If you’re considering purchasing commercial real estate anywhere in New Jersey, you should learn as much as possible about the site before making that final decision to buy. These days it’s especially important to understand whether there’s any possibility your prospective land or buildings are contaminated with one or more hazardous substances.
Conducting a Phase 1 site assessment can help ensure you’re fully informed and well protected against liability if contamination is found. It’s the first stage of what’s considered “all appropriate inquiry” into your property’s environmental history.
Your lender might even require this assessment before approving your financing package.
A Phase 1 site assessment is designed to protect you.
The information this research uncovers will help you make a wise purchasing decision, based on the following four considerations. Hiring a professional expert will ensure your assessment covers all the bases.
- Past ownership and uses of the property.
Your investigator will look for indications contamination may be present. They’ll use historical data such as maps and directories and they may personally interview past or current owners and tenants. They’ll pay particular attention to past uses such as gas stations, auto repair, dental or X-ray offices, dry cleaning, printing, photo processing or manufacturing.
They’ll review local, county, state, federal and tribal regulatory agency records to uncover any known problems that have been deemed not entirely the user’s responsibility.
- The “lay of the land.”
Your investigator will look for geographical and hydro geographical indications of surface or subsurface contamination, using visual inspection, background data and limited scope surveys.
They’ll check heat sources, plumbing and fixtures relating to sewer or cesspools, building condition and construction materials including roofing, siding, flooring and insulation. They’ll look for potential signs of asbestos, lead paint, water or mold damage. And they’ll look at adjacent property, too.
- Whether or not problems exist.
Phase 1 site assessment may discover no problems. If concerns do exist, they could be minimal or serious enough to warrant an in-depth Phase 2 site investigation. There may be contamination which has been previously identified but not corrected.
- How much risk you’re willing to accept.
This is your ultimate consideration. If the property is clean, you’re good to go. If there are problems, you may still want the property, but you’ll have all the facts at your disposal to negotiate a price or other purchase details that make sense under the circumstances.