EWS1 (External Wall System) forms are dominating many freeholders’ and property managers’ lives right now – and the requirement to provide them to lenders is having a devastating impact on residents.
The Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 has completely changed the building safety landscape – and has pushed fire protection right to the top of the property agenda. It is now impossible to get a mortgage on a building higher than 18 metres (around five to six floors) without an EWS1 form to certify that the cladding on residential blocks is safe.
Different mortgage lenders have adopted different approaches but, for most leaseholders living in high-rise blocks, if you can’t produce this form your lender will put your mortgage interest rates up until you can. Some leaseholders are now paying more than £100 extra interest a month while waiting for these forms. And re-mortgaging on high rise residential buildings without a signed EWS1 form is also being denied by high street banks
Getting blocks certified
Ringley Group managing director Mary-Anne Bowring has plenty of experience of working with lenders and building owners to get blocks certified – and it’s far from easy. “The journey from applying for an EWS1 form to getting it probably takes around two and a half months. This is because the form requires us to understand the full system of the cladding, including the brackets, the fixings, the insulation behind the walls, etc,” explains Mary-Anne.
“It’s about the total combustibility of the system. Immediately post-Grenfell, when the Building Research Establishment (BRE) were testing these buildings for free, it was just about the cladding; now we’ve moved on from that. A lot of us are now having to retest buildings that have already been tested, even though we know the cladding on the outside is fine. Now we have to go back and retest the insulation in these buildings,” she says.
Join the UKAA webinar to boost your knowledge
On 5 May, Mary-Anne is hosting an online webinar for the UKAA, that will look at the requirements of the EWS1 form in detail plus other aspects of the major building safety reforms which have been announced in response to Grenfell. This is your opportunity to make sure you’re completely up-to-date on the latest requirements.
During the webinar, EWS1 – what’s it all about, Mary-Anne will provide an update on funding for removal of combustible cladding and will get you up to speed on the new approach to building safety. You will find out why this form is required, what is needed to get it and how it will affect YOU as a developer/freeholder.
UKAA members can join the webinar free of charge. Click here for more details.