It's simple to build safely

21 October 2016 Paul Newman, Self Build Director
Potton timber frame in construction

Understanding the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations

The Health & Safety Regulations relevant to construction, known as the CDM Regulations, can seem daunting and confusing.

In this article we’ve tried to provide a simple explanation of the requirements to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and successful build.

All Potton customers benefit from a comprehensive support package of information and advice to build upon the information provided here.

Project Notifications and Scope of Regulations

The CDM regulations are intended to ensure health and safety issues are properly considered through the life of a project so the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures is reduced.

They first came into force in March 1995 and the previous, 2007 version of the CDM Regulations exempted domestic clients from most obligations. The 2015 Regulations removed this exemption, but transferred the client’s obligations to the contractor or principal contractor on a project involving more than one contractor. 

Most self build projects will be notifiable as they will last longer than 500 person days. The link here provides a simple online form for notifying the HSE.

The notification for construction work is normally made by the client. The exception to this is where the client is a domestic client.  Here, the responsibility for notification is passed to the contractor (or Principal Contractor).

If there is more than one contractor and you as client do not appoint a Principal Contractor and Principal Designer, those duties fall automatically to the designer and contractor in control of the pre-construction and construction phases.

Where Potton is providing an architectural service we automatically assume the responsibilities of the Principal Designer.

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.’

The CDM regulations do not seek to prevent self builders from managing their own projects, rather, the intention is to ensure that projects proceed in a safe and organised manner.

The support and services Potton provide are intended to ensure that Self Builders can manage their own builds in a safe and effective manner. If the self builder acts as their own project manager, employing individual trades at different times then the HSE expects individual contractors to be able to advise the self builder on any specialist matters within their own work activities.

The expectation on a self builder in this position is on co-ordination rather than direct supervision of contractors on site. The self builder is entitled to expect contractors to plan, manage and monitor their own work.

The Regulations set out a number of requirements for work carried out on a construction site (not all are listed below) that contractors must comply with and includes provisions relating them. Not all of these will be applicable on every self build project and several are very easy to address being part of general good practice.

•    An appropriate level of site welfare
•    Safe places of construction work
•    Good order and site security
•    Stability of structures
•    Demolition or dismantling
•    Excavations
•    Reports of inspections
•    Traffic routes
•    Vehicles
•    Prevention of risk from fire, flooding or asphyxiation
•    Emergency procedures
•    Emergency routes and exits
•    Fire detection and fire-fighting
•    Temperature and weather protection
•    Lighting

CDM Duty Holders

CDM 2015 creates a number of duty holders who must undertake specific actions. The table below sets out the role of duty holders as they relate to self build.

CDM duty holders for self build - who are they? Summary of role / main duties
Domestic Clients
People who have construction work carried out on their own home, or the home of a family member, that is not done in furtherance of a business whether for profit or not. Domestic clients are in scope of CDM 2015, 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 the principal designer to carry out the client duties.
Principal Designers
Designers 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. Plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate 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 duty holders. Liaise with the principal contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring and co-ordination of the construction phase.
Those who, as part of a business, prepare or modify designs for a building, product or prepare or modify designs to system relating to construction work. When preparing or modifying designs, eliminate, reduce or control foreseeable risks that may arise during:
  • construction
  • 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.
Principal Contractors
Contractors appointed by the client to co-ordinate the construction phase of a project where it involves more than one contractor. Plan, manage, monitor and co-ordinate the construction phase of a project.  This includes:
  • liaising with the client and principal designer
  • preparing the construction phase plan
  • organising co-operation between contractors and co-ordinating their work
Ensure that:
  • suitable site inductions are provided
  • reasonable steps are taken to prevent unauthorised access
  • workers are consulted and engaged in securing their health and safety
  • welfare facilities are provided.


cdm wizard app
The Construction Industry Training Board has produced an easy to use free app that can be used to create Construction Phase Plans in a manner of minutes. Just search ‘CPM Wizard app’ or visit


Construction Phase Plan

The regulations require that on every project, before the construction phase begins the client ensures that a construction phase plan is drawn up by the contractor or principal contractor. If you are the Project Manager then you will need to produce the Construction Phase Plan.

The construction phase plan records arrangements for managing significant health and safety risks associated with the construction of the project and is the basis for communicating those arrangements to those involved in the construction phase.
Pre-construction information provided by the client forms the basis of the construction phase plan. The plan must also take into account information the principal designer holds and any information obtained from designers.

During the course of the project, the principal contractor (or contractor) must ensure that the construction phase plan is reviewed, updated and revised. The plan should be easy to understand and be as simple as possible. Everyone on site, including visitors must comply with the plan. The following topics should be considered when drawing up the plan:

•    A description of the project such as key dates and details of key members of the project team.
•    The management of the work including:
  1. The health and safety aims for the project.
  2. The site rules.
  3. Arrangements to ensure cooperation between project team members and coordination of their work, e.g. regular site meetings.
  4. Arrangements for involving workers.
  5. Site induction.
  6. Welfare facilities.
  7. Fire and emergency procedures.
•    The control of any of the specific site risks listed in Schedule 3 where they are relevant to the work involved

Potton provides a template to all customers managing their own builds to help them produce a simple and effective Construction Phase Plan should they wish not to use the CITB App.
two men looking at a Potton timber frame home

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