Nobel House FAQs

Nobel House Residents Update 19.02.21

Questions for Y&Y Management

Q1: When is the building insurance due for renewal and will there be an impact on the premium from all of this? What have Y&Y been quoted for renewal, insurance companies/brokers give notice of renewal premiums well in advance of their renewal date.

A: The date for renewal is 01.03.21. 

Q2: What is the height of the building (as per measurement methodology for the Building Safety Fund) just so we can be certain that it is applicable for the fund? 

A: The height is 21.459m as confirmed by the consultant following measurements on site last week. This should mean it is eligible for the Building Safety Fund.

Q3. If it is confirmed that Nobel House is lacking cavity breaks and fire stops, a building regulation requirement at the time the building was signed off, will Y&Y be making a claim against the NHBC or Hollybrook? Or have you already?

A: No, we are awaiting full and reliable evidence from the report after the new investigations.

Q4: What is the completion date for the Capital survey report?

A: From the consultants’ schedule, we should get the full report and costings around 19th March.

Questions for Raven

Q1: What scenario planning are they doing on how they will support their shared owners in event of full funding; partial funding; no funding; rumoured government “loans”? Raven now have had over 5 months of notice on this issue, so what plans have they discussed so to support with managing the extensive projected costs.

A: Support for our shared ownership customers at Nobel House is discussed at executive level regularly and we do understand what a really difficult situation our customers face. As your question suggests, there are still so many uncertainties surrounding what government funding will be available to complete remedial work and of course we still don’t know until the current survey is complete the extent of the work that is needed. Unsatisfactory as it is, we need to wait for greater clarity on what work is needed and what funding will be available.

Q2: Shared Ownership leases allow Raven to pass on 100% of costs to full owners. Essentially, each shared ownership flat is a Raven asset. Has consideration been given to only passing costs according to the percentage of the flat the shared owner owns? It seems that Raven would substantially benefit by contributing zero cost.

A: As above, this will all be reviewed once we know the work needed, costs and level of government subsidy.

Nobel House Residents Update 05.02.21

Below is the weekly update on progress on the Nobel House cladding issue, including responses in red to specific questions that residents posed.

Further questions asked by members of the Facebook group, collated 20.01.21.

Answers are from Y&Y Management

Q1: What is the official height of Nobel House? This will be important for our Building Safety Fund application.

A: This will be something the surveyor will be able to advise on. We believe the height to be just above 18M.

Q2: Who currently provides Nobel House's Buildings Insurance? What is the current annual premium, and when is the renewal date?

A: The freeholder is responsible for taking out buildings insurance. The current annual premium is £19,938.22. The renewal is the 1st March 2021.

Q3: Please provide us with the latest progress on contract negotiations with the new company for the intrusive survey and BSF application

A: The intrusive survey work is due to start week commencing Monday 8th February.

Q4. Has any progress been made on contacting the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) who are administering the BSF, to determine the status of Nobel House's invitation to apply?

A: We are regularly checking the status of the BSF but have not yet been invited to apply.

Q5: With insurance companies it is always important to initiate a claim when the issues first become evident and whilst we don’t know the current extent of the problem, please could Y&Y confirm that they have definitely “lodged” (as stated in the Minutes of the zoom call 8thJanuary 2021) a claim with NHBC for the missing cavity barriers and fire stops that have already been identified.

A: A claim won’t be made until the survey is completed and we know what remedial work will be required.

Q6: Having read the Warrington Report, we can see that it includes a fire test on a section of ACM cladding from Nobel House, but there is no mention of the Trespa cladding which covers most of our building. In the zoom call meeting of 8thJanuary Aaron stated that testing of the Trespa cladding “was originally done by the governments testing facility” and that he would send the report from Warrington. Can Y&Y explain why the Trespa cladding was not included in the Warrington Report sent through with the Minutes and send definitive proof of the tests that have been carried out on the Trespa cladding, together with results from that testing.

A: That is a very good question and one that we asked the same of the firm who carried out the survey/testing. This is one of many reasons why we could not rely on the report’s findings. We understand was that they felt that there was no need to test the Trespa cladding because of findings available from the original developer and tests carried out by the Government testing lab.

Q7: In the questions submitted to Y&Y for the zoom call on 8thJanuary when asked “Why have Y&Y involved firms and then dismissed their findings” you said that you had “used the previous contractor on other buildings without issue, however it appears that Nobel House proved too complicated and their standards were not acceptable. We therefore felt it was necessary to obtain a new survey.” Please can you now explain which company you are referring to by “previous contractor”, why Nobel House proved “too complicated” and why “their standards were not acceptable”?

A: The report that was attached to the minutes carried out by the firm JWA. I’m afraid we don’t know why it was too complicated.

Q8: As we understand it, JWA commissioned the Fire test by Warrington Test Lab and that you are withholding the entire fee because the work was 'inadequate'. On the face of it the Warrington report is a perfectly straightforward test report on the ACM cladding which was supplied to them. The assessment of the JWA report would depend on what brief they were given. Could Y & Y explain whether it is JWA's or Warrington's part of the package which they consider inadequate and precisely why, along with the cost of each part of the bill in question?

