NOTB Article: How to Access BSF Funding

DO01100803

New On the Block Article in Issue 112

How to access the Building Safety Fund and replace unsafe cladding from your high rise properties

Written by; Andrew Morrison BSc MRICS IMaPS TIFSM C Build E MCABE, Managing Director at Keegans

In March 2020 the Government announced the new £1 billion Building Safety Fund (BSF) to remove unsafe non ACM cladding from high rise residential buildings (18 meters or over). Building owners or managing agents could register for the fund from 1 June to 31 July 2020.

So if you have registered and your building is eligible, how can you progress to accessing the funding?

  • Firstly, you need to undertake an EWS1 external wall system/cladding survey by appointing an experienced property professional with BAFE fire safety experience. They will carry out a desktop review of all available information and determine the areas of the building that will require intrusive inspection.
  • Next, a Fire Engineer will complete an holistic fire safety review of the building. The review will consider the specific wall materials identified which are not of limited combustibility, along with a wider review of the whole fire safety systems in the building, resident’s ability to evacuate, risks associated from surrounding buildings etc. The report will clearly identify what remedial works are required to achieve an acceptable level of life safety. This report will need to be sent to the BSF as part of the application process.
  • You will then need to appoint a professional team of Project Managers, Architect, Quantity Surveyor and Principal Designer to design and procure the remediation work required. The team will produce tender documents that reflect the technical requirements for replacement cladding and meet the criteria as set out by the BSF.
  • On return of tenders, the Quantity Surveyor will undertake a full analysis of the prices received and this will be used to assist with the completion of the BSF application.

Some of the key pitfalls to be aware of:-

  1. Extent of Remedial Works: In some cases an acceptable standard of fire safety can be achieved without removing all combustible materials in the external wall build. The holistic fire safety review is important in achieving this. The extent and location of the combustible products will determine if they need to be removed or not. And remember, not all building elements are covered by the fund.
  2. Thermal Performance: PIR, PUR and EPS insulation materials can all provide good levels of thermal performance for a given thickness of material. Non-combustible stone wool based materials, for example, generally require a greater thickness to achieve the same level of performance which will change the external profile of the building and will impact on windows and doors for example, and may require further planning approval.
  3. Cladding Material Weight: Changing the external cladding material may have a significant impact on the proposed works. The primary structure will have been designed to accommodate the loadings of the existing cladding system. Switching from a light weight system such as EWI, to steel cassette will increase weight and structural investigations will be required to establish the maximum loading permissible.
  4. Additional Work: Consideration of other issues and defects in the structure which may not be readily apparent such as, lack of fixings, the need to replace carrier rails to cladding panels due to compatibility etc. Additional investigations and studies during the design phase will provide insight into these issues.

Following a successful funding application, a works Contract must be in place with the successful contractor and the works must commence on site prior to the 30 September 2021.  The professional team will monitor progress and costs and provide monthly updates to the MHCLG. At Practical Completion you will also be required to provide evidence to MHCLG of sign off from your competent professionals and building control. The Final Account is to be produced on an Open Book basis to help MHCLG maintain a clear line of sight between the cost requirements for eligible works compared to the funds granted.

To read the article in the latest News on the Block Issue 112 click here

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