In today’s real estate market, it is prudent to conduct some measure of due diligence prior to the purchase, redevelopment, upgrading or refinancing of properties.
Terrapex’s multidisciplinary team of professional engineers, geoscientists, hydrogeologists, biologists, technicians and draftspersons have the technical expertise needed to tailor a practical approach that addresses the particular requirements of a project to facilitate a property transaction – helping to ensure that your bottom line is respected and protected.
Depending on the needs of our client, as well as the requirements of the property transaction, we can complete the following services either individually or concurrently:
- Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs)
- Designated Substance Surveys (DSSs)
- Hydrogeological Studies
- Building Condition Assessments (BCAs)
- Geotechnical Investigations
Whatever your particular property transaction requirements are, rest assured that Terrapex has 20 years of proven experience providing personal service to both private and public sector clients, delivering the information needed to make informed decisions. Our reputation is based on our integrity. We work with our clients to identify and address both potential and actual environmental issues so that business can proceed.
PHASE I AND PHASE II ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENTS
It is common to ascertain environmental conditions prior to entering/terminating a lease or acquiring/divesting a property, particularly when a change in land use is involved. In most property transactions, Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are completed as a due diligence measure to facilitate an agreement or obtain financing.
A Phase I ESA is a non-intrusive investigation consisting of a historical records review, site inspection visit, interviews with persons knowledgeable about the property, and evaluation/interpretation of the information. It documents current and historic activities at the property and on surrounding lands to determine the environmental condition of the property and identifies any issues of actual or potential environmental concern. Terrapex completes Phase I ESAs in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z768-01 or Ontario Regulation 153/04, as required.
A Phase II ESA is an intrusive investigation that is conducted to ascertain the soil and groundwater conditions at any Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) identified on the property. Depending on the location of the property, a Phase II ESA may also include the investigation and sampling of other media, such as sediment, surface water or air. Concentrations of Contaminants of Concern (COCs) in collected samples are compared to applicable site condition standards or environmental criteria to determine the absence/presence of contamination, and ascertain if the property can be used as intended. Terrapex completes Phase II ESAs in accordance with the CSA Standard Z769-00, Ontario Regulation 153/04 and/or federal guidelines, as required.
Terrapex’s professional staff work with clients to provide personalized, affordable, practical approaches based on the specific requirements of the property and the associated transaction.
DESIGNATED SUBSTANCES SURVEYS
The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act prescribes 11 chemical agents as Designated Substances; currently, these include acrylonitrile, arsenic, asbestos, benzene, coke oven emissions, ethylene oxide, isocyanates, lead, mercury, silica and vinyl chloride. Designated Substances can potentially be present in buildings/structures as well as within building materials and therefore could be disturbed during construction, renovation, and demolition (CRD) activities.
Under the Act, it is the responsibility of the property or building owner to determine whether any Designated Substances (or other potentially hazardous materials) are present in the proposed work area(s). If found, a list of the Designated Substances and/or hazardous materials and their locations must be identified in a written report provided to the contractor performing the work before commencing a project. A Designated Substances Survey (DSS) forms a key component of the Workplace Health and Safety Plan implemented during construction.
A DSS consists of a visual inspection (walk-through) of the accessible areas of a building/project site, to identify potential Designated Substances in building/construction materials and equipment. Physical samples are then collected from suspect building materials during the inspection and submitted for laboratory analysis to confirm the absence/presence of Designated Substances (e.g., arsenic, asbestos, lead or mercury). Terrapex inspectors are trained on the historical use of materials in buildings and have significant experience identifying the type, characteristics and conditions of building materials which may be of concern.
Terrapex assists your CRD project by:
- Conducting a DSS of the building or project area.
- Preparing a written report for use during the work program that meets the requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
- Developing abatement work-plans and/or contractor specifications for the handling and removal of Designated Substances.
- Preparing asbestos management plans for buildings where asbestos has been identified and long-term management is required.
HYDROGEOLOGY AND SURFACE WATER ASSESSMENTS
A property can impact groundwater. Dewatering can lower pressures. Paving reduces recharge of the groundwater volume. Chemicals can impact deep groundwater quality. Humans reliant on groundwater may then experience dry wells or unsafe quality. Natural waters and wetlands reliant on groundwater can be similarly impacted.