A: We consider the package as a whole unsuitable and not fit for purpose.

Q9: One of the questions on the zoom call 8th January asked “Can the original construction company not provide answers regarding the types of materials used originally” and Y&Y’s reply was that you have obtained these from the developers. Does this mean that Y&Y have been able to ascertain the types of cladding specified in the original plans? If so, despite an intrusive survey being required to fully ascertain the situation, please can you supply us with this information now?

A: The information we have from the developers was included in the attachments sent out with the minutes. We also have all the O and M manuals however that does not mean it complies with current legislation which has changed in recent years, the need for new investigations.

Q10: It is good to hear that Y&Y have been in contact with Hollybrook (the original developers) as they and the freeholder Avon may need to prepare a case against them if it is found that building regulations were not followed; it is not just the fault of the building control inspector if there are faults or omissions in the installations on buildings, all the various sectors involved will be expected to take their share of the blame and ultimately bear the costs. The government has stipulated many times that they wish to protect leaseholders from the remediation costs of putting right historical faults in the building system as a whole and as such will expect freeholders/owners/landlords to remediate their buildings as a matter of urgency and to pursue all avenues with insurance companies, builders, developers to reimburse costs either to themselves or back to the government if loans have been taken out in the form of a grant from either of the Building Safety Funds (ACM and non ACM). What plans or preparations have Avon/Y&Y made towards making a case against Hollybrook and how do they propose to manage this?

A: We will let you know once they have been back in touch with us.

Q11: Please can Y&Y confirm the date by which the government requires completion of the remediation work for non ACM cladding when funded by a grant from the Building Safety Fund?

A: On the 17th December 2020 the MCHLG announced an extension to the closing date for applications to the BSF to 30th June 2021 with the start on site date moving to 30th September 2021.

Questions raised at the virtual meeting 08.01.21

Present situation

Q12: Most cladding is ‘Trespa’ or similar and is considered safe. Is this confirmed? Were samples tested? 

A: At present, we understand from the developers that is the case. Testing has also been carried out at two points of the building. The results of these tests confirmed that the cladding tested was non-ACM.

Q13: The small strip alongside ‘Queensway stairs’ is ACM and is the only cladding considered unsafe and that requires replacement. The rest is Trespa. Please confirm.

A: Correct. That is our understanding. There may be other issues with cavity barriers, however at this stage we cannot confirm. We will be able to do so once the intrusive survey is carried out.

Q14: Fire stops and cavity barriers are said to be missing. To what extent and where?

A: Please see response above.

Q15: Understand balconies with wooden decking need replacement. Is this advisory or compulsory legislation.

A: That would depend on the type of structure. It is an issue if the balcony decking is combustible with no metal structure below. This will all be clear once the survey is completed.

Q16: Weekly fire inspections are being carried out. Why? Surely nothing changes week to week.

A: Weekly fire checks were recommended by the fire officer and firm that carry out the fire risk assessment for the block.

Costs and grants

Q17: NHBC may be liable for missing fire stop/cavity barriers but if construction passed building regulations at the time, we have no case. Is this being looked into further by Y&Y?

A: Once we have the findings of the survey we will consider this.

Q18: Government grants for ACM have been retrospectively applied for. Please send proof. Why not sent in time?

A: We don’t have proof as such, because our application has not been accepted nor have we been invited to apply at this stage. The second part of the question is not relevant as this was applied for in the correct timeline.

Q19: ACM/non-ACM grants have both been applied for. Please send proof. Will deadlines be met? 

A: We were not able to apply to the ACM fund as this fund closed before there was any evidence of ACM on the block.

Q20: If the original construction company can’t advise the types of materials used, have copies of original specifications and drawings been requested?  Please request copies of specifications.

See answer to Q9 above.

Q21: New consultants details should be confirmed by 22 Jan. When will proposal and timeline be available?

A: These details have already been shared.

Q22: Y&Y have pre-registered for the Building Safety Fund but still not received an invitation to apply for the full 1st Stage Application. Is there a reason? Have all criteria been met? Please send proof. Will deadlines be met? 

A: We do not know why at this stage that we have not yet received an invitation. Please see response to Q18.

Q23: State aid forms must be completed by all owners (i.e. both partners if joint owned). These have to be sent to Y&Y (the responsible entity) to send on. Why haven’t we been asked to do this yet? Is it still necessary post Brexit? This will take some time: organising, collating and checking. When will Y&Y organise this?

A:  We will only be able to do this once we have been invited to apply.

Unfortunately, many owners have lost faith in Y&Y and are demanding proof of actions that we are told have happened.

We would respectfully therefore ask that you supply copies of the following:

  1. Claim lodged with NHBC. We are not able to share email correspondence with the NHBC however we have lodged a claim and the details of the claim will only be sent over once we have the findings of the survey being carried out starting week commencing 8th February.
  2. Proof of both non-ACM and ACM requests for funding – please see response above.
  3. Nobel House Health & Safety and Fire Safety Policies – The Fire Risk Assessment was provided with the minutes of the recent meeting. Please follow link to view – click here.
  4. Trespa testing report (if it was carried out – This was also provided with the minutes of the recent meeting. Please follow link to view – click here.
  5. Buildings original specifications and drawings from NHBC Building Control – We can have the O and M manuals sent over however the files are far too large to email across.
  6. Copy of the new survey as soon as it becomes available – This will be distributed.

