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March 2023 – EWS1 Certificates & External Cladding

April 5, 2023

The External Wall System (EWS1) certificate was introduced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) following on from the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.

Initially, the focus was on the removal of aluminium composite material cladding from blocks of flats, as it was this cladding that helped cause the spread the fire at Grenfell. However, the purpose of the EWS1 certificate is to confirm the safety of a building’s cladding, regardless of its material. In November 2018, cladding was banned in multi-let residential properties of more than 18 meters in height.

The EWS1 was introduced as mortgage lenders required increased assurance about external cladding on residential buildings (such as blocks of flats) and confirmation that the building had passed a fire safety assessment. The EWS1 certificate forms part of the mortgage lenders process and helps lenders choose whether to provide a mortgage based on a building’s external fire safety.

An EWS1 certificate is provided by a qualified professional who extensively analyses the fire safety of any external cladding. The certificate will be split into one of two ratings; Option A – External wall materials are unlikely to support combustion, or Option B – Combustible materials are present in an external wall. Option B is then broken down further and sets out whether the risk is high enough that remedial works are required or not.

An EWS1 certificate lasts for five years and will cover a whole residential block. It is not a requirement to have one EWS1 per apartment. An EWS1 certificate will need to be re-issued for a residential block if any external works are carried out.

In March 2021, the RICS produced a new guidance note on the valuation of properties in multi-storey multi-occupied residential buildings with cladding. This guidance set out the following:

  1. An EWS1 certificate should be required for buildings over six storeys in height where there is cladding or curtain wall glazing or where there are balconies vertically above one another, and those balconies are made of a combustible material;
  2. A building of five or six storeys will require an EWS1 certificate if approx. one quarter of the elevation from the ground level is comprised of cladding;
  3. If the building has aluminium or metal composite or high pressure laminate panels.

The full guidance can be found at the link:

In March 2022, the RICS announced that they would see a diminishing need for the EWS1 when the Fire Safety Act risk assessments conducted under the Fire Safety Act 2021 together with any works required have been carried out. Additionally, if the building was completed under the 2018 Building Regulations, generally the mortgage lender should not require the certificate.

Please see the RICS Website for full guidance on the EWS1:


‘Reporting to the Lender: Current Issues’ (Richard Snape – LawSure Insurance Brokers) – 1 February 2023.

James Sawyer
Trainee Solicitor – Commercial and Development Department

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