Domestic Clients and the Transfer of CDM Duties to the Principal Contractor

Domestic Clients and the Transfer of CDM Duties to the Principal Contractor

10th June 2019

Last week we took a look at the way in which the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) regulations now affect even small domestic projects, explaining that domestic projects are now treated the same as other construction projects.  Small to medium construction company owners now have to treat domestic projects the same as any other construction projects as it’s no longer possible to categorise every residential project as domestic.   However, domestic clients are treated differently under CDM, mainly because their duties are transferred to other members of the project team.  As promised, today we are covering this in more detail for our readers so that they are fully informed about all the legal requirements when it comes to small domestic projects being carried out.

To recap the difference between a domestic client and a non-domestic client, a homeowner getting a new bathroom fitted or building an extension as a playroom for the kids is classed as a domestic client.  However, whereas a homeowner having a home office built or an extension as a playroom for childminding purposes means the client would not be classed as domestic.  Likewise, having a home built in which to live means the client would be classed as domestic, whereas having a home built in order to rent it out or sell it on completion means that the client is not classed as domestic.

Domestic clients are not expected to appoint the roles of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor and it’s vital for construction company owners to be aware that they may be appointed    automatically on a domestic project.  On a domestic project, client duties are automatically transferred from the domestic client to:

  • The contractor, on a single contractor project
  • The Principal Contractor, on a project involving more than one contractor
  • Alternatively, the domestic client may choose to have a written agreement with the Principal Designer to carry out the client duties on the project.

A client on a construction project is usually classed as a duty-holder and a domestic client are not expected to know all the details when it comes to CDM.  This is why the duties of a domestic client are usually transferred to the Principal Contractor (or the Principal Designer, if set out in a written agreement).   The Principal Contractor is responsible for overall CDM compliance onsite, covering every issue from inductions, welfare, and producing the construction phase plan, managing work onsite and ensuring that it’s carried out in a safe manner.  When a domestic client’s duties are transferred to the Principal Contractor, they will have the client’s duties to comply with too.

If there is a sole contractor on a domestic project (which is often the case on smaller jobs, especially), then the client’s duties transfer to the sole contractor who will be responsible for managing health and safety onsite.