Nobel House Residents Update 03.02.21

To view the scope of work for the new consultants appointed please click here

Nobel House Residents Update 22.01.21

Below is the weekly update on progress on the Nobel House cladding issue, including responses in red to specific questions that residents posed in recent days. Answers to the other questions asked by residents will follow next week.

Questions asked by Jo Hills, Raven Housing Trust, answered by Aaron from Y&Y Monday 18.01.21

Q1: As I understand it, we had agreed on a plan to undertake the investigations now and then, once we have the costs and works plan, to proceed to negotiated tender to enable us to meet the BSF deadlines. But meanwhile to also begin a normal S20 process once we have the results of the investigations and costs and works plan to run in parallel in case the BSF funding does not come through.

A: That is correct. We are awaiting a further update and conformation on the timeline from Capital. The timeline is dependent on confirmation from Surrey County Council that a crane licence is granted. As soon as the licence is secured Capital have a crane on standby for either w/c 25.01.21 or w/c 01.02.21.

Q2: I’m not sure if there has been communication that I was not copied into with Capital - have you commissioned them formally now to begin work? 

A: As per the above, we have not yet had confirmation. I have chased this week (w/c 18.01.21).

Q3: Can they still meet their proposed timescale of completing the investigations by end January?

A: I hope they can, however, I will know more once I have some further detail from them. I do worry when dealing with these firms that pushed too hard, they throw in the towel. 

Q4: Have you had any response yet from BSF confirming the invitation to apply?

A: Not yet. I have however just got off the phone to the GSA and asked them to chase this for me. 

Q5: What is the status of/progress with the NHBC claim?

A: We have not heard back however. It will really depend on the report once back form capital.  At the moment, we do not have much to go on.

Q6: What progress has been made in seeking remedy from the developer, Hollybrook?

A: I will come back to you on this once I have heard back from them.

Q7: Have you now also submitted the application for the ACM cladding fund?

A: Yes, we are awaiting a response. However following discussions with a contact at the GLA. I am not sure we will be able to still claim off this one given the deadline for claims was a long while back

Q8: Have you now submitted an application for the fire safety equipment/waking watch fund to cover the costs of the extra fire checks?

A: Not yet. We are still not clear on how this process is working. I am not aware the government have advised yet.

Q9: And just to note that we agreed to leave the EWS1 form until the work is completed to get a clean sign off, so this not a distraction to getting the work completed and the BSF funding won.

A: Yes, that is correct.

Further questions asked by members of the Facebook group, answered by Jo Hills

Q: We remain extremely concerned about the specifics of the service that Capital have been tasked with providing - it's vital this firm are competent, qualified and most importantly actually tasked with delivering the full scope of what is required.

A: The consultants are not yet formally signed to a contract as Aaron is still in negotiations with them, querying details of costs and specification. He is challenging them on cost and working out the correct scope of works. They have booked resources and cranes in the meantime and are just waiting for SCC pavement permits. We now expect work to begin next week or shortly after. They come recommended from H&S experts that we know, have done work on other Building Safety Fund jobs which the fund has found acceptable, and Raven’s lawyer has worked with them previously on a similar job and thought them reputable.

Nobel House Virtual Meeting 08.01.2021 at 11am.

Panel:

  • Jo Hills, Director of Assets & Services Raven Housing Trust (Chair) (JH)
  • Aaron Bloom, Property Manager Y&Y Management (AB)
  • Martin Andrews, Chair 4 Queensway Management (MA)
  • David Robb, Home Ownership Manager Raven Housing Trust (DR)
  • April Gargiulo (minutes)

Residents/Owners: Ben Rowe, Edward Paul Shrimpton, Robert Isaac, John Hooper, Dave & Bethan Langrish, Tony Rooth, Maddy Homewood, Mrs J Shah/Sarika Shah, Mark Luson, Michael Linden, Renee Boyce, Luke Tilleray, Olivia Hogman, Paul Nash, Andrew Walker, Kieran Carratt

Also attending: Gareth Owen & Teresa Craig from the Office of Crispin Blunt MP.

JH:

Introduction of panel.

Y&Y and Raven do not have new information to communicate today but are here to answer what questions we can and to hear residents’ concerns to feed into the process. We will also take away any questions that we cannot answer at this time and provide responses as the work progresses.

We are all in a difficult position, but this meeting allows us to move forward and needs to be positive to make this possible.

The context is changing daily, and we recommend you follow this on Twitter. Many residents may be more knowledgeable than we are, and we ask that everyone keeps sharing information in the owners Facebook group so that we can all stay best informed.

The Building Safety Fund has been extended, and the Daily Mail has started a campaign around this. The Government is also looking into a range of possible alternative funding mechanisms, including mortgages, to help spread costs out.

MA:

Introduction of organisations, and an explanation of who everyone is.

