If you're looking at buying land on which to build, there are a number of things about which you need to feel confident before you move forward. One big detail to consider is the condition of the soil on the land. The last thing that you want is to buy land that you later learn is contaminated, which can either leave you facing hefty decontamination costs or the likelihood that you'll sell the land for a fraction of what you paid for it. A real estate attorney can arrange an environmental assessment to check on the condition of the soil for you. This is especially important if you're buying commercially zoned land that previously had one of these structures on it.
Buying a piece of land that a gas station formerly occupied can be a risky decision. Even if there was no large-scale, documented gas leak that took place on this land, the soil may still be contaminated from gas. For example, it's common for a motorist who is filling his or her car to spill a few drops of gas while moving the nozzle between the car and the pump. This behavior, repeated many times a day for several years, can result in a lot of gas soaking into the ground. An environmental assessment will determine whether the soil is indeed contaminated or not.
You'll also want to get help from a real estate attorney who can organize an environmental assessment if you're looking to buy land that an automotive garage used to sit on. Motor oil and a long list of other fluids and lubricants may have soaked into the ground either from vehicles that were dripping or perhaps even from unscrupulous mechanics who dumped small containers of oil into the ground to avoid paying for haul-away and safe-disposal fees.
If any type of production plant once sat on the parcel of land that you have your sights set on, an environmental assessment will give you the information that you need to make the right decision. Depending on what the plant produced, there may have been harmful by-products of the production process that leached into the soil. Over time, this could have created soil on the property that was toxic to some degree. For example, if the production plant worked with lead several decades ago, perhaps producing lead-based paint, there may still be remnants of lead in the ground.