EWS1 9th September 2020

Dear Leaseholder

 

Please find information below regarding cladding and EWS1 forms for Century Wharf. Some of you may already be aware that there have been some issues highlighted with the contractor ‘SFI’ who undertook the surveys and provided the subsequent EWS1 forms and  as such the EWS1 forms you may have already received are invalid. Until all issues have been resolved we will not be able to provide you a valid ‘interim’ EWS1 form.

 

In the event we are not completely satisfied with ‘SFI’ we will engage with an alternative contractor. Please note that we have not paid any money to ‘SFI’ and won’t do so unless we are confident all issues have been resolved to our satisfaction. Numerous agencies are now involved in that matter and we await further information.

 

We are well aware that many of you are looking to sell your properties, re-mortgage or buy additional properties at century wharf all of which will be affected by the need for an EWS1 form. Please note we have every intention of undertaking all works to comply with the new regulations around the EWS1 forms and ensuring that your properties are safe. We are also aware that this has become a national issue and that Parliament and the Government are being asked to look at it again urgently, given it was the Government’s revised advice in January 2020 that caused this problem.

 

However, please know that this will not be a quick process. Any required remedial works to your block will certainly not take place until 2021 or later. Unless the government intervene, we will have 35 blocks that require major works all of which will need to be completed before a ‘final’ EWS1 form will be signed off with a ‘PASS’. This will be a massive job for any contractor to undertake, one which will have to be carefully planned and financially provided for. Many leaseholders who are not looking to sell will be resistant to paying what could be a very large charge to do this work.

 

 With regards to costs, we to date do not have a figure. We hope in the coming weeks we can obtain a schedule of works so we can go out to tender. Following this we can be more clear on costs.


As you may be aware, we have recently issued new service charges with an increased reserve fund, this is in anticipation of the remedial works. We aim to build up the reserve funds on your block over a period of time, such that when the works are able to be undertaken the reserve fund is as healthy as possible and that further contributions from the leaseholders will be kept to a minimum.

 

Set out overleaf is a reprise of the situation, as far as we are aware. We would strongly advise you to write to your MP asking for their help to resolve this situation that in part has been caused by the government.

 

 

Owein Mattey                                                                                    Mark James CBE

Development Manager                                                                      Chairman of the RTM

 

Note on Cladding Issues

 

 

Cladding Issues – EWS1

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. This does not mean that flats are 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 now requesting that an EWS1 is issued on every high-rise block, this is apparent at Century Wharf and elsewhere in the UK. This is partly due to the Government stating in January 2020 that all buildings should be covered, not just those over 18m. There is currently nothing stopping lenders from this and furthermore we suspect the guidelines on height may be eventually lowered to 9-11metres, 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 a 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 have to 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 leaseholders that 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