Y&Y is the manging agent, appointed by Avon Estates.

4QM represents the homeowners.

Raven Housing Trust represents the shared owners.

All of whom are working together to ensure the maintenance of the building is carried out correctly.

Questions:

Which agency approved the building design and cladding?

AB - The developer was Hollybrook.

Several questions were received around NHBC liability, particularly for a lack of general fire stops or cavity barriers identified affecting the Trespa cladding area in the JWA report. These appear to be construction faults that should be covered by NHBC. Can Y&Y confirm if and when they are lodging a claim with NHBC in respect of these items?

AB - We have lodged a claim with them a few days ago, however we not too sure at this point if the claim will be valid, given it was signed off by building regulations at the time and the materials may have met building standards at that point.

If the repairs are necessitated because Building Regulations were not followed, especially around fire breaks in cavity walls between properties, there may be recourse against the building firm who did not comply and the building regulations inspector who signed the building off. What is Y&Y doing to pursue this option, rather than charge leaseholders for repairs?

AB - If this was signed off by building control then there would have been no reason for the developers to have assumed there were any issues. We will always try every avenue; however, it is very unlikely that this will be a fault of the developers. It is also unlikely for Y&Y to take out a lawsuit against the developers for this.

Isn’t the freeholder responsible for the exterior?

AB - Yes, the freeholder is responsible for the exterior and communal areas of the building, which is why Y&Y carry out the works. But this is recharged to leaseholders through their service charges as per the terms of their leases.

Should 4QM seek legal clarification of the cost and liability, and push to secure firm timing from Y&Y/Avon?

MA – 4QM is not a business, we have no funds available. We can only ask Y&Y to carry out works on residents’ behalf.

What responsibility sits with RBBC (for planning permission and building control), Avon as the freeholder and seller of the flats, Y&Y who have maintained the property, NHBC, and the government?

AB – it is the freeholder’s responsibility to ensure the block meets the standards required as per the lease, and therefore to carry out the works required by the report. If there is an issue with the building construction, then NHBC will accept and proceed the claim. Unsure what the governments’ position would be.

Why has it taken so long for us to still not know what cladding we have, exactly how high the building is, what work is required and the potential costs?

AB – We were always under the impression that the block and the cladding had been confirmed and that it was deemed to be safe, following tests carried out by the GOV Testing together with Fire Risk Assessments from developers. Legislation changed over time, we got 2 parts of the building tested as per the original requirements and both came back clear. When MHCLG released new legislation, there was confusion with the ESW1 forms and the new requirements. We have since been in touch with numerous cladding experts.

When do you expect the cladding to be replaced?

AB – That would depend on the process, and how fast we can get quotations and funding approval. We would like to be able to provide timescales within the next few weeks but cannot confirm that at this stage. We may look at serving the first Section 20 notice shortly, to ensure that it is in place by the time we are able to look at quotations.

So to confirm, the cladding (apart from the small strip) is still meeting regulations and shouldn’t need replacing?

AB – correct, the main issues flagged up are on the fire risk assessment. The small strip of cladding does need removing, though.

The cladding that does need replacing is ACM, for which previous government funding has closed. There has been mention of retrospective applications, will you be looking into this?

AB – Yes, we have been in contact and made initial steps for retrospective funding. We have applied for both non-ACM and ACM funding.

What is the name of the company that you are currently using?

JH – We are still in negotiations at this point and have not signed contracts, so it is not appropriate for us to name them at this stage. They were very busy last year dealing with those that had already obtained funding and were prioritising them.

AB – We hope to issue agreements in the next few days, but we are still in negotiation and finalising.

Is this contractor a replacement for Warrington? Have we seen the Warrington Report?

AB – the Warrington testing was inconclusive, and the report was not shared previously due to the lack of reliability in it. We can share it, though. CLICK HERE

Must the Section 20 process be completed before applying for the Building Safety Fund? It would be far preferable to apply for the funding first, and then go through the Section 20 process only if funding is not achieved. Otherwise leaseholders will be making decisions on whether to object to work without knowing how much of the costs they will be liable for. This would cause further delays to the BSF application.

AB – we already took the decision to apply for the fund in case it was required. The Section 20 is not required for the fund; however, it speeds up the process in case the funding doesn’t go through. Once we have the report back and we are sure of the works required, we will start the Section 20 process.

Y&Y believe work may commence in May 2021. How can they be confident of this without knowing what is required?

AB – We don’t. We will only confirm dates once we have the full report back from the firm.

The BRE report in August 2017 states that the building does have cavity insulation. However, the JQA report from August 2020 states that in location 2 there is insulation that they do not believe “is manufactured from correctly certified fire-stop material” and in location 3 there is “no visible insulation, fire-stops or cavity barriers observed within the cladding zone in this location” Why is there a contradiction between these two reports, and what steps are now being undertaken to obtain the truth?

AB – This is the very reason we are bringing in a separate firm to carry out a report, to enable us to understand exactly what is needed. We do not want to be carrying out work that isn’t required, in case the other reports were incorrect.

Please could Y&Y confirm the details of the new consultants leading on this, and given that no Section 20 has been served confirm that their costs are therefore below £250 per property?

