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1st May, 2015

How to appoint a principal designer under CDM 2015

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) introduced a new role of principal designer, as an important duty holder that must be appointed on all projects with more than one contractor.

It is the clients duty to make this appointment, but how do you appoint a principal designer and comply with CDM 2015?

Identifying the correct person to carry out this role is key to complying with the new regulations.

Rather than a straight swap for the former role of CDM coordinator, the principal designer should be a designer in control of the pre-construction phase of the project.

Whereas before (under CDM 2007), additional duty holders were only required on notifiable projects, under the new regulations, notification is not the trigger for additional appointments.

All key appointments must be made on any project with more than one contractor.

Even a small none-notifiable refurbishment project with a plumber and a decorator should, therefore, have a principal designer appointed under the new regulations.

5. Appointment of the principal designer and the principal contractor

(1) Where there is more than one contractor, or if it is reasonably foreseeable that more than one contractor will be working on a project at any time, the client must appoint in writing—

(a) a designer with control over the pre-construction phase as principal designer; and

(b) a contractor as principal contractor.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

The CDM 2015 regulations specify that the appointment of both the principal contractor and principal designer must be made in writing.

This is especially important if you have more that one designer working on your project, as this written appointment gives a clear instruction on who is taking on the additional requirements of the principal designer role.

Of course, all designers will have duties under CDM 2015, however, the principal designer has duties in addition to their duties as a Designer, including taking control of health and safety at the pre-construction phase of the project, and assisting the Client with CDM requirements.

When choosing your principal designer, it is important to remember that the principal designer must be a designer on the project and be in a position to have control over
the design and planning stage.

The principal designer must have the right skills and experience to be able to perform the role.

The principal designer will usually be an organisation or, on smaller projects, an individual with:

  • a technical knowledge of the construction industry, relevant to the project
  • an understanding of how health and safety is managed through the design process
  • the skills to be able to oversee health and safety during the pre-construction phase of the project and the ongoing design.

As a client, your duty under CDM regarding the principal designer does not end at appointment. You must also take reasonable steps to ensure the principal designer complies with the principal designer duties.

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