Cladding External Wall Systems (EWS)

Proportionality in Building Safety - Government response

Government response to the Independent Expert Statement on building safety in medium and lower rise blocks of flats published 22 July 2021. The expert advice reaches five recommendations:

  1. EWS1 forms should not be a requirement on buildings below 18 metres
  2. In the small number of cases where there are known to be concerns these should be addressed primarily through risk management and mitigation
  3. There should be a clear route for residents/leaseholders to challenge costly remediation work and seek assurance that proposals are proportionate and cost effective
  4. Government should work with the shadow Building Safety Regulator to consider how to implement an audit process to check that fire risk assessments are following guidelines
  5. Fire risk assessors, and lenders should not presume that there is significant risk to life unless there is evidence to support this. This would ensure that they respond only to the evidence and adopt a far more proportionate and balanced approach.

 

The EWS process and EWS1 form

Please note: Plymouth Building Control is not permitted to be involved with the assessments or sign the EWS1 form, or freely release information to third parties of completed building regulations full plans applications.

The External Wall Fire Review process requires a fire safety assessment to be conducted by a suitably qualified and competent professional delivering assurance for lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers. The process itself involves a "qualified professional" conducting a fire-risk assessment on the external wall system, before signing a EWS1 form, which is valid for the entire building for 5 years. The EWS1 form is available online on the RICS website.

It is the responsibility of building owners, which the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government have reinforced, to undertake safety checks on their buildings and are provided with a route to remediation where needed. The EWS1 form has been created only for use by valuers for the purposes of lending on residential buildings with a storey above 18m. This is separate to building owner safety checks.

The EWS process and resulting EWS1 form must be completed by a fully qualified member of a relevant professional body within the construction industry with sufficient expertise to identify the relevant materials within the external wall cladding and attachments on residential buildings with a storey above 18m.

Building Control exclusion, Completion Certificate limitations and full plans property

The EWS1 process and EWS1 form is not a core function of the role of Building Control Bodies, therefore Plymouth City Council Building Control are not suitably qualified to neither carry out any assessments nor sign the EWS1 form.

A Building Regulations Completion Certificate (or an Approved Inspector 'Final Certificate') cannot be used as assurance that current external wall cladding meets the standards required in the EWS1 form. Furthermore plans/drawings and other documentation deposited to the local authority are the property of the author and cannot be freely released to third parties. Local authorities do not hold plans/drawings or other documentation relating to Initial Notices from Approved Inspectors.

Required expertise to complete the EWS assessment

The EWS1 form must be completed by a fully qualified member of a relevant professional body within the construction industry with sufficient expertise to identify the relevant materials within the external wall cladding and attachments, including whether fire-resisting cavity barriers and fire-stopping have been installed correctly.

Visit the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Cladding External Wall System (EWS) FAQs for further guidance.

Collection of evidence for the assessment

The collection of evidence for the assessment is up to the expert, however it is expected to be an on-site physical inspection of the in situ fire performance of materials in the cladding.

In addition to a physical inspection the assessment may be supported by records of the current physical fire safety precautions of a building, which should be held by the “Responsible Person” of the building as required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.