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21st February, 2017

CDM 2015 And Residential Projects

Does CDM 2015 apply to residential projects? This is a question we are often asked, and the short answer is - Yes.

If you are a Principal Contractor, Contractor, Designer or Principal Designer, CDM 2015 applies in full to residential projects.

In fact, on most residential projects it will be business as usual for all duty holders. Particularly in the development or refurbishment of houses for sale or rent.

Local authorities, housing associations, charities, landlords and other businesses may own residential properties, but they are not a 'domestic client' for the purposes of CDM 2015.

Who is a domestic client?

A domestic client is usually a person having work carried out on there own home, which is not in connection with any business.

In this case there may be extra duties to carry out on behalf of the Client.


Well, residential clients (where defined as domestic clients under CDM 2015) are not expected to be CDM experts, and therefore are not expected to comply with all the Client duties under CDM 2015.

Under CDM 2015 “domestic client” is defined as a client for whom a project is being carried out which is not in the course or furtherance of a business of that client.

So if the work is carried out on their own home and not in connection with any business, then the client can be classed as a domestic client.

Unless there is a written agreement in place to to transfer the Client duties to the Principal Designer, Client duties for domestic clients are normally transferred to a contractor.

  • If there is only one contractor involved in the project, this contractor will take on the client duties in addition to their own Contractor duties.
  • If there is more than one contractor, the Principal Contractor will take on the client duties in addition to their own Principal Contractor duties.

Since it is the Clients duty to appoint the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor, how does this impact on the appointment of these roles?

In residential projects, if there is no written agreement then any designer in charge of coordinating and managing the project is assumed to be the Principal Designer.

Similarly, any contractor in control of the construction phase is assumed to be the Principal Contractor.

(2) If a domestic client fails to make the appointments required by regulation 5—

(a)the designer in control of the pre-construction phase of the project is the principal designer;

(b)the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project is the principal contractor.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

So it is important to be aware that on residential projects for domestic clients, you can be automatically appointed in the roles of Principal Contractor and Principal Designer, and become responsible for the associated duties.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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