of owners going back years, or is it a one-owner low mileage special? Do you need the inspection done immediately? Do you have a history with the mechanic and bring all your needs to them? Does the vehicle have any special considerations? Point is, the variables can and do make a difference when it comes to price.
1 - Deadlines impact the costs of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey.
The number one factors when it comes to the cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey is your deadline. If you need your Phase I ASAP, it will cost more.
All too often we get calls from folks across the Garden State asking us for a Phase I completed in two weeks or even less! Can it be done? Of course! However, it's like showing up to an accountant a few days before your taxes are due and saying I need this done ASAP! In other words, expect to pay a premium.
When a Phase I is conducted, there is a lot of behind the scenes activity that goes on, such as reviewing digital and physical records, either online or by visiting a regulatory office, conducting site visits, as well as the process of writing the report. If you need your report immediately, you may have to pay an expedited fee for a quicker turnaround. Makes sense, right?
Do yourself a favor – start thinking about the Phase I as early in the process as you can. We tell folks that a good turnaround time, allowing us to completely do our work and check into everything we can, is usually about 30 business days. So, don't wait until the last minute, or you can expect higher Phase I Environmental Site Assessment costs.
2 - Your location in New Jersey impacts the cost of a Phase I ESA.
The property location impacts the price of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey since some areas are going to have more history to review versus others. Part of the Phase I process is a thorough records review, and depending on where your property is located, this activity can be long and laborious or short and sweet.
For example, a property in Jersey City might have records about it, and surrounding properties, going back 75+ years. This means there's a lot of paperwork to sift through, meaning an environmental professional will spend more time on this job. More time equals more money. For example, we worked on a project recently in Hoboken, NJ where the subject property had documented history going all the way back to the late 1800's. That's a lot of stuff to sift through!
Conversely, a property in rural Salem County may not have any prior use and may be surrounded by areas that have little to no development or regulatory records. If this is the case, the environmental professional may be able to get through the records review process in little to no time.
The other thing to consider about property location is where the environmental professional is based out of. Yes, New Jersey is a small state, but if you're hiring a professional in Cape May to conduct a Phase I ESA up in Warren County, you're looking at close to an entire day of just travel time and travel costs. These travel times and costs will be reflected in the cost of a Phase I.
Here's a tale for you - a few years ago we just so happened to get a call from the owner of the property next to our offices. Turns out he knew a client of ours who recommended us and didn't realize we were literally right next door to him. We chatted a bit and at the end of the day we got hired to conduct the Phase I. Since I literally could walk over to the subject property, which was undeveloped by the way, it was literally the cheapest Phase I ESA we've ever completed.
3 - The size of your property can impact Phase I ESA costs in New Jersey.
Again, the property itself plays a huge role here. If you have a half acre site it would most likely be cheaper because less time is needed to spend on-site inspecting the property. On the other hand, a 75-acre property could take a day or two to fully inspect. Remember, time is money, meaning the more time necessary, the higher the price for a Phase I ESA in New Jersey.
Of course, if the half acre site is nestled in the middle of New Brunswick with extensive development and lots of regulatory records to sift through, then the size of the property may be immaterial. It all depends!
4 - The improvements on-site impact the price of a Phase I.
Yet again, the property impacts the price. What's on the property in question? Is it developed? Is there a gas station? Is it a parking lot? A factory? A strip mall with or without a dry cleaner? The types of improvements on the property can, and do, impact the cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey.
As you can imagine, the price for a Phase I ESA may be cheaper if the land is undeveloped or lightly developed. It would most likely be more expensive if it's heavily developed. However, there can certainly be exemptions to this. For example, a large condominium complex would most likely be easier to inspect versus a small gas station. While the amount of development impacts the inspection time necessary, so does the complexity of the development.
5 - Past history & usage impacts the cost of a Phase I ESA in New Jersey.
Somewhat related to development, but I like to include this because many people calling or emailing us already somewhat know about the past use of the property. Just like what's on the property right now, what was on the property in the past can make a difference.
For example, sometimes prospective customers already know past use of the property, including knowledge like:
It was a gas station for the last 50 years.
There used to be a dry cleaner on-site but they're long gone.
It's been undeveloped except for a billboard as far back as I know.
There used to be a small commercial garage on the property.
It used to be an agricultural farm field.
When we hear things like this, we can start to formulate some initial insight into the property, including what's going to be necessary for the site inspection and during the records review process. Depending on the use, we might go into a Phase I knowing we'll have to spend more time in a dusty old government office in Trenton or in your local county or municipality looking over records. Other times we'll be able to get everything we need from a quick review of digital records.