AB – Legal and surveyors fees do not require a Section 20, and therefore there will not be a consultation carried out for this. We are currently negotiating costs with them.

It is good to hear the latest consultants have been sent their formal proposal with timeline and costs this week. Will this proposal and timeline please be made available for residents to view ASAP, so we have a clearer picture of what is being planned, given the uncertainty?

AB – Once this is clarified we cannot see a reason why not, but regarding commercial confidentiality requirements we may not be able to release the whole proposal. Agreements should be signed within the next two weeks, hopefully.

Who will pay for the works?

AB – if the government funding and potential NHBC claim does not cover the entire cost, then the remainder will be recharged to leaseholders through their service charges.

What is the potential cost per property?

AB – At this stage, we aren’t sure. We don’t expect it to be of the scale that people will have seen in the news for some blocks, but residents should be prepared that it could be as high as £30-£40,000 per property.

There are two government funds, one for ACM cladding and one for non-ACM cladding, which fund have Y&Y registered for, or both?

AB – We have registered for the non-ACM fund already, however there is the potential for us to retrospectively apply for the ACM fund.

Last year, to get any funding, the applicant had to provide State Aid Forms for all owners who were subletting commercially, and confirmation of residence for all other owners. Given the issues with contacting is this on Y&Y’s radar to complete shortly, or is this no longer required?

AB – As far as we are aware, this is still required, and we would still expect each leaseholder to fill in the required documents.

The Building Safety Fund Application Guidance states that the initial pre-registration phase, applicants must be invited to apply for the full application. Specifically it states “Please do not attempt to apply until you have received this invitation” Y&Y have previously confirmed that they have pre-registered Nobel House for the fund during the pre-registration phase, but could they please confirm specifically that they have now received Nobel House’s invitation to apply for the First Stage Application?

AB – No we have not, however we have been in contact with them and are awaiting a response.

Currently, what are the costs associated with the additional fire safety checks that are happening weekly, and the reports that they have been commissioning?

AB – We have weekly monitoring in place, and currently the costs are around £430 per month.

Just prior to Christmas the government announced a further fund to pay for additional fire safety equipment or Waking Watches. I believe the latter does not apply to us, but the former might. Have steps been taken to apply for funds from this source for actions that may serve to reduce insurance costs?

AB - We are awaiting further details regarding the fund and are aware that the government are due to release further information on this shortly.

How will Raven be able to support shared ownerships if they cannot afford the bills like we have seen in the media, where the costs equal more than their share?

DR – shared owners are aware that the lease entitles us to recharge any service charge incurred. Our directors and Chief Exec are aware of the situation and are sympathetic with the residents’ situation. The costs are currently speculative, and so is funding, so we have no idea of potential service charges at this point. We will be having conversations with directors about what costs are passed on, and what repayment terms we can offer, but we cannot take any decisions at this point.

If, in the worst-case scenario, costs are recharged to leaseholders, how will this be charged and how much will come from the sinking fund?

AB – We will look to take a relatively large sum out of the sinking fund to assist with the costs, and we would hope to be able to provide staggered payment terms, but we cannot confirm yet.

If we do obtain a grant, can work begin before funding is received or do we have to wait for the funds?

AB – When we reach this stage, the government will set out clear timetables and payment dates to be agreed with the contractor. Payments are normally staggered once work has started.

Will Raven pay for the next valuation of my flat given they knew of this potential hurdle when going on the market?

DR – Our first awareness of any issues around cladding was when 4QM posted on Facebook on 18th August. Prior to that we had no knowledge to pass on, but if anyone feels that we misled them after that date then please contact me directly and we can discuss how to either investigate or proceed through the complaints process.

While Y&Y consider the Warrington report unacceptable, the findings are still of interest and would inform leaseholders some more, can the report be shared?

AB – Yes, we will share this with residents that would like it. CLICK HERE

When will there be a completed and signed off ESW1?

AB – Once the findings have been concluded, we can potentially obtain an ESW1 form, however it would only give the building a B2 rating which states that it is not compliant, plus it would cost additional money. We would prefer to leave this until the final works have been completed, as this would then generate a compliant ESW1.

As this continues, what process will there be for regular reporting to keep all parties informed?

AB – I think the best way forward would be bi-monthly reports collated between Y&Y, Raven and 4QM to be shared on social media, with interim updates of anything particularly useful in between from Raven via 4QM to the Facebook group and Raven’s website.

Whilst the communication between Raven and 4QM has been great, I am unhappy with the lack of communication from Y&Y.

JH – Y&Y have been fully engaged with all updates that have been produced by Raven and 4QM.

What representations have been made to local MP, councillors, or MP’s leading the national campaign on this?

Both JH and AB have been in contact with local councillors and the MP’s office who have enquired about the issue. The MP’s representative also attended the meeting and asked to be kept up dated as we progress.

Do you think we need a waking watch?

AB – Not according to our fire risk assessor, the weekly checks are enough.

Can Y&Y supply the Health & Safety and Fire Safety Policies affecting the building?

AB – Yes, we can supply the latest documents. CLICK HERE

Why have Y&Y involved firms and then dismissed their findings?

