External Wall Systems

Whether for a new build or existing building, Chartered Fire Safety Engineers at the IFC Group can provide the inspections, advice and certification required to demonstrate the fire safety performance of external walls, facades and balconies.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have issued Advice Notes 14, 18 and 21 for external wall coverings, facades and balconies for residential buildings over 18 metres which has developed into the current External Wall System (EWS) Form. IFC combines a risk based approach to the review of the external current materials with fire engineering to complete the EWS form.

IFC have extensive knowledge and expertise in the evaluation of fire protection products, their field of application, constituent materials and their properties, and as such are currently providing comprehensive EWS reviews nationwide. The eventual output being a detailed analysis report and an EWS 1 Form, signed by one of our Chartered Engineers (Institute of Fire Engineers).

If you think you would benefit from attaining an EWS 1 Form, please call us on +44 (0)1844 275500 or complete our quick and simple online enquiry form.

NEW BUILDS

IFC are able to support new build project façade programmes in the following ways:
  • Design Support – working with the design team (and/or facades consultant) to ensure the development of the design complies with regulations and industry best practise for fire safety.
  • Desktop reviews of specific wall build-ups - combining all relevant building documentation and data, a comprehensive desktop review and analysis will be able to determine if an EWS 1 form can be signed off and issued.
  • Inspections – as part of the EWS Form our inspectors will review the construction at regular intervals to ensure the product and installation agree with the designs, fire strategy and manufacturer’s instructions.

Existing buildings (in use)

IFC are able to support existing building façade review programmes in the following ways:

  • Desktop reviews of specific wall build-ups – combining all relevant building documentation and data, a comprehensive desktop review and analysis will be able to determine if an EWS 1 form can be signed off and issued. In the event that it cannot, a Fire Risk Survey may be required.
  • Fire Risk Surveys - should a second stage review be necessary IFC will conduct a site survey to verify that the information released is accurate.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have issued Advice Notes 14, 18 and 21 for external wall coverings, facades and balconies for residential buildings over 18 metres which has developed into the current External Wall System (EWS) Form. IFC combines a risk based approach to the review of the external current materials with fire engineering to complete the EWS form.

IFC have extensive knowledge and expertise in the evaluation of fire protection products, their field of application, constituent materials and their properties, and as such are currently providing comprehensive EWS reviews nationwide. The eventual output being a detailed analysis report and an EWS 1 Form, signed by one of our Chartered Engineers (Institute of Fire Engineers).

New builds

IFC will be in attendance during the build to witness the construction stages of the building’s façade. Each site visit includes a review of the workmanship on site and discussions with the façade contractor and/or Clerk of Works, to ensure that the specified products are being installed in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and in the correct locations.

Each site visit also generates a comprehensive report documenting the findings. If for any reason there is anything anomalous discovered, IFC will be able to discuss clearly with the client and assist in mitigating any risks.

Existing buildings (in use)

The review of an existing building’s external walls and attachments is divided into two clear stages. Firstly, upon receiving all client released, relevant building documentation and data, a comprehensive desktop review and analysis will be able to determine if an EWS 1 form can be signed off and issued.

It may however be determined that a second stage site visit is necessary to conduct a more detailed survey, in order to verify that the information released is accurate.

If you think you would benefit from attaining an EWS 1 Form, please call us on +44 (0)1844 275500 or complete our quick and simple enquiry form.

Your most frequentLY asked questions - answered

GENERAL

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued guidance in the form of Advice Notes. Assessment of compliance with these has been consolidated into an External Wall System (EWS1) Form. The premise is that a qualified professional must review the buildings’ external façade, determine the risk and issue an EWS1 Form.

Currently insurance companies and mortgage providers recognise that residential buildings with an occupied floor more than 18 metres above ground require an EWS1 Form. Some organisations are applying the same process to all residential buildings’ external facades.

IFC suggest, if the highest floor in your building is less than 18 metres above the ground, that you go back to the insurance company/mortgage provider, and query whether the EWS1 form is necessary.

The EWS1 Form can only reasonably be applied to the whole building not individual apartments. You should contact your freeholder or managing agent to arrange for an EWS1 form to be prepared.

The EWS Form is split in to two options, options A or B:

Option A is for buildings where the materials used in the external wall would be unlikely to support combustion; in this case the signatory would need only the expertise to identify the relevant materials.

Option B is for buildings where Option A does not apply, and a more detailed review and hence higher level of fire expertise is required.

The current EWS Form details the relevant bodies or organisations that are capable of providing the correct signatory. IFC currently employ a number of Chartered Engineers with the Institution of Fire Engineers who can issue EWS1 forms under both options A and B.

At the time of writing the EWS1 is only applicable to residential buildings over 18 metres, although IFC are keenly watching the changing regulatory landscape and are aware that this may change in the future.

This new fund will contribute to the cost for unsafe non-ACM cladding on residential buildings that are 18 metres and over and do not comply with building regulations.

Information relating to the Building Safety Fund for the remediation of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems can be found on the UK Government’s website:

www.gov.uk/guidance/remediation-of-non-acm-buildings

THE PROCESS

IFC undertake both new and existing building reviews and provide the EWS1 Form.

For a new build IFC visit site and review the building, the installation of the specified materials and ensure that they are being installed in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions. We have found that we need to be on site at the beginning, middle and end to ensure that the first visit when the façade/brickwork is at the first floor is the start of the compliant installation of the compartmentation is the same during and by the time the building is to be completed. We provide a detailed report that supports the final EWS Report.

For an existing building we undertake a two stage approach. Initially we ask the client to release all the building façade information that they currently have, and we review; the more accurate the information the easier it is to assess if an EWS option A can be issued.

If the client released information is insufficient, we work with you and determine the location of proposed opening/penetrations into the façade or brickwork. We will ask that the client provides the opening and the access, and then IFC will attend site and review the cavities and materials so that we can prepare the EWS1 form. Making good penetrations after our inspection is the responsibility of the client.

The premise for the EWS1 is to review the external façade of any residential building over18 metres but through our experience we have included a site visit prior to any EWS Form sign off as we not only need to see the site, we also undertake a visual survey of the internal fire engineering.

The combination of the intrusive surveying for the external and the initial internal fire engineering review inform the risk based approach required for the EWS 1 Form sign off.

Where high quality information is available from the client, we may not need to carry out any further inspections.

IFC need to determine the number of inspection locations to validate the conclusions within the EWS1 form. The proposed locations are determined by building review and to identify where horizontal and vertical cavity compartmentation should be installed and we work with you as the client to agree the locations as you know the site.

We will use the minimum number of intrusive penetrations as we keenly aware of the finishes and potential aesthetic disruption to your buildings; the quantity of proposed penetrations is also determined by the building size and height.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a globally recognised professional body, everything they do is designed to effect positive change in the built and natural environments.

The RICS website is a good source of news and insight relating to External Wall Fire Review Process.

www.rics.org/uk/news-insight/latest-news/fire-safety/

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Alternatively, please download this useful PDF that covers everything for you to read at your own pace. Of course, if you would like to talk to us about any queries you may have, we would be delighted to hear from you. Either complete a contact form or call us on +44 (0)1844 275500.

Large enough to deliver | Small enough to care

With expanding offices throughout the UK and overseas our team are able to offer local advice wherever you need it. So regardless of project size, location or complexity, our dedicated team will remain your partner every step of the way.

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