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As a response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, in 2019 the Government launched the External Wall System Fire Review, more commonly known as the EWS1 form to assess the safety of external cladding. There is currently a £4.5bn Building Safety Fund available to support the removal of unsafe cladding from high rise buildings in England, designed to protect leaseholders from crippling fire safety remediation bills.
In this post we cover the basics of what an EWS1 form is, when it is required and what is needed to complete it, as well as why construction SaaS can enable the completion process and ensure supporting evidence needed for sign off is easily accessible and in one place.
The building owner or managing agent has responsibility for determining what materials are on their building. They need to confirm what the external wall system is made up of and whether further assessment is required.
The EWS process, and subsequent form, is a way for a building owner to prove that an external wall system [EWS] on residential buildings containing flats has been assessed for safety by a suitable expert, in line with government guidance. The external wall system comprises the outside wall of a residential building and includes the cladding, insulation, fire-stops and fire barriers as well as attachments such as balconies. Safety is measured by the fire resistance of the external walls.
No, it is not a legal requirement for any building. However, if the building is defined as ‘higher risk’ under the Building Safety Act – i.e. over 18m or seven stories tall – it is highly likely one will be requested if an in-scope property is bought, sold or mortgaged.
No. Each EWS1 form is valid for an entire block / building. Each block will require its own EWS1 form.
The EWS1 Form is valid for five years but will need to be reassessed and re-issued if there are significant changes made to the external wall or attachments.
The questions are fairly straightforward and only ask for the property’s address and whether Option A [no combustible materials are detected] or Option B [combustible materials are present in the external wall system] is applicable to the building. There are a series of sub-questions, with Option A asking if there is an existing risk assessment or that no combustible materials are present and Option B asking whether remedial action is required.
Forms where option A is selected can be signed off by suitably qualified surveyors, architects and engineers. Option B forms will need to be completed by somebody with an expertise in fire risk assessment, such as a Chartered or Incorporated Engineer from the Institution of Fire Engineers [IFE].
Relevant documentation will need to be collated, reviewed and submitted to support the EWS1 Form application. Photographic evidence may also be required. If sufficient documentation is not available intrusive tests may be required including opening up the external wall and cladding to assess the construction make up and quality of installation.
A centralised platform to store the forms, photographic evidence and supporting documentation is ideal. This means evidence can be matched and traced back to buildings, location and dwellings and easily shared and updated for future reassessments.
Zutec has developed a configurable out-of-the-box Quality Management solution for cladding remediation. A central platform that helps clients assess legacy buildings, identify necessary remediation action, and ensure that re-work done on properties is to the highest standard, not only to reduce legacy issues but to deliver safer housing. Having one place to schedule, assess and record building reviews, store documented evidence of building work, and submit photographic evidence to assessors speeds up the sign off process and the release of the all important EWS1 form.