Sometimes It Pays To Get A Second Opinion

Recently I was contacted by a client of ours who was purchasing a large commercial building in the downtown area of a large Texas city. He had a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I) conducted by another firm, which concluded that there was a Recognized Environmental Condition (“REC”) at the property. The REC was the presence of a previously removed underground storage tank. A follow-up Phase II was conducted by the consultant, who found dangerously high levels of petroleum and chlorinated solvent vapor all throughout the property. The discovery of the high levels of petroleum and solvent vapors caused the client to suggest holding back $1MM from the purchase price to cover the predicted remediation costs. This, obviously, caused both parties and their attorneys to get a little agitated that the transaction might be in jeopardy. I was asked to review the reports and provide a second opinion on
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A Millennial Guide To Phase I’s

Since graduating with a degree in Biological Engineering from LSU, I have assisted Environmental Professionals (EP’s) with over 200 projects that required Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs).  Over the last two years these projects have ranged from vacant lots, multi-family residential apartment complexes, drycleaners, gasoline stations, to industrial manufacturing plants. The goal of a Phase I ESA is to determine if there are conditions that are indicative of releases of petroleum or hazardous materials or chemicals at the site, now or in the past. These conditions are known as recognized environmental conditions (RECs).  Basically, a Phase I is conducted to identify RECs, at the subject property that may require investigation or cleanup, and could impair a property’s value or create liability.  Phase I ESAs include the following: Site inspection (interior and exterior features) A review of historical records of the property (including historical aerial photographs and topographic maps, fire insurance
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Environmental 101: Finding The Right Consultant

For real estate deals, the standard process for evaluating environmental risks is to conduct a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) followed by a Phase II Investigation when a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC, suspected contamination) is identified. Typically, the first question a consultant receives when a Phase II is recommended is “how much?” followed by “can you do it cheaper?”  These are fair questions and I ask them myself with my CPA, handy man, painters, mechanic, etc. The big challenge for W&M is balancing the Phase II scope of work with costs. The bigger the scope (e.g., number of samples, chemical analyses, etc.), the higher the price will be.  Sure it would be nice if we could collect one “magic sample” but such a sample doesn’t exist.  I like to compare the sampling process to playing the board game Battleship.  We can make some educated guesses but don’t really know
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We Get Projects Done! Better, Stronger, Faster…

Where I work, our Mission Statement is “We Get Projects Done”.  The implication is one of speed, in that the project gets finished in a timely matter.  For a long time we relied on gut feel for the speed of the project completion. We have now developed an equation to quantify the velocity (or time for completion) of a project. Estimating the project velocity can give the project team a fair estimate of the days it will take to complete the project based just on the project budget. There are many factors that can alter a project’s schedule, weather, regulatory demands, client changes, etc.  So this tool was not designed to be anything but a rough estimate of the potential time needed based solely on the budget. EQUATION: Project Velocity (days) = Budget (in dollars) +1737.3 / 173.65 For example, a $10,000 project would be expected to be completed in
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