CDM (GB) Knowledge Base
Under the CDM2015 regulations a domestic client is someone who has construction work done on their own home, or the home of a family member, which is not done in connection with a business. Local authorities, housing associations, charities, landlords and other businesses may own domestic properties, but they are not a domestic client for the purposes of CDM 2015. If the work is in connection with a business attached to domestic premises, such as a shop, the client is not a domestic client.
A domestic client is not required to carry out the duties placed on commercial clients in regulations 4 (client duties for managing projects), 6 (Notification) and 8 (General duties) - see also paragraph 23. Where the project involves:
- only one contractor, the client duties must instead be carried out by the contractor. The contractor must then carry out the client duties as well as the duties they already have as contractor for the project (see paragraphs 147-179). In practice, this should involve doing little more to manage the work to ensure health and safety;
- more than one contractor, the client duties must instead be carried out by the principal contractor as well as the duties they already have as principal contractor (see paragraphs 110-146). If the domestic client has not appointed a principal contractor then the duties of the client will be carried out by the contractor in control of the construction work. In many situations, domestic clients wishing to extend, refurbish or demolish parts of their own property will, in the first instance, engage an architect or other designer to produce possible designs for them. It is also recognised that construction work does not always follow immediately after design work is completed. If they so wish, a domestic client has the flexibility of agreeing (in writing) with their designer that the designer coordinates and manages the project, rather than this role automatically passing to the principal contractor. Where no such agreement is made, then the principal contractor will automatically take over the project management responsibilities (see paragraph 54).
Working for a Domestic Client
The role of designers, principal designers, principal contractors and contractors when working on a project for a domestic client, is normally no different to their role when working for a commercial client. They have the same duties and should carry them out in the same way as they would for a commercial client. However, the effect of regulation 7 is to transfer the client duties to other duty-holders when working for domestic clients.
Guidance for domestic clients in relation to CDM 2015 is set out in paragraphs 53-56 of the CDM2015 regulations. The following paragraphs set out what other duty-holders need to do as a result.
Further guidance for duty-holders that work for domestic clients is detailed in Appendix 5 of the CDM2015 Guidance.
Domestic projects involving only one contractor
On these projects the client's duties are transferred to the contractor and they must carry out the client's duties as well as their own. In practice, this should involve contractors doing no more than they have done in the past to comply with health and safety legislation. Compliance with their own duties as a contractor will be taken as compliance with the relevant client duties, to the extent necessary given the risks involved in the project.
As a result of the contractor taking on the client duties, any designers involved in the project will work to the contractor in their role as the 'client'.
Domestic projects involving more than one contractor
There is a requirement to transfer of the client duties to the principal contractor in these situations.
On these projects, it will normally be the principal contractor who takes on the client duties and they will need to comply with these duties as well as their own. If the domestic client does not appoint a principal contractor, the role of principal contractor falls to the contractor in control of the construction phase of the project.
As a result of a principal contractor taking on the client duties, the principal designer involved in the project will work to the principal contractor in their role as the 'client'. If the domestic client does not appoint a principal designer, the role of the principal designer falls to the designer in control of the preconstruction phase of the project.
Transfer of Client Duties to Principal Designer
Domestic clients can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to transfer the client duties to the principal designer. In this case, the principal designer must fulfil the duties of the client as well as their own and the principal contractor will work to the principal designer as the 'client'. The written agreement needs to be formal, dated and signed by both parties.
- Need building work done?: A short guide for clients on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
This HSE leaflet is aimed at anyone having maintenance, small-scale building work or other work carried out. As a client you have duties under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The Regulations aim to make sure the construction project is safe to build, use and maintain and offers good value. The leaflet explains what clients need to do and points out where you can find out more.