EWS1 – an update

What are the government doing to help?

The headlines from the government are that they are going to step in and help homeowners who are caught up in the EWS1 process we discussed previously. Their plans are hopefully set to help 450,000 homeowners affected by the cladding survey.

There will be an agreement that buildings without cladding will no longer be subject to the EWS1 form. The government also is offering funding to help train 2000 more building assessors in order to speed up the heavily delayed valuations. To increase the attractiveness of the role they are also working to ensure professional indemnity insurance is available to those undertaking the assessments.

How are RICS helping as well?

RICS are proposing a major overhaul of the guidance for the surveys. The guidance will create exclusions such as:

  • Buildings of four storeys or less without certain metal cladding can be exempt
  • Buildings of five or six storeys will not require the survey if no more than ¼ of the surface area of the block is cladded and none of the cladding containing certain materials
  • Buildings above six storey will not require a survey if no classing or certain glazes are on the property

The propose guidance is currently at consultation stage with this set to end on 25th January at which point the finalised guidance is expected in February.

This new guidance is based on a specific risk-based criteria where the assumption is being made that a building does not require remediation if it meets their requirements. Discussions with fire safety experts and lenders have helped consolidate previous advice.

What does this mean?

The aims of these changes are to create greater availability of the surveys to flats and to create clearer guidance than that available currently. This will also aid lenders in assessing the flats for their ability to be mortgaged.

An EWS1 form is an external wall fire review. Essentially it is a survey that was created to ensure blocks of flats were not built with combustible materials such as cladding or insulation.

The EWS1 form was intended to prevent tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower Fire. It is recommended for buildings taller than 18 meters, such as apartment blocks and should have been provided by the original developer.

There two different types of EWS1 forms:

  1. Concerns primary materials which have limited combustibility
  2. Concerns primary materials which do not have limited combustibility

 Is an EWS1 form a legal requirement?

Currently an EWS1 form is not a mandatory requirement for developers.

Those that have completed a survey do have to rectify any issues however, they are not under any timescale, with some London Housing Associations believing it will take them around 10 years before all their properties are compliant.

How does an EWS1 form effect my mortgage?

Mortgage lenders are yet to hold a consistent view on the importance of the survey due to its short existence, however a few lenders have issued their own rules. Halifax and Birmingham Midshires for example, now require a survey prior a six-storey property that are affected being purchased.

However, there is a caveat that smaller properties may require a survey to be carried out if the mortgage surveyor expresses concerns.

What is the current Government position on EWS1 forms or surveys?

The government is already being called upon to implement a faster and fairer system as many may struggle to sell or buy these properties currently. It estimated 300,000 flats or apartments requiring an EWS1 survey. With around 300 qualified insured Chartered Fire Engineers to carry out the surveys.

For more information as what this means for your sale or purchase please contact Attwells Solicitors