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News

Updated Government announcement – EWS1 requirement for buildings below 18 metres

Grenfell Tower

Background

In July 2021, the Government announced that EWS1 (External Wall System) forms should not be needed for buildings below 18 metres. They feel a more risk-proportionate approach should be taken to fire safety in blocks of flats. An approach through which genuine life safety risks are tackled swiftly, and where all blocks of flats meet statutory requirements on life safety, but where excessive caution and unnecessary costs are avoided.

Delivering real change for leaseholders requires a concerted effort from all participants in the market including, the Government, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), lenders and fire experts.

Some major UK lenders such as HSBC UK, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and others have said that they welcome the expert advice and this will pave the way towards removing the need for EWS1 forms for buildings below 18 metres.

The Government also announced that the Consolidated Advice Note issued in January 2020 will be withdrawn and new industry guidance will be developed to ensure an appropriate but proportionate risk assessment of the external wall system takes place. This will form part of the fire risk assessment for the building when this is next updated under the Fire Safety Act 2021.

What is ISHA doing?

ISHA has surveyed all our buildings that are above 18 metres.

We will be providing an EWS1 form for buildings above 18 metres and those buildings where remediation work has started before this announcement, regardless of the height of the building.

If your building is below 18 metres and has not yet been surveyed, ISHA will not be providing an EWS1 form. We recognise that at the moment some lenders are still asking for the form, which we would be not able to provide until a survey has been carried out. This is because the Consolidated Advice Note has not yet been withdrawn and therefore RICS has not updated their guidance.

Industry guidance is still being developed so as to ensure an accurate and proportionate risk assessment can be carried out, making sure residents are safe.

Once the guidance has been developed, ISHA will work on a new prioritisation list for buildings to be inspected in line with the new guidance and your fire risk assessment for the building will be updated.

Until such time that the Government withdraws the Consolidated Advice Note, the following guidance applies to EWS1:

Buildings over six storeys

For buildings over six storeys an EWS1 form should be required where:

  • there is cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building or
  • there are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber) or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible material.

Buildings with five or six storeys

For buildings of five or six storeys, an EWS1 form should be required where:

  • there is a significant amount of cladding on the building (where approximately one-quarter of the whole elevation estimated from what is visible standing at ground level is a significant amount) or
  • there are Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM), Metal Composite Materials (MCM) or High Pressure Laminate (HPL) panels on the building* or
  • there are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible materials.

Buildings with four or fewer storeys

For buildings of four storeys or fewer, an EWS1 form should be required where:

  • there are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building*.

More information

To discuss the building safety requirements where you live, contact our Building Safety Team on 07507 878 174 or email buildingsafety@isha.co.uk.

*Metal cladding and ACM/MCM are visually very similar. If metal panel cladding is present, the valuer should confirm with the building owner or managing agent in writing that they are not ACM/MCM, or, if confirmation cannot be obtained, an EWS1 inspection should be requested.

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