Last edited 05 Jan 2016

CDM for self-builders and domestic clients

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The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM regulations) are intended to ensure health and safety issues are properly considered during a project’s development so the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures is reduced. They first came into force on 31 March 1995 and created obligations for all construction projects, with specific requirements for notifiable projects and for projects involving more than one contractor:

  • Where a project is notifiable (the construction work is likely to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point, or exceed 500 person days), the client must give notice in writing to the HSE as soon as is practicable before the construction phase begins, or arrange for someone else to do this on their behalf. See Notify HSE for more information.
  • Where there is more than one contractor, a principal contractor and principal designer must be appointed.

The previous, 2007 version of the CDM Regulations exempted domestic clients from most CDM obligations. The 2015 CDM Regulations removed this exemption, but transferred the client’s obligations to the contractor on a single contractor project or to the principal contractor on a project involving more than one contractor. Alternatively, domestic clients can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client’s duties.

If domestic clients on projects involving more than one contractor fail to appoint a principal contractor and principal designer, those duties will fall to the designer and contractor in control of the pre-construction and construction phases.

The 2015 CDM Regulations define domestic clients as, ‘…people who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member that is not done as part of a business, whether for profit or not.’ This definition of domestic clients would normally include self-builders.

Local authorities, housing associations, charities, management companies owned by the residents or homeowners, landlords and other businesses may own domestic property but they are not domestic clients. It is the status of the person procuring the work that determines whether the regulations apply, not the nature of the premises. For example, if construction work is procured by a local authority, then they are not a domestic client, even though the work is being done in domestic premises for the benefit a householder. If the work is in connection with a business attached to domestic premises, such as a shop, the client is not a domestic client.

Part 4 of the Regulations sets out a number of additional requirements for work carried out on a construction site that contractors must comply with. However, a domestic client who controls the way in which any construction work is carried out must also comply with these requirements where they relate to matters within the client’s control. This includes provisions relating to:

Detailed guidance is available from the Health and Safety Executive.

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