AB – We have been through numerous firms who have pulled out at various stages due to insurance policies not covering their risk, including a large number who have found that the block is just too big for them to deal with. There are too few firms in the country to carry out the work required to every building requiring an ESW1, which results in contractors carrying out work they shouldn’t be. We used the previous contractor on other buildings without issue, however it appears that Nobel House proved too complicated and their standards were not acceptable. We therefore felt it was necessary to obtain a new survey.

The two firms that have been dismissed, JWA and Warrington Fire, how much has it cost just for them to investigate and provide reports?

AB – They were not two separate companies, JWA hired Warrington to carry out their testing. I believe their costs were around £3,000 however I am aware that we are withholding payment due to their unacceptable work.

How much is in the sinking fund, and how much impact will it have on the overall cost of the work?

AB – Unsure how much is in it now, but it won’t have a massive impact on the total spending cost.

MA – the funds in there still have to cover the lighting and upcoming redecoration project.

Can the original construction company not provide answers regarding the types of materials used originally (in addition to an independent inspection)?

AB – Specifications were obtained from developers, however on reports they state items they assume to be there – but stipulate that intrusive surveys should be done for clarification.

If Y&Y have other buildings in similar situations, where are we in comparison to them? Are there lessons that can be learnt from other blocks?

AB – Y&Y deal with a range blocks, some of which do need complete re-cladding. They all have different levels of work required, and we take knowledge learnt on one building and share it across departments and teams.

Comment from attendee: Firstly, whether you are an investor in Nobel House, or live there, I would like to raise the point that this is still a fire risk. If there is a fire, there are three escape routes and I would recommend ensuring all tenants have working smoke alarms in order to avoid Grenfell v2. Secondly, I emailed Y&Y in 2017 shortly after Grenfell and got a different response on the cladding to what we now know today. If we are saying this affects thousands across the country, then we should surely start addressing a collective action in the first instance rather than paying out first. And thirdly, we appreciate those who are not getting paid to deal with this but are still putting in their time.

When was the Trespa cladding tested to be safe, and can we see the report?

AB – Yes you can see the report. It was originally done by the governments testing facility.

Mr Blunt’s fellow conservative MPs are proposing an amendment to the fire safety bill, which would prevent costs going up. Approximately 20 others have added their names, can we ask Mr Blunt to do so?

Teresa – Crispin Blunt has written to various constituents; however, he doesn’t believe the amendment is the right place for cladding costs to be covered. He has supported the “All Party Parliamentary Group set up for Leasehold and Commonhold Reform” to try and protect all leaseholders caught in this.

Jo Hills:

We will continue to provide updates going forward when we have them, and we will possibly convene again in the same way once we have more information. Please send in any further questions, and we will continue to respond to them.

Meeting Finished.

Nobel House Residents Update 05.01.21

Below is the weekly update on progress on the Nobel House cladding issue, including responses in red to specific questions that residents posed in recent days.

Q: After the unsatisfactory report from Warrington Fire in October, which has caused months of delay to the process so far, what checks and balances have been put in place to ensure that the new consultants will provide a complete and satisfactory service? Has a Statement of Works been agreed in advance, and if so, what does it cover?

A: Aaron at Y&Y has advised that they are yet to appoint a consultant but we do expect that due diligence is to be carried out before the formal appointment of any consultant. The consultants that have been reviewing the documentation and giving advice on the past reports and way forward, were unable to draw up a proposal earlier due to getting all the submissions done for clients who were able to submit for the 31st Dec Building Safety Fund deadline. These are now complete, so they have just sent a formal proposal with timeline and costs this weekend which Aaron at Y&Y is reviewing. Y&Y are also looking into other firms to ensure best value.

Q: Are Raven willing to cover valuations for sales that have fallen through when they next go onto the market? I suspect they had an inclination of the cladding issues when we decided to go on the market and we weren’t warned at all.

A: No, as with all purchases and sales Raven are neither regulated nor qualified to give advice or make recommendations. Raven was aware of the issues from 19/08, the same day as 4QM posted the issue on the residents’ Facebook group.

Q: I also personally have reservations about Y&Y potentially bypassing the Section 20 leaseholder consultation route. I completely agree that we need to seek government funding as quickly as possible as this is in everyone’s best interests, but I’m concerned about the subsequent implications for leaseholders if funding is not successfully achieved. There have been reports in the media of some applications receiving either partial funding or even no funding at all, so if we skip the Section 20 and then don’t receive funding, this could put us in a difficult position. However, at this point I’ll wait to see what Y&Y report on this issue before asking any specific questions. 

A: Aaron at Y&Y has clarified that once they have the full report back on the building cladding status, should works be required – which is most likely - they will serve the Section 20 right away in order to follow the process as early as they possibly can in case we do not receive the grant funding.

Nobel House Residents Update 22.12.20

Below is the weekly update on progress on the Nobel House cladding issue, including responses in red to specific questions that residents posed to Y&Y via the Nobel House Facebook Group.

