The Construction Design Management 2007 has been updated in 2015, the major change is the removal of the CDM Coordinator and the addition of the Principal Designer Roles and Responsibilities. Instead of comparing the old and the new roles and regulations, we have reduced the boring texts to 5 simple day to day questions ensuring the new regulation is well understood at domestic level.



Who is the Principal Designer?

The fundamental role of Principal Designer (PD) is the person or business that can influence, adjust and change the design eliminating foreseeable risks and putting controls in place to eliminate or reduce them, assuring the project can be delivered, maintaining adequate Health and Safety Standards to everyone directly and indirectly involved. Also the PD must collect relevant information to maintain and update the Health and Safety File, coordinating, cooperating with everyone involved and communicating with the Principal Contractor (PC) of the risks and control measures during construction.


What Domestic Clients must do?

Domestic Clients do not have to appoint a Principal Designer nor a Principal Contractor, also do not become the Principal Designer nor the Principal Contractor. Under the new CDM 2015 regulation, these roles are fulfilled by the contractor if only one or by the principal contractor when there is more than one or by the PD if the Client has appointed one in writing. The Client only has the general duty of care to ensure the PD and PC are Trained and Competent to do the work.


What happens when the Client doesn’t appoint the Principal Designer?

Domestic Clients normally do not appoint a PD, mainly due to the simple fact that they don’t know if they need to appoint one or they think that Contractors naturally become the PD. In cases where the Client doesn’t specifically appoint one, the Principal Designer becomes the person that will have an influence on the pre-construction, in other terms the professional doing the works.


What Traders working for Domestic Clients must do?

When contracted by Domestic Clients and if the Client did not appoint a Principal Designer, the Roles of Principal Contractor are transferred from the Client to the Trader when there is only one or to the Principal Contractor when there is more than 1 Contractor.

The Principal Contractor duties are to:

1.      Manage the Project.

2.      Construct, eliminating and reducing the health and safety risks to anyone for the duration of the works.

3.      Provision of pre-construction information to everyone.

4.      Draw a Construction Phase Plan.

5.      Update and handover the Health and Safety File.

6.      Ensure compliance with roles and duties to regulations.

7.      Notify the Executive when projects last more than 30 working days and more than 20 workers working at any point or exceed 500 person days.


When there is more than 1 contractor what should the Client and Trader do?

The regulation states that when there are more than 1 contractor, a Principal Contractor must be appointed. Under the domestic Client rules, if the Client has not appointed anyone, the PD is the person responsible for the design element (eg Architect) and the PC will be the trader in control of the construction works.


In essence, the PD is the person that can influence the pre-construction stage and the Principal Contractor is the person or business in control of the Construction phase. These roles can be transferred to one person or organisation, under the New Construction Design and Management Regulation 2015, Domestic Clients do not have to appoint the Principal Designer nor the Principal Contractor, the general duties of making sure the Contractor is Trained and Competent remains, along with the provision of Health and Safety File information for the works to be carried out risk free. It is also clear, that the New CDM 2015 is taking away all the fundamental responsibilities as the commercial Client. On projects where the Client appoints all the contractors (eg local scaffoldlocal plastererplumberlocal rooferlocal decoratorlocal block paverLocal Electrician…) It would also be safe to suggest that the Principal Contractor is the organization that would have the major part of the works at that point in time so there could be projects where several contractors would have acted as a Principal Contractor  


19 March 2016

Pascal Baptista