When does a Principal Designer need to be appointed? header image

18th April, 2017

When does a Principal Designer need to be appointed?

CDM 2015 came into force over 2 years ago, but we still get many enquiries about the new role this version of the regulations introduced… the Principal Designer. Most questions relate to the appointment, particularly, when does a Principal Designer need to be appointed?

The answer is fairly straightforward, but because it is so different to the appointments needed under the previous 2007 regulations, it often takes a little explaining.

A Principal Designer needs to be appointed on ALL construction projects with more than one contractor.

Ok, you can see we have placed some emphasis on the word ALL.

Previously, duty holder appointments such as the Principal Contractor (and the now removed role of CDM Coordinator) did not need to be made on domestic projects.

Does the new role of Principal Designer need to be appointed on domestic projects? Yes, it does. (And as a side note – so does the Principal Contractor).

Under the old 2007 regulations, these additional appointments did not need to be made on none-notifiable projects (those under 30 days or 500 person days duration).

Does the new role of Principal Designer need to be appointed on none-notifiable projects? Yes, it does.

As you can see, the appointment of a Principal Designer is often required, and not just on bigger commercial projects.

The Principal Designer is one of the first appointments that should be made. The Principal Designer has a wide range of duties to discharge before any work begins on site, and is overall responsible for health and safety during the planning stages of the project.

5.-(2) The appointments must be made as soon as is practicable, and, in any event, before the construction phase begins.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

On domestic projects, if the client does not make the appointment in writing, the designer in control of the pre-construction phase of the project is the Principal Designer, and this appointment is automatic.

On commercial projects (construction projects in connection with any business), if the client does not make the appointment, they are automatically the Principal Designer, and responsible for the all the duties and requirements of that role.

So, when does a Principal Designer not need to be appointed?

Well, the role needs to be appointed on ALL construction projects with more than one contractor.

Therefore, if you have only one contractor involved on your project for its duration (and they will not use any subcontractors), you don’t need to appoint a Principal Designer.

You shouldn't wait until you have more than one contractor before appointing the Principal Designer. As discussed earlier, this should be one of the first appointments made. The regulations are quite clear that the appointment should be made "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", so if it is likely you will need more than one contractor on the project, then get your Principal Designer in place.

It is worth noting that even if you have another contractor who is only doing a small amount of work, who is not on site every day, that is still more than one contractor. If your contractor subcontracts part of his work, for example to a plumber or electrician, that is also more than one contractor.

As many projects require expertise from different trades, even small projects will usually need to appoint a Principal Designer.

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