EXTERNAL WALL SURVEY FORM (EWS1) EXPLAINED

All the information you need about the EWS1 form: its benefits, application process, and results.

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EXTERNAL WALL SURVEY (EWS1 FORM)

The safety assessment and remediation of high-rise buildings have been carefully considered following the Grenfell fire disaster and the Hackitt Report on Building a Safer Future. Although the focus was on Aluminium Composite Material during the initial phase following the tragedy, attention to other types of cladding was drawn over time. Building owners were required to examine and confirm the fire safety of all external wall systems.

In 2019, lenders began to be hesitant to approve mortgage applications without assuring the safety of exterior wall systems. With the rising number of mortgage rejections, sales started to deteriorate.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors developed the External Wall Fire Review form (EWS1) in response to this matter and in December 2019. It is defined as an “industry-wide valuation process which will help people buy and sell homes and re-mortgage in buildings above 18 metres (six storeys).”  The UK finance and Building Safety Association endorse the EWS1.

The EWS1 is not required to sell most flats below 18 metres as the safety of the wall system can be easily assessed by the valuer. However, the EWS1 process is prompted in 5-6% of these buildings.

In Scotland, this is called a Single Building Assessment.

What is an EWS1 form?

EWS1 stands for External Wall Survey. Although it is not a statutory requirement, the information produced is used for validation procedures. The outer wall of a building, cladding, insulation, and firebreak systems comprise the external wall system. The EWS1 form is created to be used for residential buildings such as student accommodation and dormitories, care homes, and similar blocks of flats.

The EWS1 survey form documents the assessments that have taken place on residential buildings 18 metres or taller in a coherent and comprehensive structure. The assessments are carried out by qualified professionals such as a Chartered Construction Professional as advised in the RICS guidance.

Each building requires a single evaluation and the EWS1 form has a validity of 5 years once completed, depending on refurbishments and alterations.

Separate EWS1 may be required for individual flats in Scotland as the legal system is different.

Each building or block requires an EWS1 form every five years. This covers all renovation and alterations done to the building, including maintenance. A new EWS1 is required within five years if significant work has been carried out in a property that affects the initial conclusions. The Fire Safety Act 2021 requires the owners of all multi-storeyed buildings in England to conduct updated fire risk assessments, including the external wall system assessment where applicable.

The EWS1 process

The building owner requests the process if the wall system materials are unknown. This enables to confirm that the property is safe and mortgageable. The purchasers and lenders are also assured of the property’s market value through the EWS1.

After the EWS1 completion

An EWS1 assessment has five potential results. Category A includes the buildings with external wall materials that are not likely to be combustible. According to RICS, further actions are not expected to be taken with A1 and A2 findings. Remedial works may be needed on attachments, like balconies, in an A3 finding. Category B is applicable where combustible materials are present. No remedial work is necessary of the engineer has determined that the fire risk is low. However, a B2 finding indicates that the fire safety is not up to standard, and interim measures must be taken.

Scotland’s Single Building Assessment

Scotland’s single building assessment is a Pilot Scheme that assesses the buildings where interests have been expressed. The Scheme strongly tests the process, methods, work plans, and categories in the single building assessment process. This ensures that the Scheme maintains integrity and has a strong base of confidence when fully launched. The Pilot Scheme currently includes 25 buildings, and the process is overseen by the Scottish Government’s Cladding Remediation Unit and a Cladding Stakeholder Group. It is predicted that the SBA certification will embrace the EWS1 certification.

Read more on the SBA here.

For information on EWS1, waking watch, V-Fire common fire alarm system, or building fire safety, get in touch with us today on 0345 88 88 333 or by clicking the button below to email us.