EWS1 process explained

In 2019 many mortgage providers began to make requests for evidence, certification and information about the safety of external wall systems to high rise residential buildings.

Valuers began to consider blocks without evidence of compliance with the most recent guidance as being of zero value. This meant that many leaseholders were unable to sell or re-mortgage their properties.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors responded to this by introducing the External Wall System 1 (EWS1). Obtaining the form confirms the external wall system has been assessed as safe by a qualified professional and provides assurance to lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers.

The majority of lenders now request an EWS1 form to provide mortgages for buildings over 18m, but requests for buildings under this threshold are increasing. Government issued advice in November 2020 that EWS1 forms would not be required for buildings without cladding, however in our experience lenders have yet to accept this new guidance.

An EWS2 form for buildings under 18m is also being considered.

  • Why do I need an EWS1 form?

    If you are looking to buy or sell, remortgage or staircase at a property where lenders require an EWS1 form, you will not be able to secure finance until that form is obtained. If you are unsure of the need to provide an EWS1 form, please contact your mortgage provider.

  • Who carries out the assessment?

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

  • If I receive an EWS1 form does this mean no works are required to my property?

    Not necessarily, there are instances whereby an EWS1 form is issued confirming the building is of sufficiently low risk but works may still be required to the external walls.

    An EWS1 Form confirms that, in the opinion of the relevant expert providing the EWS1 form, the building either contains no combustible materials or is of sufficiently low risk. EWS1 forms do not provide evidence of Building Regulation Compliance.

    During the external investigation surveys certain defects and non-compliances may be identified. Where defective works and compliance issues have been identified the appointed expert may still sign off an EWS1 form where these defects are considered insignificant. In this instance NHG may still carry out remedial works to achieve compliance and to rectify defects if required.

    There are also different ratings for EWS1 forms. They can be provided as A1, A2, or B1 rated.

  • What do the ratings mean?
    • A1 – There is no significant quantity of combustible materials
    • A2 – External wall materials are unlikely to support combustion and there is an appropriate risk assessment confirming that no remedial works are required
    • B1 – Combustible material are present but the fire risk is sufficiently low that no remediation works are required
  • When will the survey happen for my block?

    This is a national issue and there are thousands of affected buildings and only a limited number of qualified experts. We have a building safety programme with buildings prioritised on criteria such as building height, construction materials and evacuation strategy. If you have not yet been contacted to explain where your building fits into that programme, contact your local officer.

  • Can I get an EWS1 form for my individual property?

    No, an EWS1 form is for an entire block.

  • Can I initiate the EWS1 process as a resident?

    No, the process is for building owners to undertake.

  • Does a “nil” valuation mean a flat is worthless?

    No, ‘nil valuations’ are used in the process of valuing a property for mortgage lending purposes. Where a valuer is unable to provide a value at that time, often a nil valuation signals the lender requires further information, rather than a property being unsellable.

  • How long is the EWS1 form valid for?

    The EWS1 form is valid for five years. This is intended to capture any renovation or adaptation work carried out, as well as maintenance during that period. However, if substantial works are carried out to a building, a new EWS1 form may be required sooner.

  • Will my lender accept the form?

    Your lender should accept an EWS1 form under A1, A2 or B1 ratings, as it confirms that fire risks are low and no remediation works are required.

  • Will leaseholders be charged for the EWS1 form and additional costs such as surveys and remediation works?

    We will explore all external opportunities for funding before recharging leaseholders for their share of costs in relation to the EWS1 process and remediation costs. This includes insurance claims, warranties and/or working with the original contractor. Where the building is eligible, we will make an application to the government’s Building Safety Fund.

    Where these funding avenues are not possible, or do not cover the whole costs, we are unable to absorb these costs and therefore will recharge leaseholders with their share of the remediation. However, we will continue to do what we can, working with government and the G15 group of London’s largest housing associations, to mitigate these costs where possible. If we do need to charge any leaseholders, we will seek to keep costs as low as possible and offer a range of payment plans.

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions?

    If you have any further questions, please contact your local officer.

View our EWS1 forms portal >