Last edited 24 Nov 2020

EWS1 forms not required for buildings without cladding

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[edit] Introduction

The Government has taken steps to alleviate the need for EWS1 (External Wall System) forms for owners of flats in buildings without cladding to sell or re-mortgage their property. The removal of the requirement will also apply to other types of buildings without cladding. The agreement between the Government and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) was reached on 21 November 2020, and follows the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire and the subsequent requirement to remove unsafe cladding from high-rise residential buildings.

[edit] Purpose of EWS1

The EWS1 is an external wall fire review process used to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats. For flats without cladding, the EWS1 form requirement may have created an obstacle for people who were trying to sell or re-mortgage their homes.

[edit] Additional building assessors needed

The Government is also providing additional funds to train more assessors, speeding up the valuation process for homeowners in cases where an EWS1 form is required. This is part of a wider Government-led solution to support those homeowners who have unsafe cladding on their buildings.

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This training initiative will be delivered by RICS from January 2021 and will mean up to 200 additional assessors will be qualified to carry out the EWS1 assessment within a month, 900 within three months and 2,000 within six months.

RICS CEO Sean Tompkins said: "We recognise the acute market shortage of fire engineers to carry out EWS1 assessments and welcome the Government’s support on working with us to upskill other regulated professions, such as Chartered Building Surveyors, to create additional capacity in the market."

The EWS training programme was announced ahead of the Fire Safety Bill, which is set to receive Royal Assent in 2021. The EWS Assessment certificate programme is only suitable for Chartered Surveyors working in Building Surveying or Building Control in the UK.

[edit] Purpose of ongoing revisions

Building owners are legally required to undertake fire risk assessments on all blocks of flats following supplementary guidance published by the Government. Buildings over 18m or those which require specialist testing will still require a qualified fire safety engineer to carry out the EWS1 assessments. RICS will be working with lenders, valuers and fire safety bodies to develop new advice for surveyors.

This will enable surveyors to take a more proportionate approach and reduce the number of buildings where an EWS1 assessment is needed. The Government is seeking ways to address ongoing concerns around the availability of professional indemnity insurance. It supports industry’s progress on developing a portal where lenders, valuers and leaseholders will be able to find out if their building already has an existing EWS1, thereby reducing the demand for duplicate forms.

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