What is the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost

As of the year 2024 a typical Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost ranges between $1,900 and $3,200. The price depends on the property size, location, and turnaround time. Sometimes, Phase 1 ESA prices can be as high as $6,500. For instance, a 3,000-sqft typical commercial property in a metro area might cost $2,000. Whereas a 25-acre open surface mine in a rural area can have Phase 1 ESA costs around $6,500. Updated April 9, 2024.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost Geo Forward
Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost – Photo by AAK Geo Forward

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost Differences Across the Nation

The ASTM Standard for the Phase 1 ESA process applies nationwide. However, environmental laws and regulations in the state of California lead the national standard. As a result, standard costs in California become similarly reflected across the country.

To illustrate, California EPA policies and regulations are typically stricter than other states. Environmental compliance is enforced with human health risk assessment standards and environmental screening levels. As a result, California was one of the first states to require vapor intrusion studies and soil-gas mitigation. Modernly, these principles and practices are required across the nation. And vapor intrusion mitigation has become a standard part of the ASTM Standard for environmental due diligence reports. Accordingly, the scope of work drives the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost.

Phase 1 ESA Cost Impact on Site Inspection Effort

Property characteristics are the main basis for the cost for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. And this essentially reflects upon the amount of time required for a proper site inspection. To illustrate, a local commercial lot may occupy no more than a couple of hours of Phase 1 ESA site inspection time. Whereas a remote factory can take a full day for an environmental professional to inspect per the All Appropriate Inquiries Phase 1 Environmental standard.

Research Time Affects Phase 1 Environmental Cost

Although the location and size of a property strongly relate to the overall Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost, the research time factors in as well. This is because some lots require more research than others at local building departments and environmental agencies. And some facilities generate more environmental compliance records to review, than others. For example, car dealerships can require multiple days to audit hazardous waste disposal documentation, compared to a dental or medical office.

Supplemental & Project Specific Criteria

Lastly, other complexities and special requirements also weigh in on Phase I ESA pricing. For instance, some organizations require specific reporting elements above the ASTM Standard. This is usually a requirement for developers engaging in special development projects. Additional special requirements exist for essential facilities such as schools, hospitals, and government recreational centers.

Phase 1 ESA Prices this Year

Phase I Environmental cost is variable depending on the area and characteristics of a property. Thus, it is not recommended to solely rely on these approximate price ranges. The information below is merely to reference as a tool for learning. To learn how much a Phase I ESA will actually cost on your property, call Geo Forward at (888) 930-6604 for a site-specific proposal.

Phase 1 Environmental Cost for Small-Size Sites:

  • $1,900 to $3,200

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Price Ranges for Medium-Size Sites:

  • $2,200 to $3,000

Phase 1 ESA Cost for Large-Size Sites:

  • $4,500 to $7,000

Flexible Pricing

As years go on, so does the cost to perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. Factors of price changes over time are the result of changing ASTM standards, technology, labor and employment costs, industry demand, and more. Moreover, as environmental laws strengthen over time, the necessity for a proper Phase 1 ESA becomes similarly vital.

Under-Priced Phase 1 Environmental Cost

Whether buying, selling, or applying for a loan, Clients tend to be curious about variable pricing, and the comparisons to quality of work. A low-cost Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment generally entails small budget restrictions and is subject to shortcuts. Thus, suspiciously low-cost assessments usually perform below the professional standard of care. Under review, the lowest Phase I Environmental Report cost will typically have significant errors and data gaps. And as history has shown, this can result in heavy lawsuits, unforeseeable remediation, costly agency fees, and possible forfeiture.

Case Study on Low Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost

Earlier this year, geologists were hired to investigate an industrial property, where a major error was discovered in a prior Phase 1 ESA by a different environmental professional. There was no surprise to learn the report was sold at a low cost. The report completely missed a gas station on the lot for over 10 years and didn’t mention the existing underground tank. Other errors and omissions were also found. This disqualified the report from the CERCLA Innocent Landowner Liability Protection policy. The buyer was misled by the conclusions of the low-budget environmental due diligence report. Consequently, the buyer already purchased the property with a massive amount of liability.

Numerous cases like this arise each week. And they consequently link back to going cheap on the Phase 1 ESA process. For every three price quotes, Clients might find one for about 30% less than the others. This should raise a red flag. Consumers must know that it can actually cost hundreds to thousands above the lowest bidder’s price, just to make a proper Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment.

A Proper Phase 1 Environmental Report Cost

A suspiciously low Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost typically has errors and omissions. And due to the degree of technicality and lengthiness of these reports, errors can be unnoticeable by Clients. Consequently, errors come to light later down the line and can cost a fortune to deal with.

Agency File Review Fees

Another factor that affects the average Phase 1 Environmental Report cost is the ever-changing municipality fee structure for government file reviews. Some local agencies (examples below) charge fees for file recovery and review. Additional fees typically apply for copying, printing, and binding.

Most State agencies (examples below) typically don’t charge for file recovery. However, copy and printing fees usually apply.


The environmental liabilities, damages, and attorney fees that come with a faulty Phase 1 ESA aren’t cheap! And since everyone’s got a lawyer on speed dial these days, it’s best to do the job right the first time, with a proper Phase I Environmental Report. In fact, the industry’s best practice standards advise researching companies before opting for the lowest cost. Although one may be faced with a strict budget, it is generally best to avoid the suspiciously low Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost. Additionally, Geo Forward recommends confirming that a professional geologist or engineer, with a clear license to practice, is in charge of the work to be done.

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