Phase 1 Desk Study

desk study

Save time and money across your next project by identifying potential risks or contaminants on your site with a Phase 1 Desk Study Report. IBEX CE provides the opportunity to collaborate with professional geotechnical engineers who will persist to identify any risks that could interfere with the integrity of your development. 

Our team has a keen eye for detail and is committed to providing thoroughly efficient services. Every member of the team is a chartered engineer and follows the latest regulations to complete your desk study to the highest standards. 

Discover more information about our site investigation methods, or book your desk study with IBEX CE today to receive affordable rates and outstanding service.

What is a Phase 1 Desk Study?

Desk study reports offer an introductory insight into potentially significant risks across your specified construction site. The report is mandatory by many local planning authorities before the commencement of a proposed development. As a preliminary assessment of geotechnical risks or contamination hazards, many local planning departments accept this report to sign off on planning applications.

During the process of a Phase 1 Desk Study, a robust analysis of published information regarding the site’s historical and geological environment is performed. The purpose of the study is to identify geotechnical risks and potential contaminants that may pose health risks to humans, vegetation, water systems, structures and services. The findings and identification of potentially significant risks are utilised in the planning of subsequent phases of site investigation.

factors of safety

Do I need a Phase 1 Desk Study?

There are various benefits and limitations to the utility of Phase 1 Desk Studies. However, along with requirements from your local planning authority, IBEX Phase 1 Desk Study Reports report offers vital information in regards to the safety of human health and the wider environmental settings.

  • Requirement by the local planning authority

Phase 1 preliminary risk assessments are frequently required as a component of planning applications or to satisfy specific planning conditions. This is often required to confirm a lack of or presence of contamination within the boundaries of the proposed site.

Each local planning authority will outline its specific local requirements in order to grant its approved planning permission.

  • Due Diligence

For commercial developments or construction of residential properties, you may find that buyers require the completion of a Phase 1 Desk Study Report. This is to identify potential hazards or obligations that the purchaser will be taking responsibility for.

The National House Building Council (NHBC) also often requests Phase 1 Desk Study Reports in order to satisfy the warranty provider.

How long does it take to produce a Phase 1 Desk Study Report?

At IBEX Consulting Engineers, we pride ourselves on providing cost-effective and time-efficient services. We know that it is vitally important to address risks in a timely manner so you can reach your deadlines.

Whilst site investigations and desk studies might seem like a waste of your time, they can become invaluable if potential contamination or ground instability is identified.


testing services

For desk studies including walkover site visits, we aim to provide the results of your report within 2 working days. This provides sufficient time to efficiently gather and assess the data and to provide detailed yet concise results.

In many cases, Phase 1 Desk Study Reports are enough to satisfy the requirements of your local authority planning department or warranty provider. However, if further investigation is required, IBEX CE will re-assess your quotation to offer a cost-effective price for Phase 2 Intrusive investigations as well as remediation and validation.

Contents of a Phase 1 desk study.

  • Report summary

Within IBEX Phase 1 Desk Study Report, you’ll discover a summary of the findings within the executive summary. This will outline key findings and recommendations for further site investigation where/if necessary.

  • Site Walkover

Whilst the desk study is not an intrusive site investigation, your specialist IBEX geotechnical consultant will conduct a site walkover survey. This involves visiting the site to gather further information to supplement the findings of the desktop study.

During the site visit, your consultant will record pertinent features, geotechnical hazards or site constraints that are relevant to the desk study and future site works (Phase 2 Intrusive Investigation). This could include potential geohazards, contaminated land, subsidence and deformations. Further environmental aspects such as invasive Japanese knotweeds (if any) or existing features on-site will also be recorded.

  • Historical review

Detailed information regarding the site’s historical uses is analysed in-depth to provide a qualitative risk assessment of contaminated land, flood risk assessment and any prior pollution incidents.

Details in relation to previous structures, ordnance and the surrounding area are taken into account. Further details are gathered from published information and materials such as aerial photographs and historical maps.

  • Geological appraisal

A desktop review of background information may reveal specific materials or geological inconsistencies within the proposed development location. Using British Geological Survey mapping we can provide an assessment of the recorded subgrade materials and various anomalies.

Information could reveal traces of man-made ground, superficial natural strata, bedrock, mining history, flood risks, drainage, natural ground subsidence risks or radon gas risks. This information will guide you in the planning of your project, as well as necessary future site investigation.

  • Environmental assessment

Analysis of the environmental setting is used to identify land contamination, pollution incidents and flooding risks to ensure the safety and future risks of your site location.

  • Preliminary conceptual site model

Combining the information gathered throughout the desk study, a diagrammatic or written conceptual site model is produced. The aim of this section of the report is to identify where risks could be present and how they interact.

The basis of conceptual site models is focused on contaminant linkage (pollution source-pathway-receptor). There are three components that, when combined, become active and generate a risk for human health and the surrounding environmental setting. These factors include the source of the contaminant, the pathway by which a receptor could be exposed to the contaminant and the receptor, such as a person, organism or controlled waters.

A preliminary conceptual site model allows your consultant to identify where active contaminant linkages are and how to address these with further assessment.

How to get a quote from IBEX CE

Book a cost-effective Phase 1 Desk Study Report with IBEX Consulting Engineers. Get in touch via phone call or complete our simple contact form to hear from one of our experienced chartered engineers.

We cater our services directly to your site specifications and needs. Our desk study services aim to assist you throughout the planning process by identifying risks and recommending further assessment or mediation. 

Get your quote now to discover the UK’s most efficient ground investigation services.

Contact Us

‘Geotechnical and Environmental Specialists’

Abbey House, 25 Clarendon Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1QZ

01737 452622 (ext.2622)