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New CDM regulations mean clients have more responsibilities

The new Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations came into effect in April 2015 and will fully replace the 2007 Regulations by October 2015. There are some important new roles and legal requirements for all construction based projects, so what does this mean in plain English?

Basically, anyone who is having work done, whether on a commercial or domestic project, must be aware of and comply with these new duties. This could include, for example, an extension to your house or even a kitchen being fitted which has not necessarily been strictly policed or regulated as much as it will be from now on.

Consider any work you have had done at home: did you check the credentials of the chosen builder and designer? Did you ask for references, check his trade qualifications and Health and Safety accreditation? Were you aware of the skills and competencies of the labour he used? Were suitable welfare arrangements put in place? Most of us would probably answer ‘NO’ to most of these! But then customers can’t be expected to be experts can they?

Well, from now on the onus is on the client to appoint the necessary management for the contract of works so that these things will be covered and that the work will be carried out to a safe and correct standard for all involved. New CDM regs mean YOU, the client, must appoint a competent team to design and manage your project. In some circumstances you might be further required to do so in writing when instructing those responsible to be, for example, the Principal Designer or the Principal Contractor.

The wording alone is potentially slightly misleading, as the Principal Designer is not necessarily going to be an architect/designer but should be more considered as the overall Project Co-Ordinator. The PD has a key pro-active role and is responsible for checking the collaboration of all those involved in the project. This will be to ensure all parties are taking responsibility for their works including the design team and architect; the collation of all project information including pre-construction information; guiding the development of the Construction Phase Health; and Safety Plan and ensuring the duties defined within the CDM Regulations are managed throughout all phases of the project.

Another change introduced is that any works, whether domestic or commercial, exceeding 30 days or 20 trades simultaneously or 500 man-days requires the client (helped by the PD) to notify the Health and Safety executive. This ensures they are aware of the project happening and might be worthy of them visiting to check the regulations are being complied with.

The new CDM regs have not been brought in to make life worse for clients but to ensure anyone carrying out works are legally compliant and work safely. They hopefully will protect clients from cowboy builders and those working on sites (domestic or commercial projects) who are at risk. This risk if ignored could result in hefty fines, projects being closed down, exaggerated costs when someone else has to pick up the project and moreover delays to your own project.

Ignore the rules at your own peril but the easiest way to avoid all this hassle is to appoint the right people in the first instance. If it looks cheap it’s probably because CDM regulations are being ignored or ‘watered down’. Your project and the operatives working on it are potentially at risk and the outcome could be HSE intervention and possible prosecution. If you choose not to appoint a Principal Designer or Principal Contractor, you (the client) will be responsible for the things THEY should have done.

Office moves and refurbishment projects will of course need to continue to comply under the new regs. As an employer and the client you need to know your employees are safe and protected from any risks of construction works as well as the contractors carrying out the work.

Ask your chosen Designer and Contractor how the work could affect your business operation. Unless you are also experts in managing risks on your project you must ensure the contractor has checked the Risk and Method statements (RAMS) for every trade working under that contractor, checked Asbestos registers, understood working project programmes, completed the Construction Phase Plans, assessed the skills competencies and qualifications of those working on the project.

This as well as managing your own business while embarking on an office fit out? Sound like hard work? For most clients this is going to be impossible to manage and therefore contractors with enviable reputations of delivering projects in office fit out should only be appointed.

A professional office contractor will understand how to execute the CDM regulations correctly and will display a fee for executing these duties. Whilst there aren’t any set guidelines for what should be charged, think of it as an overall consultancy fee for checking documents and checks on those operating on your project.

To have the reassurance and peace of mind knowing you have a project that will be delivered on time, safely and compliant should be the key objectives for any client requiring such works.

Rap Interiors are proud to have our own in house Design Team, Projects Delivery team, and in-house experienced Health and Safety Manager. All our staff have the necessary qualifications, skills and experience and are receive continual training as part of the Rap staff development programme.

Rap are proud to retain accreditations to operate as Principle Designer and Principal Contractor. Having all this in house means any project changes are dealt with fast, communication is good and clear and overseen by our own H & S Manager and is cost effective for the clients. We reduce the need for unecessary external consultants and can therefore control the fees levied onto the client/project.

Information is correlated easily with regular site visits to ensure work is being executed safely and the quality standards are maintained. For example, a recent project in value £100,000.00 over 28 working days , involving 6 trade teams (not notifiable by F10) working on a project, designed by Rap, compliant to new CDM regs with 4 x H&S site visits from in house Manager resulted in a fee included in our quote to the client of £2000.00

If we can help with your refurbishment and design projects, we would love to hear from you. Please call 0333 600 1234 or email for more information.