The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) looked to build on the successes of the previous version by introducing a new Duty Holder called the Principal Designer. This position replaced, albeit not directly, the former role of the CDM Coordinator.

The Principal Designer is appointed by the CDM Client for a project to control and manage the pre-construction or design phase of a construction project. It is one of the five Duty Holder positions identified by the CDM Regulations as required when a project is reasonably foreseen to involve more than one on site contractor.

The pre-construction phase is defined in the CDM Regulations as "any period of time during which design or preparatory work is carried out for a project and may continue during the construction phase".

It is important to note that the appointment of the Principal Designer by the Client must be done in writing and cannot be presumed. If the Client fails to make the appointment, they themselves will be considered Principal Designer for the purposes of the Regulations.

All Designers involved on a project have a duty to ensure the Client is aware of their duties under the Regulations and as such must advise the Client that a Principal Designer needs to be formally appointed.

Principal Designers perform an important role within a construction project team, they are able to influence and control how risks to Health and Safety are managed and monitored during a project. Design decisions made during the early phases of a project can impact on the delivery of a project by ensuring high standards of health, safety and welfare are maintained as well as assisting in reducing delays and lowering overall costs of the project.

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