While it may be tempting to cut corners (and costs) in due diligence, this may ultimately impact your project’s budget and schedule, as the project moves forward. Whether faced with time constraints due to lease obligations or simply managing a tight budget, an expedited due diligence period may seem like the only option.

If you are forced to pass on a full due diligence package, include these five key items on your checklist to avoid unexpected costs and delays.
1. Geotechnical & Environmental Investigations

Depending on your project scope, some form of a geotechnical investigation is a good idea. Prior to design, it’s important to find out if soil constraints pose risks or design issues. Geotechnical due diligence will disclose information about the physical properties of the underlying soil including rock, historic fill, unsuitable organic layers, seasonal groundwater, and/or buried debris. Environmental due diligence will provide information about existing site challenges including wetlands, floodplains, brownfields, archeological factors, and endangered species. These investigations will help determine the design and estimated cost associated with mitigation, remediation, structural foundation, suitability of existing soils and the design pavement section for structures to be built.

2. Conceptual Grading

As one of the costliest elements of a project, earthwork can be the most significant variable or risk to a development’s ROI. Passing on a conceptual grading plan can be an expensive mistake. The proposed site will often require some earthwork cut and fill to become leveled, and costs to import or export soils are often over looked at the early project stages. A conceptual grading plan will provide an estimate of the amount of earthwork that will be required, and in turn, provide you with a better understanding of projected costs.

3. Utility Service & Impact Fees

Preliminary determination of the proposed utility demand and its impact on the surrounding infrastructure during due diligence positions your civil engineering consultant to better anticipate the need for utility extensions and/or major infrastructure upgrades, both costly and time-consuming items. Preliminary determination of the proposed utility load also results in a more accurate understanding of the permitting that will be required. A qualified consultant can outline major connections and impact fees before starting design, allowing you to budget properly.

4. Cursory Traffic Access Review

Traffic issues and objections are often the largest obstacles to a smooth approval process and can create the most significant post-construction liability. Engaging a traffic engineer during due diligence helps provide benchmarks for proper design of both the site and adjacent roadways, as well as assisting the developer in establishing a general plan for the anticipated permitting path as it relates to the project’s entitlement schedule.

5. Pre-Application Meetings (Jurisdictional Involvement)

Get ahead of the game by meeting with the appropriate jurisdictional agencies during due diligence. Their feedback on the proposed development will provide your design consultants and you with the opportunity to consider and implement any changes or design requirements prior to formal submissions and public hearings. Post-design changes are costly — having this valuable feedback upfront is a proactive way of keeping your budget and schedule in check.

Questions about due diligence checklists, process and timelines? Contact one of Bohler's land development specialists today.