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.

In 2022, we endorsed the guidance for landlords on leaseholder requests for EWS1 forms, which outlines best practice for the process itself, how to communicate with residents and how to respond when EWS1 forms cannot be secured. You can read about this best practice on the dedicated webpage.


  • What is an EWS1?

    The EWS1 (External Wall System) survey is a form designed to be used for residential properties (e.g., blocks of flats) as a means for building owners to confirm to lenders that an external wall system has been assessed by a suitable expert as compliant or if any works are required to meet fire safety standards.

  • What is an external wall system?

    The external wall system is the materials that make up the outside wall of a building. This includes (but is not limited to), blockwork, a form of insultation and either cladding, render or brick-faced covering on the outermost layer.

  • Which blocks require an EWS1?

    Current guidance from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) specifies that an EWS1 form should be requested for all buildings over 18m or 7 storeys tall, or if the building is over 4 storeys tall and includes certain types of material on the external wall or balconies. Further information on this can be found on RICS website.

  • How do you assess the height of buildings?

    Generally speaking, each storey of a building will be approximately 2.7meters. So, a four-storey building will be approximately 11 meters tall.

    If a more accurate measurement is required, then Notting Hill Genesis will instruct a specialist surveying firm who will measure the distance from ground level to floor level of the highest storey using lasers, in line with fire safety guidance.

  • Will every lender require an EWS1?

    Not every lender will necessarily require an EWS1 form, as they are not a legal requirement. However, if your building meets the criteria set out above, then it is likely that your lender will require a favourable EWS1 form to provide financing for a property.

  • What can I do if a lender asks for an EWS1 form when it is not needed?

    A lender should always have a rationale to justify their request for an EWS1 form. This should include why they believe that your building meets the criteria set out in the guidance published by RICS in April 2021, as mentioned above.

    If your building does not meet the criteria, then you can write to the lender confirming this. Notting Hill Genesis are here to support you with this process by confirming details about a building where needed.

  • Do you already have an EWS1 for my block?

    Notting Hill Genesis have obtained EWS1 forms for nearly 600 of our buildings, and we have made these readily available to residents via our online portal. If you cannot find the building you are looking for on the portal, please contact your Property Management Officer who will be able to assist you.

  • Who can request EWS1s?

    Typically, EWS1s are required by a lender. However, if you are selling your home, then you may also be asked to provide an EWS1 by the estate agent, conveyancing solicitor or the purchasers themselves.

    If you believe that your building meets the criteria set by RICS detailed above and want to speak to someone about getting an EWS1 for your building, please contact your Property Management Officer.

  • Who provides EWS1s?

    EWS1 surveys can only be arranged by the freeholder of the building. If you believe an EWS1 is required for your building based on the RICS criteria set out above and you are unsure who should provide the EWS1 for your building, please contact your Property Management Officer.

  • Can I arrange for an EWS1 survey to be carried out on the building?

    We don’t allow residents to carry out or instruct their own appointed contractor to carry out an EWS1 survey on their buildings. An EWS1 survey can only be arranged by the freeholder or managing agent acting on the freeholder’s behalf.

  • Can I get an EWS1 for my individual property? Does each flat need to have an individual EWS1 form?

    The EWS1 form is provided for the whole building, so individual flats cannot get their own individual EWS1 forms.

  • Do I need to pay for an EWS1 form or survey?

    Notting Hill Genesis is not recharging residents for the costs of EWS1 surveys or the provision of the EWS1 forms.

  • How long does it take to arrange an EWS1 survey and provide the form?

    Currently, our engineers will attend site approximately 3-4 weeks after receiving an EWS1 request. Following the survey of the building, it then takes a further 3-4 weeks for the report and form to be produced.

    Please be aware that although we intend to carry out an EWS1 survey within these timeframes, there may be instances where this process can take slightly longer than anticipated (e.g., if demand on our engineers increases). We will always endeavour to provide you with a realistic timeframe when a request is made.

  • What is the process of arranging an EWS1 survey?

    If you believe that your building requires an EWS1 based on the RICS criteria set out above, please contact your Property Management Officer in the first instance, and they will raise the necessary EWS1 request via our building safety team.

  • If NHG is not the freeholder for my building, how do I get an EWS1 form?

    In instances where Notting Hill Genesis is not the freeholder of your building, you will need to speak to your Property Management Officer, who will put you in touch with the freeholder or managing agent of your building.

  • How long are EWS1s valid for?

    An EWS1 form is valid for up to 5 years from the date that it is signed. However, this will need to be reassessed should there be any significant changes to the external wall or attachments to the building. If there are remedial works to the external wall system of a building, a new form needs to be issued once the work has been completed.

  • If an EWS1 form is received for my building, does this mean that no works are required to my property?

    Not necessarily. There are different ratings for EWS1 forms and although your building may have been issued an EWS1 form, if the rating is unfavourable, then there might be remedial works required to your building to ensure that it is safe. The different ratings of EWS1 forms are discussed in further detail below.

    The EWS1 survey may identify no inherent risks associated with the external wall, but the fire engineer may recommend further works to ensure that the building complies with current or future building regulations. However, this is rare and, with the introduction of the PAS 9980 (further details below), this is unlikely to occur.

  • What are the different EWS1 ratings and what do the different ratings mean?

    A1 (favourable) – There are no attachments [such as balconies] whose construction includes significant quantities of combustible materials
    A2 (favourable) – There is an appropriate risk assessment of the attachments [such as balconies] confirming that no remedial works are required
    A3 (unfavourable) – Where neither of the above two options apply, there may be potential costs of remedial works to attachments [such as balconies]
    B1 (favourable) – The engineer’s view is that the fire risk is sufficiently low that no remedial works are required
    B2 (unfavourable) – The engineer’s view is that an adequate standard of safety is not achieved, and the building requires remedial and interim measures

  • What is PAS9980?

    The Publicly Available Specification (PAS 9980), developed by the British Standards Institute is a new methodology for assessing fire safety in residential blocks, released in January 2022. It is intended to provide a holistic analysis of every element that can impact the risk of the spread of fire in residential blocks.

    The PAS 9980 is intended to allow building owners to take a proportionate approach where necessary works are identified, but, where possible, manage risks without the requirement for disruptive and expensive works.

    The PAS 9980 is a more detailed survey than the EWS1 and the results are subject to peer review before a final determination and report is completed.

    The PAS 9980 is not intended as an alternative to the EWS1 form. Recent announcements from RICS have aligned PAS 9980 with the EWS1, meaning that a positive PAS 9980 outcome should lead to the provision of a favourable EWS1 form.

  • Who do I contact if I have any questions?

    Should you have any further questions or concerns, please contact your Property Management Officer to discuss further.

View our EWS1 forms portal >