We were all pleased to hear that there has been an extension to the Building Safety Fund which may give us a better chance of getting funding.  Y&Y and Raven jointly met with the consultants this week and they have confirmed that they should be able to get all documentation completed for full submission to the Building Safety Fund in March at the latest. 

Y&Y may need to seek dispensation from the normal Section 20 leaseholder consultation route to meet the timeframe to access the government funding. They will be seeking advice on this and advising back to us.

We are arranging a meeting for early January 2021 between residents, Y&Y and Raven and will confirm the date for this as soon as possible.

Responses from Y&Y (in red) to your questions:

Q: Why do Y&Y believe we will be eligible for the Government funding since the JWA report identified ACM cladding, but the Government Building Safety Fund is for non-ACM cladding systems? Is this to cover the missing fire breaks and cavity insulation in the non-ACM parts of the building?

A: We are not sure that we are going to be accepted however we see no reason not to be covered. This would cover all non-ACM issues and we hope that if potentially there is ACM, it will also be covered under the project however there are no guarantees at this stage. We are aware the timeline for the funding has been extended and this is good news.

Q: Why did the survey commissioned in 2018 following the Grenfell disaster not reveal the ACM cladding at the time? Could residents please be provided with a copy of this report, to supplement the JWA report from August 2020?

A: The report that took place looked at the main makeup of the cladding at the site. Samples were taken and sent off for testing which came back as non-ACM. See report below which was emailed on 14.8.17. We also have reports from our Fire Risk Assessor as below.

Q: In light of the new JWA report, have Y&Y made, or will they be making, an application to the ACM Cladding Remediation Fund, in addition to the Building Safety Fund which is for the non-ACM systems in the building?

A: The reason for the second report which we are looking to carry out, is that the JWA report was not detailed enough to make the full claim with. Therefore, we will only be able to look into options once this has been provided.

Q: Why did Y&Y/Avon decide to buy the freehold of Nobel House from the original developers in 2014 without carrying out detailed surveys, especially regarding building and fire safety regulations? This is in regard of the revelation that JWA has found a lack of fire stops and cavity barriers behind the cladding, a building regulation that has been mandatory for many years.

A: Y & Y manage the block on behalf of the Freeholders and 4QM. We have no information as to why the freeholders took the decision to purchase the block and under what terms, however I do know that if building regulations were signed off, there would have been no reason to query any further.

Q: Has the Trespa cladding that covers most of our building been tested for compliance to fire safety regulations. There are several versions of Trespa cladding, is ours the fire-resistant type?

A: As per response in point one. The cladding is non-ACM and is compliant as per our knowledge so far.

Q: Why doesn't Avon/Y&Y apply to NHBC for fire safety faults when our buildmark policy covers this until 2023? Y&Y recently updated that they did not believe NHBC would cover cladding issues created by recent legislation, but our understanding is that while this may be true, NHBC will cover the lack of fire stops and cavity barriers identified by JWA as they have been regulated for the last 30+ years.

A: We will relook at the possibility of going through the NHBC for this issue if required following the new assessment being carried out. At present and as advised previously, the report was not detailed enough to make the full claim with.

Q: Do Avon/Y&Y have specifications or detailed plans for Nobel House? Could these documents be shared with owners?

A: Y & Y do have Operation and Maintenance manuals. These documents are so large that they are unable to be sent by email. 

Nobel House Residents Update 14.12.20

Y&Y has heard back from the consultant who had been looking into doing the new report. They confirmed that they will only be able to begin work on reviewing the files Aaron sent them in w/c 14th Dec and that their fire engineers are fully booked until mid/late January.  Aaron is chasing up an alternative provider that he has been speaking with, to see if they can act any quicker.

As was mentioned in the Facebook group, politicians are looking at potential solutions to these issues and it is a good time to be informing your MP of our issues and asking for their support for the best solution for us. Raven has already asked Crispin Blunt for his support in getting an extension to the grant and increase to the fund size. It would help him to know how many people are concerned about this if you could let him know your thoughts direct too.

UPDATE 21st October 2020

We are aware that information has been shared that includes an update on the inspection that took place in July, of the exterior wall system at Nobel House, which has understandably raised further questions, please find below additional FAQs:

Q: I’ve heard that the initial report received means that lenders will now be in a position to approve new mortgages on Nobel House, is that the case?

A: We understand that this is not the case, but we are not qualified or regulated to give financial advice. We therefore recommend that you discuss with your own lender or financial adviser what lending options might be available.

Q: Does the new information supplied mean that we know what remedial work is required, how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost and who is going to pay for it?

A: Unfortunately, no. Y&Y Management have confirmed that they have started the process of exploring the answers to these questions by seeking further advice from the external wall system expert that undertook this initial assessment. 

MANAGEMENT OF NOBEL HOUSE

Q: Who owns Nobel House?

A: The freehold for Nobel House is owned by Avon Ground Rents Ltd, Raven Housing Trust was granted a head lease for each of the flats it purchased, which then enabled us to grant sub-leases to our shared owners. This therefore means that Raven are also a leaseholder.

Q: Who is responsible for property management at Nobel House?

