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31st August, 2017

CDM 2015 Working For Domestic Clients

When working for domestic clients it is important to be aware of some special rules under CDM 2015.

Of course, every project is different, but a common scenario is someone building or extending, or having work carried out in their own property.

Under CDM 2007, there were many exemptions from CDM on domestic projects, but CDM 2015 does not share the same allowances.

Yes, on a domestic project, CDM 2015 will apply.

If you are having work done to your own house, not connected with any business, then you are a domestic client, and you are not expected to know the ins and outs of CDM.

However, if you are working for a domestic client, as a contractor or a designer, you are expected to know about, and comply with CDM 2015.


In your role as a contractor, you have CDM duties that you must comply with. In fact, those duties that the client escaped from (as a domestic client) actually transfer over to the contractor most of the time, so you have the client duties to comply with as well!

The regulations state that domestic client duties will automatically pass to the sole contractor or Principal Contractor unless there is a written agreement for the designer to coordinate and manage the project.

If you are appointed as the Principal Contractor, then the client duties transfer to you. The Principal Contractor is responsible for overall CDM compliance on site, everything from inductions, welfare, and producing the construction phase plan, to managing the work on site and ensuring it is carried out safely.

Oh and, on domestic projects, the Principal Contractor does not need to be appointed in writing. If a domestic client fails to make the appointment in writing, then the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project is automatically the Principal Contractor.

If you are the sole contractor, then the client duties transfer to you. You also still have many of the same duties as the Principal Contractor would have, including producing the construction phase plan and managing health and safety o site, but without needing to manage other contractors.

If you are a contractor working under a Principal Contractor, then you just need to comply with the usual CDM contractor duties, and don't need to worry about any extra client duties being transferred to you.


If you have more than one contractor involved in the project (including subcontractors, and contactors that are only involved for a short period of time), then a Principal Designer must also be appointed.

This is the same on all projects. However, on domestic projects, you don’t need to be appointed in writing.

If a domestic client fails to make the appointment in writing, then the designer is control of the pre-construction phase is automatically the Principal Designer.

Domestic clients can all choose to have a written agreement for the Principal Designer to carry out their client duties.

This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and a degree in construction management. She is NEBOSH qualified and a member of IOSH.

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