What is Cladding?
Cladding is an external material used to insulate and improve the appearance and safety of buildings. It can also help to protect buildings from weather. Cladding can be found on all types of buildings but is usually associated with high-rise buildings.
Why is Cladding important?
In 2020, new legislation was approved wherein owners of all multi-storey residential buildings should investigate the risk of cladding that is combustible. The tragic incident involving the Grenfell Tower in 2017 raised awareness about the impact on fire safety issues. This was due to their cladding issues. Even though the building regulations were signed off, it was clear that the cladding within the building was unsafe and therefore increased the risk of the fire spreading.
Investigations following the tragedy revealed that the Grenfell Tower fire was facilitated by combustible plastic cladding.
What are the new rules?
As mentioned above, in January 2020 the government advised that owners of all multi-storey residential buildings should investigate the risk of cladding that is combustible. A Fire Safety Bill was introduced in May 2022. This bill re-iterates the responsibility of building owners and management agencies to remedy the issues.
To ensure building regulations requirements are met, in December 2019 a certificate of compliance called External Wall System 1 (ESW1) was introduced. This was, once again, following the events of Grenfell Tower.
What is an ESW1 form?
An EWS1 certificate is an External Wall System Fire Review certificate. They come into play when a leaseholder is buying, selling or re-mortgaging an apartment in a multi-storey multi-occupied residential building. It is not a building safety certificate or a legal requirement.
Who do these changes affect?
In most cases, it will be the responsibility of the landlord to repair and maintain the external and structural parts of the building. Also, the landlord is required to carry out necessary risk assessments. They must comply with health and fire safety regulations.
If cladding does need to be replaced, unless the building contains social housing or is owned by the local authority, it is likely that landlords will seek to recover the costs of remediation through the service charge.
Obtaining funding through service charges should be seen as a last resort. Therefore being in line with government advice to building owners. Insurers and/or developers could be approached regards funding.
Aside from the potential cost implications, it has also become more challenging to obtain mortgages for high-rise properties. Valuations from mortgage lenders establish whether there is cladding present in the building.
If the cladding does not meet the necessary requirements, this could have a massive impact on the valuation of the building.
For more detailed information, you can check out the regulations here.