6 - Phase I Environmental Site Assessment prices depend on how many you need.
Like anything else in life, you can usually get a bulk discount. Of course, this can depend on the type of sites, but if you were to hire us for a Phase I ESA in New Jersey, we would charge differently depending on the volume of work. For instance, if your company is buying dozens of sites across New Jersey and you were to hire us for multiple Phase I's, we would likely throw in a discount for buying in bulk.
7 - Additional environmental services can raise Phase I ESA costs.
When people want to know the price of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey, they often think a Phase I is an all-compassing one ticket item covering a variety of environmental issues. For example, when we get calls asking how much a Phase I ESA in New Jersey costs, many people incorrectly think various items will be included within the scope of the Phase I, such as:
Mold, Lead, or Asbestos Inspections or Testing
Pinelands, Meadowlands, or Highlands Work
Environmental Audits or Compliance Evaluations
In the case of residential property, Home Inspections
Drilling, testing, or sampling of soil or water
Ground Penetrating Radar Scans
The list goes on and on…
To be clear, none of the items above are included (by default) in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. However, we do frequently get asked to include some of the items above, usually when a lending institution such as a bank wants an expanded level of environmental due diligence.
Does that mean we just wrap that up into the cost of a Phase I ESA? Nope! It means that you're going to pay for a Phase I, and you're also going to pay for the additional work. So, depending on what you need completed on your piece of property in New Jersey, the cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment won't change, but you will have additional costs to consider.
Here's some additional information on related topics:
8 - The qualifications of the environmental professional conducting the Phase I ESA impacts costs.
I include this because we get a ton of people calling and emailing asking us for our lowest price. Hey, I get it. It's totally understandable since no one wants to get ripped off. But, just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.
If you hire a shyster "environmental professional" who does a terrible report, you might only spend a few hundred bucks. Conversely, if you hire a top-notch environmental law firm that bills at hundreds of dollars an hour, you might spend thousands and thousands of dollars.
A word of advice: hire someone in the middle. Find a firm that offers quality work, at a competitive, but fair price. Remember, an environmental professional needs to meet certain criteria to even be able to conduct a Phase I. That means you're hiring someone who has experience, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but regardless they are an expert in what they do.
Another word of advice: you don't want to go with the low bidder, ever. We have never seen "low bidder" work that is any good, and we look at a lot of Phase I reports. In fact, we just had a chance to review a "competitors" work on a Phase I ESA at a gas station within New Jersey, in an urban setting, with extensive development in the area. It wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. The fellow who bought the cheap report couldn't understand why, so here's some of the stuff we shared right off the bat with him:
The environmental professional did not appear to come even remotely close to meeting the qualifications laid out in the ASTM standards as someone who could conduct a Phase I ESA. In short, they most likely weren't qualified and the validity of the whole report is in question.
The environmental professional appeared to be doing this on the side and did not list his company, contact information, etc, which also drew up some red flags.
The report was incredibly short, less than 25 pages long. This in and of itself isn't the end of the world, again, red flags.
The report was riddled with typos, did not appear to be proof-read at all, and had conflicting descriptions of site improvements. You guessed it, red flags.
There were numerous areas of the facility that weren't discussed at all. BIG red flag!
There was no discussion of reviewing any records of tank integrity testing, or the lack thereof, despite the facility having 25+-year-old underground storage tanks. Red flag yet again!
There were no discussions about the impacts of surrounding properties. Not a huge red flag, but no discussion at all is odd.
All-in-all, the report itself was useless. I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice, but I find it extremely unlikely that this document would meet the ASTM standards for All Appropriate Inquiries, and most likely not offer any liability protection. The "environmental professional" did not appear to meet the qualifications, and the quality of the work was anything but professional.
In short, it wasn't worth the $1,000 bucks the guy spent on it. His money was 100% wasted by going with the low bidder. In fact, the lending institution who he presented the report to rejected the work outright and said go hire someone else, this is junk!
We see a couple of reports like this a year, and it continues to amaze us. It's like hiring a doctor without a formal degree or taking your car to a mechanic who doesn't understand cars. It really is a buyer beware market, but again, I urge you, don't just shop on price. If you do, you're gambling with your investment.
What is the average price or cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey?
As you can see, that's a hard question to answer. Realistically, I would argue that somewhere between $2,000 and $5,000 is a good guess at the cost of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in New Jersey, assuming your facility is somewhat normal. Can you get them cheaper? Sure! Can you get them for more than $5,000? Of course! It all depends!
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