EWS1 28th August 2020

Dear Leaseholder

Cladding Issues – EWS1

You may be aware that Government guidance “Advice on external wall systems that do not incorporate Aluminium Composite Material” (referred to as Advice Note 14) has been introduced around fire safety in residential buildings, following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in 2017. This has now been consolidated in a further Advice Note distributed in January 2020 including all other Advice Notes sent out since Grenfell Tower.

One consequence of these changes is that mortgage lenders are asking for prospective buyers and leaseholders who are re-mortgaging to provide more detailed technical information in relation to the construction of the building.

In some cases, valuers are returning zero (£0) valuations of flats. Please be assured this does not mean that your flat is valueless – it is a technique that valuers use to place a pause on the mortgage application until more information becomes available to allow an accurate valuation to take place

If the buildings External Wall Covering System does fail tests, then there is a process we are advised to follow based on a 13-point process highlighted in the consolidated Advice Note. This includes the determination of what interim measures will have to be put in place in the period before the External Wall Covering can be removed and replaced.

The current guidelines are that all blocks 18 metres and above should provide a valid EWS1 form however Banks/Lenders are requesting that an EWS1 is issued on every high-rise block, this is apparent at Century Wharf and elsewhere in the UK. There is currently nothing stopping lenders from this and furthermore we suspect the guidelines on height will be lowered to 9-11metres in the coming months which would then cover every block within Century Wharf. The government has sent very mixed and confused messages on this.

We have arranged a number of surveys and can advise that the outcome of these surveys is that all buildings have failed and remedial works are required.

In brief ‘The External walling found at Century Wharf contravenes AN-21 with regards to balconies (any attachment – timber) and AN-14 with regards to high press laminate, cedar boarding, timber battens and ply that are combustible materials and does not meet the A2 standard’

The remedial works can be summarised to include (but not limited to) the following:

  • Removal of timber and HPL areas to be replaced with an appropriate A2 classification material.
  • Installation of Rockwool duo slab A1 certified to be suitable thickness to fill the void
  • Side rise fire barrier to be positioned, compressed in vertical application and a 15mm off set in the horizontal to all floor levels, departmental, corners of the building and around all apertures.
  • Low level vented profiles fixed to doors and window heads allowing the system to breath
  • All timber decked balconies to be replaced with at minimum A2 product

The next steps are as follows:

1)         A specification for the remedial works will be drawn up and a tender process undertaken.

2)         Agreement to be obtained for the replacement materials and any consent required from the Landlord will be obtained.

Regarding the timber flooring to balconies, these form part of the demised premises within the Lease and each individual owner with a balcony will be required to pay for the works separate to the service charges (for their own balcony). Once consent for the product to be used has been obtained, we will notify all Leaseholders of the approved material/design.

At this point, there will be two options available:

1 – Leaseholders may arrange the works to their balconies themselves and an independent sign off by a qualified person to confirm compliance will be required. A deadline for completion will be given and in the event the deadline is not met, the Landlord/RTM has the ability under the terms of the Lease to gain entry and undertake the works themselves, and the costs of which will be recharged to the owner of the property.

2 – Leaseholders can opt to have the works arranged via ourselves collectively. The cost of the works for each individual property will be by way of a separate charge, as this is not a service charge item.

For the EWS1 form to be amended from a B2 result; all of the timbers on the balconies will need to be replaced. We feel the quickest most effective method to get these works completed, is for them to be undertaken collectively together.

First and foremost, the priority is the safety of all residents and owners in the building. In addition, it is likely that sales will not progress where a mortgage is required with an EWS1 result of a B2.

We will commence the Section20 Consultation process when ready and continue to keep you up to date of progress made.

We appreciate this is a difficult and possibly stressful time, and want to assure you we will progress matters as quickly as possible, but at the same time, we also wish to ensure you are aware that this is not a quick process and will take a considerable amount of time to fully complete.

 

Should you have any concerns or questions please do not hesitate to contact myself on owein.mattey@warwickestates.net