External Wall System inspection forms or EWS1 forms are currently required by lenders who are members of the UK Finance or the Building Societies Association. Introduced in December 2019, the forms are required for buildings over 18 metres as part of external wall fire reviews to check for the presence of cladding in or on a building.
The requirement for the form is causing delays and long wait times for leaseholders who wish to remortgage or sell their property. The form may also identify issues that need rectifying before lenders are willing to engage with leaseholders. This may have a substantial financial impact.
There is no legal requirement for any landlord or freeholder to produce these forms, but without them, leaseholders cannot obtain lending. The current legislative requirement for landlords is to ensure regular Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) are carried out. FRAs are available on request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Based on the most recent guidance issued by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) [guidance note Valuation of properties in multi-storey, multi-occupancy residential buildings with cladding, March 2021] our Fire Risk Assessor has started issuing reports to us advising whether an EWS1 assessment is required or not. All reports for buildings over 18 metres are now complete, and a list of the properties affected is available to view here.
EWS1 route to compliance
- Visual External Wall System (Cladding) Surveys: April – July 2021
- List of Lewisham Homes managed properties requiring an intrusive EWS1 Survey: Available now
- Procurement and appointment of a suitably qualified professionals: August – December 2021
- Commencement and production of EWS1 forms: January 2022 – January 2023
- Remediation of defective external wall systems: January 2022 – March 2033
The rationale for carrying out a survey is based on both a risk-based approach (all buildings of 6 storeys and above) and also considers individual cases. This includes all buildings where we have received enquiries from Leaseholders irrespective of the height of the building.
Additional buildings under 6 storeys are being added to the surveying programme as and when new enquiries are received from leaseholders.
The decision on whether or not an EWS1 is required is determined by the current RICS guidance. The guidance and decision tree can be found on the RICS website.
Where an EWS1 form is not required our Home Ownership Team will respond to leaseholders advising them that an EWS1 is not required for their building. This will be based on the latest guidance from RICS accompanied by a report from our fire risk assessors advising the same.
Where an EWS1 is required, our Homeownership Team will respond to leaseholders advising that an EWS1 is required to their building and follow the process and timelines detailed above.
EWS1 forms can only be completed by a chartered fire engineer with sufficient expertise to identify the relevant materials within the external wall cladding and attachments. This includes whether fire resisting cavity barriers and fire stopping have been installed correctly.
Only qualified chartered members of the relevant professional bodies such as IFE and RICS will have the necessary self-assessed competence and professional indemnity insurance to carry out this work.
Due to current demand of EWS1 forms and the limited number of qualified professionals across the industry, we envisage long lead times in quoting for works and appointing a supplier.
We anticipate we will need in the region of 30-40 EWS1 intrusive surveys to be undertaken across the stock we manage. Based on undertaking one EWS1 survey per week, it will take approx. 12 months for all surveys and reports to be completed.
Remediation of defective External Wall Systems
The timescales for remediation are subject to the risk posed to our residents and the funding available.
Until the findings of the EWS1 surveys are identified, we are unable to forecast the total budget requirements for remediation works nor timescales in resolving non-compliant issues.
Consideration will need to be given for possible mitigation measures to be implemented until the external wall system can be suitably remediated.
Examples of possible mitigation includes but is not limited to:
- Type 4 FRA’s – this is an intrusive and destructive survey to both the common areas within the building and within selected dwellings to inspect for compartmentation breaches.
- Installation of common area fire alarm system
- Fire Stopping to all common areas
- Upgrading of BS5839 Pt 6 fire alarm detection within dwellings to LD1 standard This will involve upgrading or replacing the existing fire alarm system within dwellings. All occupied rooms will have a smoke detector fitted to provide early warning to residents in the event of a fire within their household. This will involve the installation of an upgraded system into both tenants and leaseholders’ flats.
- Installation of sprinkler systems
- Waking watch (Worst case Scenario)
We will talk to residents where remediation works are required. In addition, where costs of remediation works are to be passed on to leaseholders, we will carry out statutory consultation as required by legislation.
We fully appreciate the impact the requirement of an EWS1 form is having on our leaseholders. Please be assured we will do all we can to support those leaseholders who are required to have an EWS1 form. We will look at each case individually in order to consider each situation for our leaseholders. We have instructed our fire risk assessors to undertake initial visual external wall system surveys to all buildings where enquires have been received to date, this is irrespective of the height of the building.
As outlined above, we expect to receive the results for the initial 100 buildings by 30 June 2021 with additional buildings under 6 storeys added to the surveying programme as and when new enquires are received from leaseholders.
The cost of providing a EWS1 form
It is estimated each EWS1 will cost in the region of £15-£20k. (Including all enabling works but not remediation). We do not know yet if the cost for producing an EWS1 form will be passed on to leaseholders and if so, how they will be apportioned.
If you do need an EWS1 form, please contact us at HOS@lewishamhomes.org.uk If after looking at the decision tree you are still unsure whether you need an EWS1 form, please contact us and we will let you know.
We hope you do not have cause to complain about our EWS1 service. However, should the need arise, we will do all we can to put things right in a timely manner. We will look into the individual circumstances of the matter and provide specific responses to each point raised. Find out more about our complaints process