You can find clues about potential contaminants from a property's history. If you're planning to buy real estate, research the past uses of the property first, especially if small or home-based businesses have operated there.
The property inspection must show due diligence. That means you must show that you investigated the property fully before buying or leasing it and did not find any contamination. If an inspection is not done with due diligence, you may be liable for cleaning up any contamination that might be found later.
For more detailed information, please read Contaminated Property Considerations: Focus on Real Estate Transactions.
Other steps for commercial properties
Small business owners should also consider conducting a 'Phase I Site Assessment’ (often done by a contractor). See Selecting an Environmental Consulting Firm.
We provide this guide as a service to the public. Please be aware that it is not exhaustive and you may also need to obtain information from other sources. Subject matter experts have completed a quality review of the information in this guide, but there is no assurance that it is free from errors. This guide cannot be relied upon to create rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party in litigation with the state of Washington.