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Ian PattinsonI was delighted to be joined on the podcast by Ian Pattison. This is a slightly unusual interview, as although Ian is a property investor based in Loughborough, he is also a Health & Safety Manager in the construction industry, typically working on large-scale commercial projects.

At the same time, he also has his own investment background in the private residential sector, and the reason this interview is a little different, is that we’re going to focus on the area of CDM, a small part of the grander health & safety area, and discuss how it applies to residential developments.

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What is CDM?

CDM – or Construction Design and Management – regulations have existed in health and safety for twenty years, and were initially introduced by the health and safety executive as a means of managing the design and construction of large-scale building projects. In 2015, however, CDM changed rather significantly for property investors, by introducing a requirement regarding domestic and commercial clients.

In particular, Ian explains, landlords became viewed as commercial clients that have to follow CDM regulations. The change also meant that, instead of only large projects having to follow CDM, now almost all projects have to comply.

What about the notification process?

As part of the regulations, large projects are notifiable, in that clients or contractors may have to notify the HSE that the project exists. This is only the case if it involves a project of over 30 days, and with more than 20 people on site at any one time, or, if there are 500 “person days” involved within the build.

For the property community, this means that if you’re involved in new builds, demolition, refurbs, extensions, conversions, or even just repairs and maintenance to your own portfolio, then CDM will apply to some extent. There are certain duties that need to be followed under the regulations.

The Role of Duty Holders

The idea of CDM is that throughout the design and constructions phase of a project, safety is managed. It introduces a number of duty-holders, and gives these duty-holders certain responsibilities they need to comply with throughout specific project phases.

The most obvious example is that if you’re a property investor, you will probably also be a client – you’ll instigate the project, and say what you want within it, so you automatically have duties, and if you don’t comply with them then you could be liable to prosecution.

There are six duty-holders that apply throughout CDM, and the principle designer and principle contractor are two of the key ones. This means that if you’ve got more than one contractor in the construction phase, which you’re probably going to have on any build, then you’ll probably need to appoint a principle contractor to manage the construction phase of the project. If there’s more than one contractor then there also has to be a principle designer.

These are significant points, Ian says, because if you, as a client, don’t formally appoint a principle designer or contractor in writing, then the duties will automatically revert to you, and you will be liable if anything is amiss.

The Importance of the Principle Contractor

Your principle designer will need to make sure the construction can be built safely, the property can be operated safely, and that it can be maintained safely. As long as you follow this practical approach and consider safety in the construction, maintenance, and operation of the building(s), then it should be a simple consideration.

The principle contractor, however, Ian says carries a lot more risk, for the simple fact that more things can go wrong in the construction phase of a build. For this reason, the principle contractor has a more involved role in the project, as they’re there to co-ordinate the safety considerations for the contractors you’re employing.

This role entails day-by-day requirements to ensure the CDM is complied with, as well as the production of a Construction Phase Plan, which is based on the size, scale, and complexity of the project.

More Information

You can download templates for the Construction Phase Plan online, and bullet-pointed lists from the Construction Industry Training Board. There is also a smartphone App called CDM Wizard, in which you can fill in each section on your phone, and create a plan that you can share with your contractors.

You can also find more information about CDM requirements on the HSE website, or through CONIAC, which is the Construction Industry Advisory Committee that produces very specific guidance for the six duty holders.

You can also contact Ian by email for help on your next project.