The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations place specific duties on the approach to health and safety. These regulations were updated in 2015 and now apply to domestic building projects.

Self and custom builders are legally responsible for their own safety when working on their own projects. Depending on how much of the project work you take on yourself, you could fall into one, or more, of the following categories, called ‘dutyholders’:

A ‘client’ is an individual or organisation for whom a construction project is carried out.

Clients must:

  • Make suitable arrangements for managing a project. This includes making sure:
    • other dutyholders are appointed;
    • sufficient time and resources are allocated.
  • Make sure:
    • relevant information is prepared and provided to other dutyholders;
    • the principal designer and principal contractor carry out their duties;
    • welfare facilities are provided.

A ‘domestic client’ is a person who is having 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.

Domestic clients are now in scope of the CDM Regulations, but their duties as a client are normally transferred to:

  • the contractor, on a single contractor project; or,
  • the principal contractor, on a project involving more than one contractor.

However, the domestic client can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry out the client duties.

A ‘designer’ is the person who, who as part of a business, prepares or modifies designs for a building, product or system relating to construction work.

Designers must:

  • When preparing or modifying designs, eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during:
    • construction; and
    • the maintenance and use of a building once it is built.
  • Provide information to other members of the project team to help them fulfil their duties.

A ‘principal designer’ is the designer appointed by the client in projects involving more than one contractor. They can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role.

Principal Designers must: 

  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the pre-construction phase of a project. This includes:
    • identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks;
    • ensuring designers carry out their duties.
  • Prepare and provide relevant information to other dutyholders.
  • Provide relevant information to the principal contractor to help them plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase.

A ‘principal contractor’ is a contractors appointed by the client to coordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor.

Principal Contractors must:

  • Plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety in the construction phase of a project. This includes:
    • liaising with the client and principal designer;
    • preparing the construction phase plan;
    • organising cooperation between contractors and coordinating their work.
  • Ensure:
    • suitable site inductions are provided;
    • reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access;
    • workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety; and,
    • welfare facilities are provided.

A ‘contractor’ is the person or company that does the actual construction work.

Contractors must:

  • Plan, manage and monitor construction work under their control so that it is carried out without risks to health and safety.
  • For projects involving more than one contractor, coordinate their activities with others in the project team – in particular, comply with directions given to them by the principal designer or principal contractor.
  • For single-contractor projects, prepare a construction phase plan.

A ‘worker’ is defined as a person who works for or under the control of contractors on a construction site.

Workers must:

  • Be consulted about matters which affect their health, safety and welfare;
  • Take care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected by their actions;
  • Report anything they see which is likely to endanger either their own or others’ health and safety;
  • Cooperate with their employer, fellow workers, contractors and other dutyholders

Coming soon.

What happens if I don’t comply?

Building your own home can be risky. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), around a third of all workplace fatalities occur in construction and many thousands are injured each year.

Not following the CDM Regulations could result in a dangerous, or even fatal, accident during the completion of your self build or custom build project. Furthermore, your finished home may not be safe to live in.

Breaching health and safety legislation when building your own home could mean that construction work might need to be stopped by the HSE or your local authority. Further work to the project might be needed to fix any problems.

Most importantly, you may be liable for prosecution in some serious cases.