CDM and Domestic Projects – What You Need to Know!

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 can be a minefield for the small domestic contractor to interpret correctly. Chris Bowes from Opex Safety Services has broken down the requirements placed on the client and the contractor below. Well worth a read if you aren’t sure, or even if you just want to brush up on your knowledge.

Does CDM apply to small domestic works? Does the domestic client have duties? Are there specific things as a small domestic contractor that I need to do to comply?

Below I’ve tried to give a brief outline of what is required and hopefully explain what your responsibilities are as a domestic contractor when undertaking private works.

If a homeowner is looking to alter or extend their house or associated buildings, thinking of putting up a new one or demolishing an existing one, then the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM2015) place a number of specific duties on them as a domestic construction client. A domestic client is someone who has construction work done on their own home, or the home of a family member which is not connected to a business. Domestic clients have duties under CDM2015 however they do not need to fulfil and the responsibility passes to the contractor by default.

The definition of construction is also a coverall. Under CDM 2015 the definition of construction is:

(a) the construction, alteration, conversion, fitting out, commissioning, renovation, repair, upkeep, redecoration or other maintenance (including cleaning which involves the use of water or an abrasive at high pressure, or the use of corrosive or toxic substances), de-commissioning, demolition or dismantling of a structure; 

(b) the preparation for an intended structure, including site clearance, exploration, investigation (but not site survey) and excavation (but not pre-construction archaeological investigations), and the clearance or preparation of the site or structure for use or occupation at its conclusion; 

(c) the assembly on site of prefabricated elements to form a structure or the disassembly on site of the prefabricated elements which, immediately before such disassembly, formed a structure; 

 (d) the removal of a structure, or of any product or waste resulting from demolition or dismantling of a structure, or from disassembly of prefabricated elements which immediately before such disassembly formed such a structure; 

(e) the installation, commissioning, maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services which are normally fixed within or to a structure,

As you can see from that definition, it pretty much covers every bit of construction work you could possibly undertake. 

Irrespective of size or duration, the CDM2015 regulations separate construction projects into two types – dependent on how many contractors will be involved in the project.

The two types are:

• Projects with only one contractor – where the project will only require one contractor working on the site. An example of this might be an electrician rewiring the house or a plumber installing a replacement boiler, with no other trades required to do any work. 

 Projects that are likely to involve more than one contractor – this will be the majority of projects. If the work will require a bricklayer, electrician, plumber, roofer and plasterer, that is five contractors already.

Both these types of project are discussed in further detail;


1. Projects where there is only 1 contractor: Where the project only involves one contractor, the client duties specified in CDM2015 Regulation 4(1) to (7) and Regulation 6, must be carried out by the contractor

These regulations are:

  • Construction work can be carried out without risk to the H&S of any persons affected by the project and maintained throughout the project
  • Welfare facilities are provided by the contractor and maintained throughout the project
  • Pre-construction is made available as soon as is practicable to every designer and contractor appointed
  • A construction phase plan is drawn up (a free download is available on the BTG website – the link is below)
  • A H&S file is produced for the project at completion
  • The principal designer and contractor/principal contractor comply with their duties under CDM
  • An F10 is submitted to the HSE for projects lasting longer than 30 days with 20 people working on it simultaneously at any one time or exceeding 500 person days

The contractor needs to undertake these duties in addition to their own duties as a contractor. As a contractor you should be aware of your duties under CDM2015, including the client duties that you are responsible for undertaking. 

2. Projects where there is more than 1 contractor: If it is likely that the project will require more than one contractor, then the client, must appoint a designer with control over the pre-construction phase as Principal Designer and a contractor with control over the construction phase as Principal Contractor.

These appointments must be made as soon as practicable and before the construction phase begins. If the domestic client doesn’t make these appointments, which in 99% of cases they won’t, then the designer in control of the pre-construction phase is deemed to be the Principal Designer and the contractor in control of the construction phase is deemed to be the Principal Contractor.

