Cladding in Scotland

Since the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London on 14.06.2017, the term “cladding” has become a regular part of everyday vocabulary to many.  As early as the summer of 2019, the Scottish property market has been affected by the cladding issue and the lack of transparency for homeowners affected by the problem.

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Cladding & EWS1 Forms - Explained

The Cladding Crisis here in Scotland is ever-evolving. For many, it feels like there are new reports about changes to cladding procedures and requirements every few weeks, which adds to the confusion.

Curious about the Cladding Crisis & EWS1 Forms? Let us tell you more:

What is Cladding?

Cladding is a type of "skin" or an extra layer on the outside of a building. It can be attached to a building's framework or an intermediate layer of battens or spacers. The main purpose of cladding is to stop wind and rain from entering the building, but it can also provide thermal insulation, noise control and it boost the aesthetic appeal of a building.

The word “cladding” in relation to the Cladding Crisis in Scotland and EWS1 Forms for property sales, re-mortgage, and purchase requirements is a general term that covers the entire external make-up of a building, including balconies and external additions.

What types of cladding are there?

There are several different types of cladding, but to name a few:

  • Timber Cladding
  • Stone Cladding
  • Vinyl Cladding
  • Weatherboard Cladding
  • Glass Cladding
  • Brick Cladding
  • Fibre Cement Cladding
  • Metal Cladding
  • External Foam Cladding
  • Aluminium Composite Cladding

Why is cladding an issue? What happened at Grenfell Tower?

Grenfell Tower, a 24 story London high-rise that had been refurbished with a specific type of cladding called, Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP), caught fire in June 2017 burning for nearly 3 days, and tragically killing 72 residents. It was soon determined that a faulty fridge from within one of the apartments had started the fire, but the cladding’s air gaps had allowed the flames to quickly spread to the other floors causing devastation.

Upon further investigation, concerns have been raised that there are other types of cladding that could be combustible – not just the ACP cladding. This discovery has caused the UK Finance sector, particularly Mortgage companies to stop allowing buyers to borrow money on properties that have cladding – and this is how the Cladding Crisis has begun.

It is now known that the Cladding Crisis extends beyond cladding in the strict sense, and the word cladding is used as an overarching phrase including an entire external building wall system  – for example, buildings that have “additions” such as wooden balconies or balconies that have timber planking.  So, when we say “cladding,” we are now talking about the entire makeup of the external wall system of a building.

Property Values returning a £0 or £nil figure.

As early as summer of 2019 property owners in Scotland started seeing their Home Report Surveys valuation coming back showing Category 3’s for Main Walls and the valuation figure being returned with a nil-value – meaning that their property was effectively worthless.

At first, it was believed that the Cladding Crisis only affected “high-rise” buildings, higher than 18 meters (the height of a building is measured from the ground level to the carpet level at the top floor of the building).

At the same time, concerns were raised that builders may continue to use combustible materials and instead, build properties under 18 meters.

Grave concerns for the personal safety of property owners and tenants living within a building that has cladding followed by this finding. In response to the safety concerns, mortgage lenders issued instructions to the panel of Chartered Surveyors, that when carrying out the Home Report Surveys or the Mortgage Valuation Surveys, they should be placing a £0 value on properties without satisfactory certification confirming that cladding (or external wall system) on the building does not pose a fire risk.

However, with so many rules created by the UK Finance Sector, finding a “satisfactory certification from a suitably qualified professional” soon became a problem – and the EWS1 Form was born.

EWS1 certificates

The External Wall Fire Review, better known as an EWS1 certificate, is a standard-form certificate that confirms that the cladding (or external wall system) on a building does not pose a fire risk. This form was agreed fit for purpose by the Building Societies Association, RICS and UK Finance.

Click HERE to see an example of an EWS1 Form.

How do you know if your property needs an EWS1 Form?

Your Solicitor or Estate Agency should be able to give you advice and guidance regarding the EW1 form, but also, the Home Report Surveyor can confirm it as well.

On only a single page, the EWS1 Form seems straightforward. But, as you have come to expect with the Cladding issue in Scotland, many feel that the EWS1 Form raises further questions - only some of which have been answered.

Currently, in Scotland, there is a shortage of professionals with the necessary qualifications who can carry out these specialist reports, and obtaining a certificate is likely to take some time. It can also be expensive.

