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    Article Overview

    The article explores the Building Safety Act (2022), introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire, to address structural and fire safety issues in high-risk buildings. It introduces the External Wall System Fire Review Certificate (EWS1) to assess cladding safety for mortgage purposes. Remediation solutions for cladding and decking are highlighted, along with government support schemes to manage associated costs.

    Rectify structural and fire safety defects in higher-risk buildings.

    Despite the continuous development of the Building Act, first set out in 1984, the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017 highlighted a need for further regulations and enforcement surrounding building safety across the country.

    New legislation was formed under the Building Safety Act (2022) as a response to the disaster. With a focus on accountability, transparency and enforceability, the Act sets out to rectify structural and fire safety defects in higher-risk buildings, categorised as any building that is:

    • at least 18 metres tall; or
    • at least seven storeys tall; and
    • contains a minimum of two residential units;
    • is a care home; or
    • is a hospital.

    Every building that falls under the Building Safety Act must have a clearly identifiable Accountable Person (AP). The AP has a legal responsibility to repair and ensure the safety of any common areas of the building, such as the exterior of the building, stairways and corridors.

    Buildings covered by the Building Safety Act must have non-combustible cladding and balcony decking with a fire rating of A2-s1, d0 or higher (BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009).

    What is ESW1?

    After Grenfell, many mortgage lenders lost confidence in properties situated in high rise blocks, leading to many mortgage applications being rejected and sales falling through.

    In response to this, the External Wall System Fire Review Certificate (EWS1) was introduced. The EWS1 certificate is designed for residential properties that are over 18 metres high, have at least six storeys or have some form of combustible cladding or combustible material on balconies. EWS1 is not a legal requirement but is instead used as a mortgage valuation tool, giving lenders a clear indication of how safe the cladding of a building is. Some lenders will refuse applications for buildings over 18 metres that do not have a certificate.

    EWS1 Ratings Explained

    To gain an EWS1 certificate, a qualified professional will conduct a fire-risk appraisal of the cladding. A rating is given depending on the level of risk.

    Ratings of A1, A2 or A3 are awarded to buildings where materials on or in the exterior walls are unlikely to support combustion. Ratings of B1 or B2 are awarded to buildings where combustible materials are found on or in the exterior walls. This doesn’t mean that the building isn’t safe, however, for B2 ratings, remediation work is recommended to meet fire safety standards.

    In England and Wales, one EWS1 certificate covers the entire building and is valid for up to five years. If significant changes are made to the structure of the building within this time, it will need to be reassessed.

    Products for Remediation

    Our high-performance Dura Cladding Flush Aluminium is the ideal choice for cladding remediation works. With a host of advantages versus traditional materials, including an A2 fire rating, Dura Cladding Flush Aluminium is an attractive but futureproof solution.

    Both our Dura Deck Aluminium and Dura Deck Inspire (porcelain) products are the perfect choice for decking remediation projects. Both products are compliant with current high rise building legislation and have high fire ratings, long lifespans and low maintenance requirements.

    Cladding Remediation Costs

    There are certain government schemes available to support cladding remediation costs:

    Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS) – The CSS supports applicants for residential buildings over 11 metres in height (maximum 18 metres in London), that either cannot afford to carry out cladding remediation works or feel as though they are not the ones responsible for paying.

    Building Safety Fund (BSF) – The BSF can provide financial support with remediation costs for any safety defects in buildings over 18 metres tall. This includes both decking and cladding remediation costs.

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