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#6 of Ten Tips ….Buying a Century Home

Do be aware of the surroundings of your potential purchase….a segue to Environmental Assessments (ESA).

You may be familiar with the terms….Environmental Phase 1, or Environmental Assessment, which is mostly required when purchasing a commercial property; however, it can also be required for the purchase of a residential dwelling.

Many century homes are located in mixed-use areas (both urban and rural) and the possibility of your potential new purchase neighbouring on properties engaged in storing, transporting or producing waste, chemicals or hazardous substances is a possibility. Contamination could be a concern if the home is located near a dry cleaner, gas station, motor repair facility, printing facility, photo developer or laboratory, junkyard, processing or recycling facility, landfill or former oil field or other environmentally hazardous businesses.

You have found the perfect century home….”lovingly cared for, full of charm and character, close to all amenities, electrical and plumbing has been updated….”, and you are ready to submit an offer and as you peek through the gorgeous mature trees in your future backyard you notice your potential dream home backs on property that belongs to an adjacent gas station. Should you run….no….but you should be aware, due diligence is necessary.

If the property is an environmental suspect, a request for an environmental report/esa can come from the buyer’s lawyer, and/or the financial institute that finances the purchase. At this point, an Environmental Assessment may be requested. The cost for a Phase 1 Assessment can vary, normally in the $2,000-$3,000 range.

Phase 1: The process involved in a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is ….
• Review of records to collect data on past activities on the site and neighbouring properties.
• A site visit to identify any visual evidence of actual or potential contamination (for example, an underground oil tank, or asbestos pipe insulation).
• In some cases interviews with site personnel, government officials and third parties.
• Evaluation of the information and reporting of the findings and conclusions.

Usually at this point, with a clean record, the Offer To Purchase will continue. In the event a Phase 2 is required, the buyer will most likely walk away due to escalated assessment costs.

Phase 2:
A Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment is to define the nature and extent of any environmental impacts at a site through an intrusive sampling program.

The typical scope of work may include:

• collection of soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment and/or vapour samples;
• chemical analysis of samples;
• surveying the site and establishing groundwater flow direction;
• determining the appropriate criteria to which the results must be compared;
• interpretation of data, possibly including modeling, qualitative risk assessment, or development of a Conceptual Site Model;
• preparation of a clear, comprehensive report documenting the findings and presenting a conclusion regarding the environmental condition of the site.

Phase 3: Cleaning Up of Contaminated Land known as Brownfields

Some examples of Brownfields are: closed factories, gas stations and waterfronts previously used as port operations.

Phase 3 will most likely apply for commercial developments.


Brownfield Site