Encore has completed preliminary investigations into the building materials used at Admiralty Quarter and has received the architect and engineer’s draft preliminary findings.
2. Reviewed the preliminary findings
Encore has reviewed the initial findings. These have unfortunately revealed that they need to carry out some remedial work to the buildings to ensure that they comply with the government’s guidelines.
3. Installed temporary additional fire alarms
Encore has taken the advice of the fire assessors and installed an additional temporary alarm in every property, and in appropriate communal areas. Encore is exploring ways of recovering these costs.
4. Ensured that applications are made for all available government funding
An application has been made to the Waking Watch Relief Fund via Encore, our managing agents, and it has been confirmed that the cost of installing the alarm system will be be considered by the Fund. We are waiting to hear about the success of Encore's application to the Building Safety Fund. Encore is managing this process, and we will communicate updates to residents as soon as we have them.
5. Begun the Section 20 process for the required works
In January 2021, Encore issued Southern Housing Group with a Notice of Intended Works, and opened the first stage of a Section 20 consultation process requesting leaseholders observations and nominations for contractors. This initial consultation period closed in February. All documents regarding the process can be found in the Important Documents section below.
What did the results show?
The preliminary investigation showed that:
Vertical and horizontal fire barriers were found to be either absent or incorrectly fitted within the cavity of the rainscreen cladding, rendered external wall insulation and timber cladding. Horizontal barriers were present within masonry walls but vertical barriers at compartment walls were missing (non-compliant). Cavities around window openings were either closed with plasterboard/cement board (considered compliant) or proprietary PVC cavity closures (likely non-compliant).
The combustible materials used in the external wall systems comply with the Building Regulations at the time of the construction but would not meet current regulations, in particular the external wall insulation on some of the blocks in Cross Street that are over 18m high and the timber cladding.
Private balconies to all the blocks have combustible timber decking with dividing screens clad in timber, and are considered to be a significant risk to fire spread due to the exposed underside of the timber decking and the vertical dividing screen providing an easy path for the fire to spread vertically between balconies.
The external frame to the front elevation of Brunswick House comprises combustible timber plates bolted either side of a steel plate. The timber is a structural component that cannot be removed without affecting the integrity of the frame. The timber frame is considered to be a risk to fire spread across the building surface in both vertical and horizontal directions and between balconies.
What are you doing to ensure residents are safe?
While Encore carries out the more detailed investigations into the remedial work and gets on with the work itself, we have taken advice from the fire brigade and our fire safety engineers to make sure that your homes have the right additional precautions in place to ensure your safety in the event of a need to evacuate the buildings.
This advice is that we should:
1. Install additional smoke detection and alarms to supplement the existing system
2. Change the fire evacuation policy to simultaneously evacuate
Whilst Encore completes the remedial works, they have changed the evacuation policy from “stay put” to “evacuate” in the event of a fire. It has changed the fire safety advice notices in your buildings to reflect this. Please read this information.
Timing of the work
We are scoping and planning the work right now, so it is not possible to give an exact time for when the remedial work will start. We will share the exact details of the works with you as soon as we can. This is a complex process involving further detailed inspections, scoping the exact work and tendering for contractors whilst we ensure that we work in a Covid-safe way for everyone.
Can I stay in my home during the work?
Yes, we think so. Due to the nature of the work needed, we think it is likely that we will be able to carry out the work without the need to move anyone out of their homes. But it does sometimes happen that we discover, in scoping and planning the work, that we may need access to the interiors of some homes. If that is necessary we will discuss this with you beforehand.
I’m trying to sell or remortgage my home – how will this impact on that?
An information page has been set up for leaseholders who are looking to sell or remortgage.
What is the latest RICS EWS1 guidance for this building?
“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).”
What about in circumstances where a building may only have cladding that is less than 25% of the whole building, but that cladding is significant in terms of being greater than 25% of one elevation or concentrated around an exit point?
Is the intention of the guidance note that this reference to a ‘significant amount’ is in relation to just a single façade or the whole building?
The RICS has advised that is cladding that is on one quarter of all of the visible elevations, standing at ground level, equivalent to approximately one quarter of the whole building, is normally a significant amount.
For example, in considering whether there is a significant amount of cladding on a building, cladding that links multiple floors of a building or is around the main route of escape is likely to require remediation
As stated in the latest guidance, these criteria are guidance and professional judgement will need to be applied. RICS has received information that valuers will generally regard cladding that covers more than a quarter of any single elevation of the building (even if there is not cladding on a quarter of the whole building) as significant because this will link multiple floors and be more likely to require more expensive remediation. They have therefore amended the online decision tree to reflect this.
How can I find out more?
We'll be updating these pages whenever there is new information.