A: Y&Y Management has been appointed by Avon Ground Rents Ltd as managing agents for Nobel House, their responsibilities include:

  • Collection of service charge
  • Management of contractors
  • Compliance with relevant company and property law
  • Management of on-site staff
  • Preparation of budgets, financial forecasts and year-end accounts
  • Handling solicitors’ enquiries on the sale of individual properties
  • Engaging and management of maintenance contracts and repairs
  • Administration of insurance and communal claims
  • Compliance with health and safety legislation
  • Attending meetings
  • Regular property visits and inspections.

Q: Who do I contact at Y&Y Management if I have a query?

A: Aaron Bloom is Nobel House’s Property Manager. You can contact him by email at aaron@yymanagement.co.uk but please copy Raven in to any emails you send using the email address: homeownership@ravenht.org

Q: Who are 4QM?

A: Raven own a proportion of the homes at Nobel House. The properties that aren’t owned by Raven are represented by a Residents’ Management Company called, 4 Queensway Management (4QM).  We often work together in order to maintain the smooth running of the building. You may already know some of their current officers, details can be found here.  

MORTGAGE DIFFICULTIES

Q: I’ve heard that there may be a problem at the moment if I want to sell my flat at Nobel House, is that true?

A: Yes, some of you may have experienced or be aware of issues with mortgages. Lenders now require a building owner to produce an additional certificate (EWS1). The EWS1 certification process records in a consistent way external wall systems (cladding) on residential apartment buildings where the highest floor is 18m or more above ground level or where specific concerns exist. These are completed by a Chartered Fire Engineer.  We understand that Y&Y Management are in the process of trying to obtain this certificate on behalf of the building owner of Nobel House.  

Q: Why are EWS1 certificates required?

A: The Grenfell Tower fire has led to uncertainty around which buildings are safe.  A significant section of the housing market is being put on hold as mortgage lenders are nervous about lending people money against some buildings, until they have been tested for fire safety. 

Q: How long will this take?

A: We have asked Y&Y Management to give an indication of the timescales are but we do understand that this is very difficult. There are a limited number of qualified inspectors across the country that are working through thousands of requests. The inspection that is currently underway we know can be time-consuming and qualified inspectors are currently working through a significant backlog.

Q: Will this affect me if I want to re-mortgage or buy more shares in my home?

A: Yes, if you need to arrange a new mortgage on your home you will also be affected.

Q: What do I do if I can’t afford to live here and can’t sell either whilst this is being sorted out?

A: If as a result of the uncertainty currently at Nobel House you are worried about the financial implications you may face, please get in touch with us at homeownership@ravenht.org so that we can discuss your options and offer support through our money advice service, Moneywise.  Raven’s Moneywise service helps residents to find ways to maximise their income and reduce their expenditure.

Q. What are Raven doing to help?

A: We understand this situation is incredibly frustrating for all leaseholders. All across the country Housing Associations urgently want the problem to be resolved.  As well as directly affecting leaseholders, this is also impacting on housing associations’ ability buy and sell affordable housing to people in need.  

We are in regular contact with Y&Y Management.  We will of course continue to maintain a dialogue with them and our shared owners at Nobel House until this is satisfactorily resolved.

In the meantime, as a sector, Housing Associations are asking Government to work with mortgage lenders to find an urgent solution that will allow the housing market to operate normally during this period of uncertainty.  

Q: How often will you be updating me?

A: For the latest updates on Nobel House please visit our homeowners information page on here, which we will update with any new information as we receive it.

FIRE SAFETY

Q: Does this mean there is something wrong with Nobel House that means there is a greater risk of a fire that means it isn’t safe?

A: While we await the findings of the EWS Surveyor we have been supporting Y&Y to understand if any immediate action is required. We asked our fire safety consultant, Derek Andrews of Delco Safety who completed last Fire Risk Assessment for Y&Y, to advise on best practise and how to ensure the safety of all residents.

His response is as follows:

“Initially, having taken into account the reasonable standard of internal compartmentation evident during our last visit, the multiple means of escape provided from the common areas and the fire equipment in place (including smoke ventilation etc), I would not considered it to be necessary to make significant immediate changes whilst awaiting the test results for the external walling materials.  However, it would be advisable that the frequency of routine fire safety inspections at the property are increased whilst awaiting the results (I would suggest a minimum of weekly inspections  - in conjunction with weekly fire alarm testing and smoke vent activation tests would be appropriate).”

Following his advice weekly fire safety inspections will start week commencing 13th October 2020.

The probability of a fire occurring at Nobel House has not increased, and the block has many differences from the construction of Grenfell Tower.  However, the landscape has changed in the aftermath of the disaster and all owners of buildings over 18m high are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of the buildings that they own.

Q: Who is responsible for fire safety at Nobel House?

A: As part of Y&Y Management’s responsibilities for compliance with health and safety they are responsible for fire safety at Nobel House

Q: What fire safety checks are in place?

A: Y&Y Management are required to arrange for a Fire Risk Assessment at Nobel House which is normally completed each year in the Autumn

Q: Is there anything I can do to stay safe in my home?

A: Please visit our website here to view our latest fire safety advice which also includes a link to more fire safety information on London Fire Brigade’s website.