What You Need to Know About Site Condition Assessments

When buying or owning a commercial property, it is essential that you carry out due diligence in ensuring that the property meets all the required standards. Therefore, before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important that you get a site condition assessment.

One of the required standards is that the property complies with Australian environmental laws and regulations. The purpose of a site condition assessment is to determine the existence and level of soil or groundwater contamination. This includes petroleum, pesticides, heavy metals, and herbicides. 

The site condition assessment will also help to identify the presence of products such as lead paint, asbestos, or mould. So by getting a preliminary environmental report on the property, you can avoid unpleasant and expensive surprises down the line. 

It is at this point that you need environmental site services. At Renew Solutions, we specialise in providing environmental site compliance services. 

What is A Site Condition Assessment?

A site condition assessment is often used interchangeably with environmental site assessment (ESA). It is an evaluation of any environmental issues on construction sites. It is the process of assessing the environmental liability of a property.

In an ESA, enquiry is made into the past and current uses of a property in a bid to find out whether the property is affected by a recognised environmental condition. This process involves inspecting the site, reviewing the property’s historical records, and researching any records available at governmental agencies.

After completing the assessment, an opinion is formed as to whether or not the past or current activities may have caused a release of petroleum products or hazardous substances at the property.

With the help of an environmental site assessment, property owners, lenders, real estate lawyers, land developers, and insurance companies can discover and analyse hazardous contaminants on any property. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that ESAs are only good for a limited period, usually six months. 

Why Conduct A Site Condition Assessment?

People conduct site condition assessments for various reasons, but some of the major reasons include;

1. To Comply with Australian Legislation

For example, in NSW the results contained in the preliminary environmental report may require the property owner to report the contamination in accordance with section 60 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

Under the Contaminated Land Management Compliance Statement, the Environment Protection Authority is mandated to ensure that those who are responsible for managing significantly contaminated land fulfil their legal obligations. This is done to ensure improved environmental and human health.

2. To Avoid Treatment or Clean Up Costs

Purchasing a property that turns out to be contaminated will incur costs that will be required to treat the contamination. But by using environmental site services to get a preliminary environmental report, you can either walk away from a contaminated property or use the contamination to buy the property at a lower price.

3. To Create a Healthier Local Environment

By carrying out a site condition assessment, you can improve the state of the environment, including its recreational potential, agricultural potential, water sources, and aesthetic values. 

It serves to identify the positive and negative effects of any project on the environment and community. Additionally, it can help in maintaining biodiversity.

Phases of Site Condition Assessment

Generally, there are two phases of the site condition assessment: environmental site assessment phase 1 and 2.

Phase I

A site condition begins with Phase 1, which is a visual and historical inspection. An environmental professional searches for visual evidence of actual or probable contamination like underground storage tanks. The expert will also obtain documents and aerial photos to find out past activities on the property and on neighbouring sites from which contamination could have migrated. 

This is important because while a business may have cleaned up its own property, neighbouring property owners may not have done so. 

This Phase 1 assessment needs to go as far back as possible to find out what the property and neighbouring areas were used for and whether contamination is possible. Older properties tend to have a higher risk of contamination issues than newer developments. 

The Phase 1 ESA isn’t only necessary when purchasing a property. It may also come in handy when leasing commercial property. This is because some landlords may stipulate in the lease agreement that they are not responsible for any environmental contamination caused by tenants.

In such cases, it is advisable that tenants whose business activities may affect the environment do a phase 1 environmental assessment before signing the lease. This is to ensure that there are no existing contamination issues on the property for which they can be held responsible for later on.

Phase II

The Phase 2 assessment provides a better understanding of the condition of the soil, groundwater, and structures on the property. If the environmental professional identifies any potential environmental issues in phase 1, this is the time to take further action.

Simply put, Phase 2 of the site condition assessment investigates the level of contamination and addresses the problems raised in Phase 1.

It is used to determine whether hazardous compounds are present on the surface. Soil and groundwater samples are taken to accomplish this. The samples are then sent to labs to be evaluated for contamination by comparing them to remediation guidelines for soil, sediment, and groundwater. 

This procedure will evaluate the level of contamination and whether or not cleanup is necessary.

Consult an Environmental Specialist

Site condition assessments are an essential risk management tool when purchasing or managing a property. And these assessments are with our scope of environmental expertise. Here at Renew Solutions, we understand how preliminary environmental reports are used in the real estate industry and during the ownership of a business.

So whether a property is commercial, industrial, multi-purpose, or multifamily, Renew Solutions can access the historical and present uses of the property. Our environmental professionals have years of experience conducting site condition assessments and can provide you with an expert environmental report and perspective on every property type.

Even better, our services go beyond site condition assessments. We also provide expert solutions in cases where the site is contaminated. 

Contact us now, let us help make the perfect assessments.

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