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Extending your loft? The CDM now applies

The CDM now applies to all projects – large or small, commercial or private. We look at what members of the industry need to know to make sure all the projects they work on are safe for their workers

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) came into force on 6 April and have implications for anyone organising work on their home.

Previously, the majority of CDM only applied in the commercial sector. But statistics tell us it is the smaller jobs where most people are being harmed, not larger construction projects where there are more resources and greater supervision of workers. The construction industry has the largest number of occupational cancer cases, with 3,500 deaths and 5,500 new cancer registrations each year.

CDM covers construction, alteration, renovation and maintenance – this now includes work by contractors in domestic homes for the first time. It sets legal standards for site safety arrangements, including the provision of adequate welfare facilities. Duty holders must be identified as follows:

  • the client;
  • contractors;
  • the principal contractor (PC), where there is more than one;
  • designers; and
  • the principal designer (PD), where there is more than one.

A Construction Phase Plan (CPP) must be completed before work starts for every project. The regulations specify standards of how the contractor or PC must manage site safety to protect not only those working there, but anyone else who could be affected. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has created a CPP app that can be used to create a plan with minimal fuss. Both the CITB and the Health and Safety Executive have templates on their websites, too.

If a PD has been appointed, a health and safety file must be collated by them during the project and presented at the end. It is likely these files will be requested by solicitors when property is bought and sold in the future. This “handover pack” includes information on exactly what has been built, the sequence of build and the materials or components used and how they were installed.

The regulations recognise that members of the public commissioning work on their own homes cannot be held accountable in the same manner as commercial clients. Duties are still there, but usually transferred to the PC.

In most cases, all domestic clients should be concerned with is appointing the PC and PD in writing, and ensuring the health and safety file is provided at the end of the project.

At the end of 2014, the HSE commissioned research that asked homeowners how they choose their contractors. Very few mentioned safety. This may have to change in the future if, having completed a new bathroom, conservatory or extension, a purchaser requests a health and safety file that has never been created, which results in delays with a sale.

The aim of the new legislation is to make everyone think before a spade is put into the ground, a wall is brought down, a new basement propped or a surface of unknown construction drilled. If followed, there should be fewer surprises along the way.

Louise Hosking is the director at Hosking Associates

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