CDM2015 understands that most domestic clients will not be familiar with design or construction projects or associated legislation. In many cases a client wishing to alter or extend their property will initially speak to a designer about their proposals, and develop the project design in detail before considering appointing a contractor. 

If the domestic client does not decide to have a written agreement with the Principal Designer that they undertake these client duties on their behalf, the Principal Contractor is automatically responsible for carrying out these client duties under CDM2015. 

The domestic client duties passed to the Principal Contractor or Principal Designer are:

• Make suitable arrangements to manage project H&S including allocating sufficient time and ensuring that there are sufficient resources to carry out the work safely; 

• Make sure that construction work can be carried out safely; 

• Make sure that there are suitable welfare facilities – toilets, washing facilities and so on – for the construction workers. 

• Provide information in your possession about the project (existing drawings, structural reports etc.) to all designers and contractors being appointed. 

• Make sure that the contractor or principal contractor prepares a construction phase health and safety plan (a free download is available on the BTG website – see link below)

• Make sure that the Principal Designer prepares a H&S file to give to you at the end of the project. This applies only where there is more than one contractor.

On all contracts the contractor (when only one contractor) or the Principal Contractor (or if nominated the Principal Designer) will need to: 

• Make suitable arrangements for managing the project and make sure they remain in place and are reviewed throughout the project, so that construction works can be carried out safely and without risk to health; 

• Make sure sufficient time and resources are allocated for each stage of the project, including design, preparation for starting on site and the construction work itself; 

• Be satisfied that suitable welfare facilities are provided by contractors from the start and throughout the construction phase.

• Provide pre-construction information as soon as practicable to every designer and contractor appointed, so that they can comply with their duties; 

• Ensure that, before the construction phase commences, a suitable Construction Phase Plan is drawn up by the contractor; 

• Notify the Health and Safety Executive of the project if the construction phase is likely to last longer than 500 person days or last longer than 30 days with 20 or more people on site. The Regulations mostly require you to ensure that a number of things are done rather than actually do them yourself.

On Projects where it is likely that there will be more than one contractor working, the Principal Contractor or nominated Principal Designer MUST, in addition to those duties above, make sure that they: 

• Ensure that the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor comply with their duties; The Principal Designer must:

 • plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase and coordinate health and safety matters to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the project is carried out without risks to health or safety; 

• liaise with the Principal Contractor for the duration of the Principal Designer’s appointment and share relevant health and safety information;

 • assist you in the provision of pre-construction information; – coordinate arrangements for Health & Safety during the design and planning (pre-construction) phase.

 The Principal Contractor must:

 • plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and coordinate health and safety matters to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the construction work is carried out without risks to health or safety;

 • liaise with the Principal Designer for the duration of the Principal Designer’s appointment and share relevant health and safety information; 

• make and maintain arrangements for effective cooperation of matters relating to health, safety and welfare of workers; 

• consult with workers on matters that may affect their health, safety and welfare;

• ensure that where there is more than one contractor the Principal Designer prepares a Health & Safety File for the project. Agree the contents and format of the Health & Safety File with you and ensure that you provide the Principal Designer with relevant information that you already have for the File. 

The Principal Designer will ensure the Health & Safety File is prepared, reviewed or updated (as appropriate) ready for handing over to you on completion of the work. This is an important legal document.

When the project is completed the client will need to: 

Keep the resultant Health & Safety File safe and make it available to anyone who may need it in the future and explain its purpose to them. It is their responsibility to update it whenever necessary. When they dispose of their interest in the structure (i.e. sell the house) they must also pass on the File to those acquiring it. 

In summary if you are doing domestic works you will be picking up contractor duties, maybe principal contractor duties and possibly client duties and in some cases if you design the works also principal designer duties. 

This is also in addition to other H&S legislation and method statements and Risk assessments etc.

If you require any assistance please contact me on 07745315197, at [email protected]or

We are a H&S/CDM consultancy offering retained services, H&S assistance, documentation, assistance with CHAS assessments etc nationwide and can assist companies of any size.

Find out more about Chris and his services here!

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