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As the industry starts to get to grips with the incoming Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA) and the new building safety regime, we are being asked lots of questions about the principal designer role. We have put together this guide on how the principal designer and contractor roles are impacted by the BSA 2022 coming into force.
Yes, confusingly there are now two sets of regulations which are the construction, design, and management regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) and the building safety act 2022 (BSA) which refer to the requirement for a principal designer and contractor to be appointed.
Despite having the same names, they are two very distinctly different roles and have completely separate requirements. The CDM 2015 principal designer and contractor roles cover the management of health and safety during construction and design, as has been in place since 2015. In contrast, the building regulations principal designer and contractor roles under the BSA 2022 is concerned with managing compliance of the design and construction works with the building regulations.
A reminder that the criteria for a building to be an HRB is for it to be at least 18m in height or 7 storeys, containing at least two residential units.
Firstly, CDM 2015 applies to all construction works including domestic projects, so regardless of whether a project is classified as an HRB or not, you need to appoint a CDM principal designer and contractor. Similarly, whilst there is a misconception that the building regulations principal designer and contractor roles required under the BSA 2022 only applies to HRBs, it actually applies to all projects.
Whilst it is required on all projects, the subtle difference is that on projects that are classified as HRBs, there is a requirement to specify a separate building regulations principal designer whereas works to buildings which are not HRBs require the role of principal designer to be identified, but this role may be carried out by the sole contractor, principal contractor, lead designer, or in default the client (except for domestic clients).
It should be noted that if the client fails to appoint a principal designer or contractor, the responsibilities will be retained by the client and will default to them. On an HRB project, this means the client must appoint another competent individual or organisation to carry out the building regulations principal designer role.
The building regulations principal designer and contractor can be the same organisation if they have the competence to deliver both distinct roles. They may also be the same entity who delivers the CDM principal designer and contractor roles, again if they have the correct competencies to do so. Whilst these roles can be carried out by the same entity, they require a completely different set of competencies to deliver them.
The client now has an obligation to make sure that they take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that any entity appointed into duty holder roles such as the principal designer and contractor are competent. Building safety competence means the entity has the necessary building safety skills, knowledge, experience, and behaviours and ethics.
A British standard has been produced to help guide principal designers, contractors, and clients to understand the building safety competencies required to perform the principal designer and contractor roles. PAS 8671:2022 sets out a competency framework for principal designers and PAS 8672:2022 sets out a framework for principal contractors.
What is the difference between the CDM 2015 and BSA or Building Regulations principal designer and contractor roles?
As above, in the most basic terms, the CDM 2015 roles require the management of health and safety during design and construction, whereas under the BSA 2022 the building regulation roles are about managing the compliance of the design and construction works with the building regulations.
The below outlines the role and competency framework for the CDM 2015 and BSA 2022 principal designer and contractor roles in turn.
As defined by the HSE, principal designers under CDM 2015 must:
In contrast under the BSA 2022, the building regulations principal designer must:
For the principal contractor, under CDM 2015, the principal contractor must:
Again, in contrast the under the BSA 2022 the building regulations principal contractor must:
At Building Safety Act Consult, we offer and can deliver the building regulations principal designer service. We have a slightly alternative approach to many in the market and whilst some just see it as an extension of the CDM responsibilities, we believe it is a distinctively and wholly different role which requires a much more collaborative and proactive approach and a different technical skillset backed up with experience delivering a vast range of project types.
As the building regulations principal designer, we take the lead on the design to offer clear and accurate advice to produce a design that is compliant with building regulations for projects, including HRBs.
As a team comprised of building control officers, fire safety experts, health and safety and project leaders with design management experience, we believe that we are well placed to provide a competent building regulations principal designer service on projects.
Our team has a combined total of over 200 years of experience, particularly delivering some of London’s largest HRBs. We follow the competency framework set out in PAS 8671:2022 for principal designers to deliver our services.
Get in touch with us at Building Safety Act Consult for more information about our principal designer services or to receive a proposal.