In recent months we have had several clients contacting us and asking for advice on completing an EWS1 form in relation to the external cladding of their building.
What is an EWS1 form?
An EWS1 form is a way for a residential building owner to confirm that the external wall system on their building has been assessed for safety by a suitable expert. The process involves the building expert conducting a fire-risk assessment on the external wall system (the EWS) before signing the EWS1 form. The EWS1 form is valid for the entire building for 5 years.
Originally, not every building required an EWS1 form only those above 18m in height and even then only those with potentially unsafe combustible material on the exterior needed one.
In January 2020 the government released more advice on the measures that building owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe. This has brought all buildings into scope meaning some buildings below 18m in height, which have ‘specific concerns’, may now require an EWS1 form. A ‘specific concern’ could refer to the cladding or it could refer to a low-rise building with balconies that contain some form of combustible material.
Background to EWS1 forms
The introduction of the EWS1 form is a result of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, which took place in 2017 and where 72 people died.
The fire originally broke out in the kitchen of a fourth floor flat in the 23-story tower but within minutes had spread up the exterior of the building. The tower’s external cladding system has been blamed for the rapid spread of the fire that engulfed the whole building.
The EWS1 form was designed following Government advice regarding external wall systems on buildings above 18m in height to ensure they are assessed for safety, which in turn, allows lenders to offer mortgages to those buying flats within the building.
In recent months it has been requested by buyers who are purchasing flats within a building that is 18m or more in height. It is worth noting that an EWS1 form relates to the whole building and not individual flats. If you are selling your flat and the buyer requests an EWS1 form, you need to refer the query to the building’s freeholder.
If you would like advice on EWS1 forms contact MCP and we can advise on the best way to proceed.