Some high-rise developments across the UK have been built with unsafe cladding. This was thrust into the forefront after the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017. Since then, there have been numerous procedures implemented to help update building safety, especially in multi-storey buildings.
Tackling fire safety concerns in the industry
With the introduction of the EWS1 form, the government brought forward a new process to help evaluate blocks of flats with fire safety concerns. This was brought forward to find the high-risk properties affected by dangerous cladding and to help remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
For developments with the highest floor at 18 metres or higher above ground level or there are specific concerns, this form became particularly important. However, some lenders started asking valuers to use this form for all leasehold flats in blocks, making it a requirement when selling or re-mortgaging these kinds of properties.
As the new form brought forward additional fire safety considerations, the government expanded its advice on fire safety assessment requirements in January 2020 to potentially include all buildings with external wall systems. An external wall system is an outside wall of a building and includes the cladding, insulation and fire break systems.
Some lenders still refused mortgage applications for properties in any multi-storey buildings without the full EWS1 certificate. With the need for qualified surveyors to complete the form and certificate, there had also been a shortage of surveyors who could undertake this for property valuations and mortgage applications.
On 8 March 2021, RICS published new guidance, which lists circumstances that an EWS1 form should be required. Lenders are being urged to follow this guidance and work with their valuers to implement them, instead of requiring the form of all blocks of flats.
What is an EWS1 Form?
The EWS1 (External Wall Fire Review) form provides a method to assess a property’s fire risk and determine if a building has Aluminium Composite Material cladding, which was implicated in the Grenfell Fire.
This form is used to record what assessments have been carried out on the external walls of residential apartment buildings. It provides a consistent and universal way to record this. The assessment form is also designed to provide a clear “safe” or “unsafe” certificate and will state if remedial works are required.
The EWS1 form can only be completed by a designated competent professional. There are strictly defined criteria set out by the government. The EWS1 form was developed through a wide range of stakeholders and has been endorsed by the Building Societies Association, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and UK Finance.
Salboy follows modern standards
Safety needs to be of the utmost importance for any property development. It’s imperative that people feel safe in their homes. And when purchasing a new-build property, do your research on the property developer. Ensure they have a good reputation, have EWS1 forms in place where necessary and are following the highest of safety standards.
At Salboy, we have a proven track record for delivering high-quality, first class developments without compromise. Our property developments are built to high modern standards with EWS1 forms already in place. When buying or investing in our developments, you don’t have to worry about fire safety being an issue for you or your tenants.
New government cladding fund
Earlier in 2021, the government announced a five-point plan to bring an end to unsafe cladding, which included £5bn worth of investment for building safety. The government will pay for the removal of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in buildings 18 metres and over in England. The funding for this is on the way.
Buildings between 11 and 18 metres will be included in a scheme that will pay for cladding removal through long-term, low interest, government-backed financing. This range of funding will provide reassurance to homeowners and provide more confidence to them and lenders.
These funding packages are especially important for property owners who have been chained to a property they can’t sell or remortgage due to the fire safety concerns. However, some safety defects aren’t covered, which could leave leaseholders to have to pay for those repairs themselves.
This is a cautionary tale for all developers and property owners going forward. EWS1 forms are helping ensure apartment blocks are up to the latest fire safety standards. Before buying any property, it’s recommended to seek professional legal advice.
At Salboy, we prioritise high health and safety standards and future-proofing developments. Our new builds have been designed in this era of high scrutiny, so you can buy with confidence.
We have delivered more than 2,400 properties, including five developments in the past 12 months. We are experienced in dealing with modern standards and getting appropriate documentation in place, such as the EWS1 form.
If you are interested in purchasing a property in Greater Manchester built to the highest standards, check out our range of property developments. Give us a call on +44(0) 161 884 3183 or send us a message online.