New RICS guidance to help high-rise valuations

As seen on Property Reporter

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced new guidance for the valuation of properties in high-rise buildings to make the process clearer and more consistent.

The new guidance came into effect on 5th April and provides greater clarity as to whether or not an EWS1 form is required.

The EWS1 form was introduced for residential properties, such as blocks of flats, following the tragedy at Grenfell, with the intention of providing assurance for lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers that the property meets fire safety requirements. In order to achieve the EWS1 form, a building must first be assessed for safety by a suitable expert.

However, there are not many experts qualified to carry out these assessments and the form originally applied to all building above 18m, which created a significant backlog in the mortgage process for anyone buying or selling a property in a high-rise building.

Not all buildings present the same level of fire risk, so the RICS guidance is being introduced to help decide whether a particular building should need an EWS1 form, which will free up capacity in the system and help people to buy and sell their properties more easily.

The criteria consider the height of the building, the type of cladding and (in some circumstances) how much of it there is on the building. There are also criteria relating to balconies and combustible material.

RICS is clear that the guidance itself is for valuers and is not a life safety risk assessment. It is for the mortgage valuation process to determine when a valuer needs more information about whether remediation work affecting value is required. It has called for the majority of lenders to support the guidance and this should be a major breakthrough in helping people buy and sell properties in multi-storey buildings or multiple occupancy more easily and with greater confidence.

Guidance at a glance

For buildings over six storeys an EWS1 form should be required where:
  • There is cladding or curtain wall glazing on the building or
  • There are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber) or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible material.
For buildings of five or six storeys an EWS1 form should be required where:
  • There is a significant amount of cladding on the building (for the purpose of this guidance, approximately one-quarter of the whole elevation estimated from what is visible standing at ground level is a significant amount) or
  • There are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building or
  • There are balconies that stack vertically above each other and either both the balustrades and decking are constructed with combustible materials (e.g. timber), or the decking is constructed with combustible materials and the balconies are directly linked by combustible materials.
For buildings of four storeys or fewer an EWS1 form should be required where:
  • There are ACM, MCM or HPL panels on the building.

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