Does your flat require an EWS1 form? Find out below.
After the Grenfell Tower fire of 2017, the UK Government were forced to take immediate action. With 72 people dead and many more injured, it was imperative that they acted quickly. Inquiries were set up to identify areas of concern regarding the cladding on the outside of the building. This was soon found to be faulty, and in fact, contributed to the spreading of the fire.
A few short years later, and the government has developed a provision put in place to ensure that Grenfell Tower never happens again. Fire safety inspections now include the external cladding on any given property. As a result of all this, the government developed the external wall system. But what is it? And do you need it if you intend to buy or sell your flat? Let’s find out.
What Does EWS Mean?
The EWS abbreviation stands for external wall system. This is an umbrella term we used to describe any cladding or external facades which we might place on a building to improve appearance or structural integrity. Cladding is added to walls to protect them from damage and to maintain thermal properties of the building.
What’s an EWS1 form?
In response to demand from the public, the government developed the EWS certification as a way of assuring lenders and assessors that a property is fire safe. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, property assessors were finding buildings that had external cladding to be valueless. Assessors and lenders then looked to the government expressly for a solution to this issue. The government introduced the EWS1 form as a way of ensuring properties were fire safe.
How do I know if I need one?
You will need to have an EWS1 cladding assessment carried out on your building or property to determine if your cladding is safe. As a broad rule, the following buildings will be at risk and should need EWS1 certification:
- If your building is over 6 storeys and has cladding or balconies which are stacked on top of one another.
- If your building is 5+ storeys with more than 25% of the surface area clad, using ACM, HPL, or MCM panels.
- Any building using ACM, HPL or MCM panels.
If your home matches any of the above criteria, then you will need EWS1 assessment. Once you have found a qualified construction officer or local fire safety officer who can carry out the checks, you then need to wait and hear what their conclusion is. If they find that yes, you do need the form, you will have to request it from the government. If using an experienced company, they will do this on your behalf.
What happens if I do need an EWS1 form?
If your home does need an EWS1 form, it will have to be reassessed every five years. The form will be valid for your entire building and not just your flat. Unfortunately, if the assessment identifies that you do have dangerous cladding on your building, you must carry out remedial works before you sell. It would be unwise to buy a flat that needed those works conducted.
If you find you do need remedial works, hiring a professional firm to remove cladding from the building is the best way to meet the criteria for EWS safety. You might be eligible for some of the funding the government gives out to help private property owners to cover the costs of cladding remediation. You can find out if this applies to you.