A professional indemnity insurance scheme to help qualified people get the cover they need to carry out external wall assessments (EWS1) has been launched by the government

30 September 2022

An EWS1 form is not a government or regulatory requirement, nor is it a building or life safety assessment. EWS1 forms have been developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, UK Finance, and the Building Societies Association to support the valuation process for high-rise residential buildings that have cladding.

The government has launched a state-backed professional indemnity insurance scheme for qualified professionals conducting a fire risk appraisal on a building’s external wall system, to complete an EWS1 form for residential properties over 11 metres.

To apply for the scheme, individuals must be named on the scheme eligibility register, and to be included on the register, applicants must meet the qualifying requirements of their professional body (RICS or the Institution of Fire Engineers). The scheme is available throughout the UK and is also compatible with the Scottish Single Building Assessment and Welsh Fire Safety Building Passport.

RICS has published guidance on the criteria that should be used to determine whether a building needs an EWS1 form. The guidance says that EWS1 was designed as a means of ensuring a suitable assessment has been carried out by a competent fire expert as to whether remedial works are likely to be required for a building. It is intended for use in valuation only, not as part of a fire risk assessment, and provides a template from which lenders and valuers can assess whether there is a need for remedial works that will affect the value of the property.

Valuers will not be competent or insured to assess the composition of cladding or any other attachments to the building, nor will the non-intrusive inspection that a valuer is usually instructed to carry out allow for such an assessment.

The EWS1 form was updated on 16 March 2022 to take into account the withdrawal of the Consolidated Advice Note and the publication of PAS9980:2022 – Assessing the external wall fire risk in multi-occupied residential buildings.