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Commonly Overlooked Liabilities to look out for When Purchasing Land

There are many things to consider when buying a property and the issues that are most commonly considered relate to a person’s motivations for buying the particular property, For instance, is it a family home? Are the needs of a growing family the reason you’re buying. If so considerations like closeness to schools, access to transport and good amenities or travel time to work are important. Or it could be that you are purchasing an investment property. In situations like this all of the above will be important to ensure rental demand, but a myriad of other considerations come into play like ownership structure (personal, family trust, company, or personal super) plus growth prospects for the suburb, the street and the capacity to perhaps add value to the property through subdivision or renovation. With so many issues competing for a potential buyers attention, it’s little wonder that some less obvious and yet extremely important issues can easily be overlooked, with possible disastrous consequences for the buyer, and in this article, we discuss two commonly overlooked issues – 1. Properly screening a property for any environmental liabilities, and 2. Properly screening a property for any risks associated with the risk profile of the area, with relation to natural hazards issues like floods, bush-fires or cyclones.

Screening for environmental liabilities

When you purchase a piece of land, the environmental liabilities associated with the land are transferred to you alongside the property deed, whether or not you were aware of their existence at the time of purchase. It is possible to buy land without knowing that it is contaminated, or without fully understanding the extent of the contamination or the financial implications. If you don’t do your due diligence, you could end up with an unexpected financial burden. You could be sued by people who are affected by the contamination on your property, or you could spend a fortune trying to clean up the land so as to comply with statutory requirements. Even if a seller is prudent enough to disclose the presence of contaminants on a piece of property, you should still take the initiative to ensure that their assertions are accurate and comprehensive. Only buy a piece of land if you are sure that you can deal with the environmental liabilities that are associated with it.

In order to avoid contaminated land liabilities, you should hire an environmental consultant. An environmental consultant is a professional who assesses a piece of property, identifies any environmental liabilities, and estimates the cost of fixing those liabilities. Environmental consultants usually come up with comprehensive reports which can help you decide whether or not to purchase a piece of land. The consultant will also help you control costs should you choose to invest in a property with manageable levels of contamination. You should involve an environmental consultant before you buy or start developing a property. If environmental liabilities come to light late in the game, you could end up losing a lot of money because of stalled projects, civil lawsuits, or even sanctions from environmental regulators.

Screening for natural hazard risks

The natural hazard risk profile of a place tells you if that place is prone to one or more forms of natural hazards. Whether you are buying a piece of land for commercial development or to build your own home, you need to know if the area where the property is located is prone to natural disasters such as floods or bushfires. If you want to develop a property in an area that is susceptible to natural hazards, your insurance premiums will be higher, you will have a more difficult time getting funds for your project, you will have to deal with restrictive building codes, and as a result, the total cost of development will be much higher.

Some areas in Australia are prone to floods. NSW and Queensland have experienced floods in recent years, while the Hawkesbury-Nepean valley in Sydney has endured many devastating floods in the past. Governments have difficulty resisting development pressures after mitigation infrastructure like dams or levees are built. In the United States inappropriate development behind levees is rife and some consider it to be the driving factor behind increasing flood losses Throughout Australia, different areas are classified according to their flood risk levels. You can use online resources or local council records to find out if a property you intend to purchase is located in a potential flood zone. Banks are usually overly cautious when it comes to giving out loans that are secured by properties in flood zones, but it is still possible to get loans, albeit at higher interest rates.

Bushfires are common in Australia, and there are interactive maps that can tell you if your property is located in an area that is prone to such fires. Properties that are located in areas with massive bushes, shrubs, trees, or even grasslands, may be at risk of burning down due to bushfires. Try to avoid purchasing property in areas that are prone to natural hazards such as floods or bushfires, but if you must, then ensure that your property is properly insured and that you strictly adhere to the recommended building codes when you are developing and maintaining the land.