And groundwater can impact a property. A high water table can inflow to basements. Construction excavations require dewatering for safety and stability. A thin aquifer may restrict the number of units in a new subdivision. Contaminants can be transported from offsite to onsite.
Protection is a concern of all levels of government. The provincial Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the Regional Conservation Authority and the local municipality usually mandate studies and mitigation measures to protect groundwater and surface water from the adverse side effects of development.
Terrapex helps you meet your assessment obligations and guides your development in a sustainable and responsible manner. Our highly experienced hydrogeologists and engineers know how to design and implement practical solutions that are scientifically defensible.
Some of our services include the following.
- Hydrogeological studies: We identify the water table, high-yield geological units and interactions with nearby properties, vulnerable environmental features and wellhead protection areas.
- Dewatering: We test permeability and predict the possible rate of dewatering for deep building excavations and linear trenches. The rate indicates if construction requires a Permit to Take Water, an Environmental Activity and Sector Registry or -just sometimes – no application for taking at all.
- Monitoring: We implement efficient monitoring programs to confirm compliance and to early detect possible issues. Seasonal variations can be significant. Locations aim to meet dewatering, contaminant, geotechnical and long-term monitoring purposes, if feasible. Our compliance reports demonstrate your diligence in meeting regulatory obligations.
- Private Well Surveys: We confirm if neighbouring wells may be vulnerable. Our dataset provides a solid record of quality and quantity to assess the veracity of potential complaints of interference.
- Water balance: We quantify the amount of recharge occurring in pre and post construction. Opportunities to improve recharge are recommended when reasonable, based on design concept, water table and permeability of the ground.
- Water Supply Wells: We determine the potential for productive aquifers at a property. Pumping tests are performed to predict yield and the potential for interference to other supplies.
- Surface water and wetlands: We monitor before and during construction to confirm the absence of impacts. Groundwater upflow may be assessed. Temperature, water quality, flow rate by sample or continuously by logger can be measured year-round.
BUILDING CONDITION ASSESSMENTS
Prior to leasing/acquiring a property, applying for financing, or managing an existing property, it is good business practice to ascertain the conditions of the building(s) and the property as part of the due diligence process.
A Building Condition Assessment (BCA), also known as a Property Condition Assessment (PCA), allows a potential purchaser or property, owner/manager, to identify current and potential future property deficiencies as well as understand what additional capital costs could be incurred to maintain the property. It allows purchasers to negotiate provisions for ongoing capital costs under the purchase agreement and also provides assurance to lenders that future repair/upgrade costs are included in project finances. BCAs are also included in the financial audits conducted when completing reserve fund studies for condominium corporations or managing assets within equity or commercial real estate funds.
Terrapex completes BCAs in general accordance with the ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Standard E2018. The assessments include a visual site inspection and data analyses to evaluate the condition of building systems and major components, which include the building envelope (windows and walls), structure (foundation and framing), mechanical (heating, ventilation, air condition), plumbing, electrical, and roofing. In addition, interior areas (stairways and halls, etc.) and exterior areas (concrete walkways and asphalt parking) are also visually inspected. The findings of the site inspection are used to ascertain the condition of the facility and develop a life cycle analysis of the various building systems and components.
When required, the BCA can be conducted as part of a larger investigation prior to completion of a negotiated property transaction, lease agreement or refinancing. Our team of professional engineers and scientists conduct a BCA in concurrence with a Phase I ESA, Designated Substances Survey and/or Geotechnical Investigation in a cost-efficient manner to satisfy your due diligence requirements.
Terrapex’s team of experts provide the property information clients require to make technically and financially sound business decisions before completing property transactions and for managing property assets.
When planning a new development, redeveloping a new property or completing a scheduled infrastructure upgrade, understanding the subsurface conditions is a key component of project design and construction. Terrapex provides geotechnical engineering, field and laboratory materials testing and construction inspections services that deliver efficient, cost-effective geotechnical design solutions tailored to the specific requirements of the project or individual client needs.
Our team of geotechnical engineers, technicians and technologists work with clients to collect the quality field data required to understand soil behaviour at the property so that the proposed development concept is realized.
Terrapex routinely works to integrate environmental and geotechnical services on property transaction projects, providing cost-effective and practical approaches to our clients which save both time and money.
For more details on our types of geotechnical services, please visit the Geotechnical Services section of this website.