In the past, home survey and valuation documents did not provide enough information about the external cladding of high-rise buildings (a building that is 18m and above in height). Some claddings contained combustible materials and would facilitate the spread of fire in case of a fire emergency.
The Grenfell tragedy raised awareness of this possibility. It was a fire that led to many people's death and took firefighters more than 24 hours to control the fire. After enquiries, it was established that the cladding on the building and UPVC windows assisted in progressing the fire.
After this tragedy, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), together with UK finance (UKF) and Building Societies Association (BSA), came up with the EWS1 forms.
The EWS1 Form is a way to enable competent fire experts who can assess whether or not high-rise buildings are fire safe. They can also be used to identify if the building needs any modifications or remedial work.
The EWS1 forms have provided a reliable document that can be used and understood in the market to support buying, selling, and re-mortgaging properties in high-rise buildings.
The EWS1 form has been available for download on the RICS website. It presented some challenges that needed to be solved to create an accessible and reliable process to upload and download forms.
The Fire Industry Association (FIA) built a EWS1 portal to address those issues. It was done through consultation with MHCLG and RICS. The portal has provided a central location where EWS1 forms can be found. You can download or upload forms, and engineers can fill forms online.
The EWS1 Portal is a central location where you can find EWS1 forms for high-rise buildings. An EWS1 form survey is used to survey external walls of high-rise buildings and can only be filled by a competent professional or a fire engineer. This form is used to establish if a building is fire safe or not.
FIA provides the portal. To be a signatory to EWS1 forms, you must first be registered with FIA. Part of the application process requires you to submit professional qualifications and applicable professional memberships. Once your application is approved, you can submit new EWS1 forms or fill new ones online. Forms are subject to checks before they are uploaded to the portal.
Anyone interested in a particularly high-rise building may enter the portal and search for the building, be it a seller, buyer or a valuer. You can search a building using its postcode or building name. After you have found your preferred building, you can download the EWS1 form free of charge after submitting your email address.
The portal was created to be able to control the EWS1 forms and manage them from a central location. More fake EWS1 forms had started to surface in the market, which led to inconsistencies. Many people were being duped using these fake EWS1 forms that buildings were fire-safe, yet they were not.
FIA sought to control these rogue elements by centralising the EWS1 forms, the portal is the only place to get the forms and engineers, and other professionals can upload their forms and fill in new forms online.
Through this centralisation, FIA can go through every form submitted to ensure its authenticity and correctness.
FIA has also restricted the people that can upload to the portal. FIA requires that you register first with them before they allow you to upload.
People looking to register are required to submit their qualifications and professional memberships. The applicants are taken through a rigorous process requiring them to answer a series of questions.
FIA fully funds this portal and has employed competent software engineers to create a user-friendly and effective website. The website is approved by the RICS forum.
When a person is interested in a particular building, they can log on to the portal and search for the building. The building can be found by searching using the postal code or using the name of the building. Once you have located the necessary EWS1 form, it can be downloaded for free by submitting an email address.
Signatories who have registered and their applications were successful can also upload the EWS1 forms they have done and complete new forms online. This has made it easy to do external wall surveys and post the relevant information in a central forum that is open to the public.
The uploaded forms go through a rigorous check to ensure that they are genuine and relate to the relevant buildings. FIA also ensures those who fill in the forms are qualified and competent professionals.
The FIA has taken the mandate to do the checks in-house to ensure that the portal is reliable.
The launch of this portal has aided in improving the transparency of EWS1 forms. Consumers are protected from buildings that are risky and hazardous.
The portal is the only place to get EWS1 forms will reduce the forging of these forms. The portal being free of charge will allow sellers, buyers and other people to access this information easily.