The disastrous tick-box approach to building safety that has dragged so many low-rise blocks into the cladding crisis and rendered flats unsellable is being addressed by RICS and the mortgage lenders.
It is a welcome return to rigour and sense in adopting a risk-based approach for these low-rise buildings. It is announced here:
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has today issued proposed guidance for public consultation. The guidance aims to help homebuyers and leaseholders, profoundly impacted by delays in the homebuying market, caused by safety concerns over cladding, and the cost of remediation.
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The Government has asked Michael Wade, an insurance executive, to consider how cladding repairs could be funded. His preference is for 30-year loans to be offered to building owners, who can recoup the cost through increased service charges for residents. This plan has received a hostile reception from leaseholders, who believe they should not have to foot the bills.
RICS and the lenders propose that there should be no EWS1 for:
Building over six storeys
There is no cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building and:
If there are balconies where the balustrades and decking are constructed of combustible materials (e.g. timber), they are not stacked vertically above each other.
Buildings of five or six storeys
There is not a significant amount of cladding on the building (for the purpose of this guidance, approximately one quarter of the surface façade is a significant amount) and:
There are no ACM or MCM panels on the building* and
if there are balconies where the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), they are not stacked vertically above each other.
Buildings of four storeys or fewer
There are no ACM or MCM panels on the building
- Note: metal cladding and ACM/MCM are visually very similar, so if metal cladding is present, the valuer should either confirm with the building owner or managing agent in writing that they are not ACM/MCM, or an EWS1 inspection should be requested.
Ben Elder, RICS Head of Valuation Standards commented:
“EWS1 was never intended to hold up the market, indeed without it, no one would be moving. However, this proposed guidance intends to help by providing valuers with clear criteria to help them decide on whether an EWS1 form may be required or not.
“There will clearly still be many cases where an EWS1 form is necessary, but the guidance and insight resulting from this consultation will enable us to continue to work with stakeholders, including Government, to find solutions to help speed up the process for remediating these buildings.”
There will be a public consultation on this, and leaseholders affected should certainly share their views, along with professionals.
he consultation will be open from 8 January 2021 and will close on 25 January 2021 with the proposed guidance note due in Spring 2021.
The consultation link is here: