Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost varies depending on the location and characteristics of a property. As of 2021, the average Phase 1 Environmental price ranges between $1,800 and $3,500. And in rare instances, Phase 1 ESA prices can be as high as $6,000. Although with the new ASTM E1527 ESA Standards poised to release in Q4 of 2021, the national Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost and environmental professional rate may increase. Nonetheless, this article provides information about what to expect when ordering a Phase 1 Environmental, as well as the do’s and don’ts for seeking due diligence reports. Updated May 15, 2021.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost Geo Forward 2021 to 2022

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost – Photo By: Geo Forward

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Cost California

Environmental laws and regulations in the state of California lead the national standard of the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment process. To illustrate, California human health risk assessment standards and environmental screening levels do differ from most other States at any given moment. Although, the environmental standards of each State agency become stricter over time. And each decade, more similar to California. As a result, consultants generally conform to California standards and protocols when conducting private environmental compliance audits. As a result, the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment cost becomes relatable across the nation.

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.

Price Ranges to Expect in the Year 2021

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.

A Small-Size Commercial Lot in the Year 2021 May Range Between:

  • $2,000 and $3,000

A Medium to a Large-Size Industrial Lot (<1 Acre) in the Year 2021 May Range Between:

  • $2,500 and $4,500

A Large-Scale Industrial Facility (1 to 5 Acres) in the Year 2021 May Range Between:

  • $4,500 and $6,500

A Large-Size Rural Property (>5 Acres) in the Year 2021 May Range Between:

  • $3,500 and $4,500

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.

Suspiciously Low Phase 1 Environmental Cost – Watch Out!

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 or cheap 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 company. 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 lower Phase I Environmental Report cost. 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.