EWS stands for external wall system. The EWS of a building is all the materials within external walls including insulation, coverings, fixtures, and fittings.
An EWS1 certificate is confirmation of the kind of external walls that a building has. This confirmation is done via a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls (FRAEW) which is conducted by a qualified professional.
Outcomes of this assessment can range from A1 down to B2.
A1 – There are no attachments whose constructions includes significant quantities of combustible materials.
A2 – There is an appropriate risk assessment of the attachments confirming that no remedial works are required.
A3 – Where neither of the above two options apply, there may be potential costs of remedial works to attachments.
B1 – The conclusion is that the fire risk is sufficiently low that no remedial works are required.
B2 – The conclusion is that the fire risk is sufficiently high that remedial works are required.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 is the legal vehicle for the Responsible Person – such as the freeholder – to ensure a fire risk assessment is completed for the internal structure and now in addition the external walls, including the doors and windows within those walls, and attachments such as balconies, cladding, and insulation. If this FRA indicates that the external wall system may have an impact on the fire safety of the building, then there is a legal obligation to carry out an FRAEW.
However, an EWS1 is not a legal document, it is purely for valuation, loan, or insurance purposes. It is not a life safety certificate. It was devised by RICS and other organisations post-Grenfell disaster as a method of determining the combustibility of the external walls of a building.
An EWS1 is usually requested by a bank or an insurance company. The most common reasons for needing an EWS1 is for a loan, or for insurance purposes.
An EWS1 is the responsibility of building owners. Sometimes another authority, for example property managers, have been passed the responsibility for the building in which case they can request an EWS1. Individual leaseholders can’t ask for an EWS1 without engaging permissions from whoever is in control of the building.
A Fire Risk Appraisal of the External Walls (FRAEW) is a holistic assessment of the external walls of a building to establish if there is a serious risk of spread of fire. A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) must consider the FRAEW of a building. If you have an EWS1 it will be underpinned by an FRAEW. The two are congruous.
BEFS aim for a 6-week turnaround or less to deliver an FRAEW and EWS1.