Architects step up to take on the CDM Principal Designer role

Architects stake claim to CDM Principal Designer role copy

The RIBA’s Principal Designer courses give architects the ‘skills, knowledge, experience’ to take on the role for their own projects.

Industry design professionals gathered for a summit meeting on the role of the principal designer in meeting CDM regulations last week hosted by the APS. The debate focused on the knowledge and skills design professionals need to take on the role.

The revamped CDM regulations are now nearly two years old, and the RIBA is clear that the principal designer should be a member of the design team, rather than an external consultant.

As the new CDM regime matures, the HSE says it expects the lead designer to automatically take on principal designer responsibility without additional consultant support by 2020, a target the RIBA is keen to see realised by the membership.

The RIBA has set up a Health and Safety Expert Panel to help members achieve this.

Presenting the experiences of a large practice – Hawkins\Brown – that has been taking CDM in house progressively, RIBA steering group member Nigel Ostime said his practice has now been appointed as Principal Designer on about 35 projects across the residential, commercial and education sectors.

Of these projects, around two thirds currently have a CDM adviser as a sub-consultant, but these will be steadily phased out in line with the HSE’s expectations for 2020.

Ostime has no doubt that the HSE and RIBA ambitions for in-house architects as principal designers are totally aligned. That said, he believes there will still be a role for health and safety consultants in the future, either as advisers to clients or to the Principal Designer on large projects where there is an identified need for specialist support.

‘The principle [at Hawkins\Brown] is that whoever the architect is, that person takes on the Principal Designer role, as long as they have previous experience of managing that scale of project,’ says Ostime.

‘It is a new function so some are naturally concerned they will not have the skills, knowledge and experience, but I reassure them that so long as they have appropriate experience in leading a design team, knowledge of the sector and an understanding of the regulations, they are well-placed to perform the role.

Other than on smaller projects, Hawkins\Brown are yet to gain expertise in interfacing with the principal contractor, and responsibilities with respect to temporary works, as the projects where the architect has been appointed principal designer are only now beginning to go on site.

Last year the RIBA called on all architects with three or more years’ experience post qualification to take on the Principal Designer role on their projects.

Accredited Principal Designer courses created to give architects the ‘skills, knowledge, experience’ to take on the role continue to be available in 2017 as half-day, one-day and two-day courses around the regions.

Around twenty architects at Hawkins\Brown have taken this course to date. Nigel Ostime reports that more team members will be booked in this year following the positive feedback from previous participants.

Courses are designed and led by architect Paul Bussey, author of CDM 2015: A Practical Guide for Architects and Designers, and civil engineer Tony Putsman from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Members can also visit the RIBA’s CDM Knowledge Hub for information, exclusive guidance and free RIBA Online CPD.

Thanks to Nigel Ostime, Project Delivery Director, Hawkins\Brown.

Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA. 

Posted on Wednesday 15th February 2017