The EWS1 Form is a legal requirement to satisfy a buyer and their lender.  Some may think it might be unfair, but it is considered the seller’s responsibility to pay for the EWS1 Form, and many Solicitors and Estate Agents recommend that sellers have the EWS1 Form in place as part of their property’s marketing for sale.

The Cost of an EWS1 Form

Because there are so few qualified specialists in Scotland who can complete this report, the costs can be expensive.

Currently, the costs for EWS1 forms can range from £850+VAT to £3,000+VAT per property.  And, as stated above, it is considered the seller’s responsibility to incur this cost.

However, we have recently seen some lenders and legal conveyancing solicitors, who have been demanding the EWS1 Form to be produced in the name of the new buyer.

If in doubt, you should ask your Solicitor and your Mortgage Advisor to discuss their requirements if you are interested in buying a property that requires an EWS1 Form.

 

The Cladding Crisis: Is this a private matter for homeowners to deal with or is the Scottish Government doing anything to help?

There are now demands for the Scottish Government to allocate funds for Homeowners trapped in their unsellable homes who have combustible cladding. More and more people are calling for transparency as they ask for outlines on how the funding is to be spent.

An estimated 11 million homeowners are affected negatively by the cladding issue. After Grenfell, residents are scared to live in their high-rise homes. Many people in Scotland who are affected by the Cladding Crisis have been left confused, with no helpful responses despite huge company profits from builders and the construction industry.

Members of the public are concerned that they will be left to foot the bill and make any repairs that may be required if their building is found to have combustible cladding.

If all homeowners were to fix the problem of combustible cladding it could cost tens of thousands of pounds per property. Many residencies in Scotland are privately owned and getting approval to organise a survey or specialist investigation carried out on a building, can be extremely difficult.

Issues relating to the Cladding Crisis were raised much earlier than March 2019, so this has been an ongoing problem for a number of years despite the Government blaming the pandemic as the cause for their lack of action.

With so little confirmed information, Watermans Legal will be holding an Online Seminar via Zoom with a panel of experts who are “in the know”.  We want to be open, honest, and transparent about the ongoing issues relating to Cladding & EWS1 Forms with the property market in Scotland.

Click here to find out more about our Cladding Crisis event here.

Have more questions about cladding or EWS1 Forms? Get in touch with the Watermans Legal Team: 0131 467 5566 | [email protected]

Resources - Further details about cladding, EWS1 Forms and the MHCLG guidance be found at:

Cladding Event Speakers:

Shawn Wood – Solicitor at Watermans Legal 

LinkedIn

Shawn will talk through the purchase side of the process, acting for buyers who are interested in a property that has cladding or has had it noted in the HR about requiring an EWS1 form.

Tzana Webster – Head of Property Sales at Watermans Legal

LinkedIn

Tzana will be speaking about the sale side of the process, acting for property owners who have a property that they need or want to sell which has cladding or external additions which are noted on the HR as requiring an EWS1 form.

Mike Horne – Partner at J&E Shepherd Chartered Surveyors and Residential Surveyor

LinkedInMike will discuss Home Report Surveys and the RICS guidance and information (there will soon be some changes brought in place in the next few days) relating to Home Report Surveys and Valuation Reports for lenders which note EWS1 requirements because of cladding or external additions. He’ll talk about when they first started to put £nil value on HR surveys & valuation reports & why they categorise the notes on main walls, external additions and matters for a conveyancing solicitor on the HR survey.

Paul Nelis – MiFireE MIFPO of Fire Risk Assessment (Scotland) Ltd

LinkedInPaul is a qualified provider of EWS1 forms. He’ll talk us through his services and what he can do. Paul is only qualified for EWS1 forms and getting lending on A rating properties. He’ll likely touch-base on the B-rating properties and give information on this for his services.

Mark Wallace - Director of M&W Mortgages

LinkedInMark will speak about acting for buyers wanting to purchase a property that requires an EWS1 form & giving information on what he needs from buyers who want to purchase these types of properties & also about re-mortgage options for current owners of properties that require EWS1 forms.

Any questions?

Call our Estate Agency Team today on 0131 467 5566  or get in touch with us via our online enquiry form below.