Reasons to Hire a Geotechnical Engineer

You should know too well that the characteristics of earth and soil matter in the completion of a certain project. If you know next to nothing about it, you can consider hiring a professional geotechnical engineer in order to make sure if the site’s environmental condition is appropriate for your project or not. If you are still contemplating, here are the top reasons as to why you should have them in your team:

They conduct geotechnical investigation

Geotechnical engineers always make sure that they are able to have a geotechnical site investigation in order to determine if the stability of the site will be able to support the project that you are currently working on. A professional geotechnical engineer will explain to you the complexity and considerations of geotechnics, geology, and anything that is involved in your construction. After that, he will provide some suggestions for you to further improve it or a resolution to any geotechnical problems that may arise. Making sure that you have a solid geotechnical design is very important in making sure that your project will last.

They create a concrete foundation

Whether you are planning to build a house for your family, or a new building for your company, you should make sure that your foundation is concrete and durable. A geotechnical engineer will visit the site where you are planning to build the said establishment and make sure that the soil will be able to carry the new building erected on the ground. In that way, you will be able to prevent future problems regarding geological issues. Aside from that, you should really consider it because the government now includes it as a part of their project permit application. If you do not have it, then they would most likely disapprove of your project or will ask you to look for a geotechnical engineer to evaluate the site.

They conducting other engineering services

There are some engineering services that you might also need in the completion of your subjects. These services include the geological evaluation, foundation design, slope stability assessment, retaining wall design, soil erosion assessment, pavement design and dam site investigation in which all of these are dedicated to make sure that the project has no loopholes or to address potential geological projects that may arise.

Of course, if it’s for your business, you might want to make sure that it’s really worthy of your investment or if it’s for your family, you should also consider their safety. Therefore, hiring a geological engineer is beneficial in so many ways because not all of us are experts when it comes to geology.

Now that you know the advantages of having a geological engineer by your side, you should be able to choose a highly-qualified geotechnical engineer that can work with you. Regardless of the purpose of your project, their services are crucial and consider a must because it’s for both the safety of the occupants and durability of the establishment.

How to Choose an Environmental Consultant

Searching for the right environmental consultant has never been stressful for those who know how to do it right. There are several factors that you should consider, regardless the numbers of services and products that they can offer to you and your company. So, how do you know that this person is the one that you are looking for that will serve as your support when it comes to environmental issues? Here are several factors that you need to keep in mind:

Identify your needs

First things first, you should be able to identify what you really need and determine what qualities you are looking for a consultant that you wanted to work with. Make sure that before you go looking for an environmental consultant, you should have clear objectives in mind. With that being said, you should know exactly what you are looking for.

You can start trimming down into the money that you are willing to spend for your environmental consultant and the time duration of the project so that you can consider it to the potential candidate when it comes to assessment and evaluation.

Determine the services that the consultant offers

Different consultants offer different services. You also have to make sure that you have a clear list of services that you need from her/him. It usually varies on the level and areas of expertise of the environmental consultant but usually they are capable of analysing your current situation, responsible for explaining the legislation and on your behalf, seeking for help from the regulators, they should also act as the lead in your staff in order to make sure that they’re doing it right, grab opportunities for upgrade, providing advice and knowledge in their area of expertise, making sure that your permit are being taken care of, submitting feasibility studies, identifying fatal flaws, guiding you until the completion of the project, and making sure that the operation and maintenance system are also being taken care of.

A consultant’s main job is to suggest improvements for you to finish your project accordingly but they shouldn’t be the one manipulating the entire construction. Of course, your opinion and personal preference matters a lot. But since they are experts in their field, they will just help you to make the right decisions.

Seek for recommendation

Aside from looking for consultants online, you should also consider asking your business friends, or neighboring about their environmental consultant because they may be able to name a few especially if they have worked with one before. As much as possible, choose a consultant that is within the local area only in order to avoid hassle and complications.

Submit a proposal

After that, you should create a proposal and allow them to read it. Make sure that everything on the project and construction is written on the proposal so that they will be able to determine the problems that need to be diagnosed and services that they can offer based on your project proposal. You should also let them know the breakdown of total cost for your project because they may be able to improve it or offer suggestions that can help you complete the project accordingly.

If you wanted to enjoy the benefits of having an environmental consultant by your side, you should know how to choose the right one that is able to provide services that you might need in the long run of completing your project. There is a big difference on a project that is guided by an environmental consultant and those that are not.