What are EWS1s?

These surveys, for those who do not know, were developed by RICS. They are an assessment of the safety of external wall systems for high rise multi occupancy residential blocks. The external wall system relates to any cladding, insulation, fire break systems etc.

The survey, and its resulting certificate, is designed to provide assurance for lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers – all of whom are concerned over the safety of external wall systems following the Grenfell fire disaster.

What is the problem?

The form was originally designed for buildings over 18m in height, however, the situation become rather out of control with lenders requesting the survey on buildings which were not only shorter, but which did not have any relevant external systems at all.

There are very few (estimated only 300) surveyors who are suitably qualified to carry out the assessment, this means they simply cannot meet the demand. Not only that, due to the risk carried by getting this certification wrong, those few surveyors were also struggling to get professional indemnity insurance.

RICS were required to look into this to provide some clarity as to when these forms are needed to be done, this was published in March of this year.

When does the guidance say an EWS1 required?

The criteria for when a form is needed is as per below:

For buildings over six storeys:

  • Where there is cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building or
  •  Where there are balconies which stack above each other and the balustrades (handrails) and decking are constructed with        composite materials (e.g. timber) or the balcony is constructed or linked with combustible material.

For building of five or six storeys:

  •  Where there is a significant amount of cladding (approx.. one quarter of whole elevation) or
  • Where there are ACM (Aluminium Composite Material), MCM (metal composite material) or HPL (high pressure laminate) panels on the building or
  • Where there are balconies which stack above each other and the balustrades (handrails) and decking are constructed with composite materials (e.g timber) or the balcony is constructed or linked with combustible material.

For buildings of four stores or fewer:

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

Do you need help?
If you have any queries relating to EWS1, whether you are a contractor, leaseholder, freeholder or managing agent, please contact a member of our building safety team: Ian Seeley, Joe Brightman, Molly Frankham, James King or email [email protected]

Full link to guidance here.